Some time ago I shared my thoughts about what modern games’ shop should look like on Steam forums. I think that it’s really important to repeat my thoughts here, so Epic Games as new direct Steam competitor would never repeat Valve mistakes. Please, read carefully and share your thoughts. It would be really interesting to see what Epic Games think about this, especially since they are planning to open the shop for all devs later.
Below is my post from Steam forums:
Current situation with small indie games on Steam is clearly counter productive for both Steam and developers. Steam doesn’t earn money on unknown games hidden somewere in the middle of nowhere of Steam servers. Developers of such games see no chances of being noticed and leave without any real revenue. I’m not quite sure what’s the point in all of this. Who exactly benefits in this situation? I think no one, even gamers, because most of them just don’t know of such games existance on Steam, no matter how good or bad they are.
Now I think I know how this can be fixed. The thought came to me while I compared two different social networks - Reddit and Twitter. At first I saw no point in using Reddit as I never got nice results with my posts, while tags on Twitter helped to attract some attention with 5-20 likes and reposts. When I decided to learn more about both social networks, I was really surprised.
Twitter with its tags and mentions is more designed for screaming into the void in hope that someone will notice you. This network consists of millions of separate accounts with no clear ways to connect each other. Tags and mentions aren’t helping, because each of them is overloaded with content without any means to sort it out to find some particular things. And so, people keep screaming into the void, while some few luckies get some public attention.
Reddit, that was a total mystery to me at first, works in completely different way. Once I understood its specifics, I managed to create several posts with thousands of likes and lots of positive comments. My personal record was post with 13.6k likes and 345 comments. How did this happen? Simply - Reddit works as an ecosystem of thematically specialized and very engaged communities. If you know what kind of content a community likes and make corresponding post, the effect will be incredible. Each large Reddit community is hunger for new posts - thousands of eyes waiting for more on their favorite topic constantly, and respond very fast.
Currently, Steam works more like Twitter. Countless user-generated communities and curators won’t help, as they work like tags, chaotically overloaded with content without constant public attention.
So, how Reddit example can help Steam? What defines “thematically specialized and very engaged community” if we are talking about games? Genre does, and its correct usage is the key. I think that Steam needs built-in (not user generated) genre-related communities where both developers and gamers can create posts in Reddit style. For example, some people like Cyberpunk genre. They join one centralized Cyberpunk community on Steam and constantly watching for new posts, which can be about old or new games, or about the genre itself in general. This is perfect platform for devs and gamers to meet each other through the engaging, and not less importantly, centralized discussion.
I have a question to Valve. Do you really need all those countless unknown titles that earn nothing but dust on your servers, or the time has finally come to actually earn some money on them? Observe Reddit example, and make every game in your store count. You probably cannot imagine what kind of revenue are you willingly ignore right now, especially when large developers are starting to ignore Steam platform.