Revisiting the Steam Prologue as a ‘discovery beat’

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[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert & GameDiscoverCo founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]Those that have been subscribed to this article for some time could recall our January piece on Steam Prologues – these ‘separate Steam apps which showcase a standalone early demo of your recreation.’ In it, we checked out information to attempt to work out in the event that they have been efficient.
To some extent, we concluded there was a correlation/causation situation at play. In different phrases, fashionable Prologues usually come from video games that have been more likely to be fashionable anyhow. However you are taking further publicity the place you will get it. And within the wake of Ship Graveyard Simulator’s Prologue (above) racking up 100,000 gamers in lower than every week, we thought it will be good to revisit the entire topic.
It’s clear that Steam as a platform is a bit of puzzled by the Prologue development – although they don’t forbid it so long as you don’t invoice Prologues as ‘demos’. However in latest months, devs have moved extra strongly in direction of the ‘demo in your common retailer web page’ route. That is extra enthusiastically endorsed by Steam – notably by way of Subsequent Fests, which Valve has launched concrete and constructive information for.A constructive Prologue instance: Epiphany Metropolis
Nevertheless, there are nonetheless nice examples of Prologues boosting visibility for video games, and GameDiscoverCo subscriber David Elliot handed alongside the Reddit publish he did concerning the Epiphany Metropolis Prologue his crew just lately launched.
Epiphany Metropolis is “a artistic puzzle recreation the place you utilize magical image frames to govern the world”, and he notes as an introduction that the sport is “a brief puzzle-adventure recreation with cutesy graphics (not pixel artwork), so it isn’t a recreation that sometimes does effectively on Steam. Our natural day by day wishlist fee confirms this, as we common solely 1-3 wishlist additions per day.”
And you may see the results of the Prologue launch on the principle recreation’s wishlists above – a fairly good one. He explains: “The principle recreation gained 866 wishlists over 1 month (this does account for deletions) and our e-newsletter gained 179 subscribers. This was incredible, and by far the very best a part of the Prologue’s launch. Our wishlist fee stayed a lot larger than regular (10-30 wishlist additions) for not less than 30 days after.”
David additionally shared the Steam visitors over time on the Prologue, because it has its on Steam web page, and it’s fairly cheap, espetcially from the Discovery Queue. (The Prologue itself has 69 Very Constructive critiques.)
Additionally, with these Prologues and demos, you wish to regulate how many individuals truly performed the sport. For instance, David notes: “10,302 individuals added the sport to their Library, however only one,455 individuals truly began up the sport.”A holistic view of Prologue releases?
If we step again, I assumed a greater method to view a Prologue launch is as a ‘Story Beat’ – a significant announcement on the highway to releasing your recreation. The above graphic is shorthand that GameDiscoverCo typically makes use of in shows, as a manner to consider the way you break by way of the mass of video games.
It’s pretty self-explanatory: we predict your recreation’s ‘hook’ is essential. However we additionally worth ‘Story Beats’ – the 4 or 5 main bulletins you make all through the 12-18 months earlier than you launch a recreation, in addition to ‘Nurturing’ your participant base by way of Discord and neighborhood, and getting your ‘Launch Sizzle’ on level with streamer outreach & extra.
And in case you take a look at what Epiphany Metropolis did in publicizing their Prologue launch, it has all of the hallmarks of a significant announcement ‘Story Beat’. For instance, they did a profitable Imgur publish, posted on Reddit and Twitter, and even acquired featured by a YouTube channel, Finest Indie Video games, all timed across the launch of the Prologue. So.. further advertising for discovery!
Due to this fact, perhaps it’s greatest to take a look at it like this. Yyou solely have a restricted quantity of instances you can also make a significant splash. To your recreation, maybe your ‘Story Beats’ could possibly be:Announcement with gameplay trailer (all video games, please do that?)Open Beta or Prologue (tho perhaps this isn’t an both/or?)Subsequent Fest look (don’t see why you wouldn’t?)Launch date announcement (these could be highly effective – see Let’s Construct A Zoo simply now!)Recreation is out now! (everybody has considered one of these!)
At this level, the dialogue turns into rather less binary. It’s not ‘Prologues are nice – sure/no?’, it’s extra ‘you’ve got a restricted quantity of instances to get everybody’s consideration with larger bulletins – weigh up the pluses and minuses of Prologues being one.’ Which is a special lens on the issue.
And this particular query was addressed by Epiphany Metropolis in a reply to a remark which was mainly ‘why not simply launch this as a demo?’ The dev’s viewpoint: “Professional: Your recreation will get further visibility from Steam algorithm while you launch a recreation (not quite a bit tho); Individuals can go away critiques; A free recreation may be simpler to seek for than a demo. Con: You would possibly confuse visitors between the Prologue and the principle recreation; If critiques are dangerous individuals may be much less more likely to play the complete recreation?” In order you may see – it’s complicated.
[We’re GameDiscoverCo, a new agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? We run the newsletter you’re reading, and provide consulting services for publishers, funds, and other smart game industry folks.]