Valve employees broke down how Steam’s algorithm really works and what developers should do to potentially increase their sales and visibility of their games. The company also provided insights on the possibility of adding new services and features to the platform.

Valve did a Q&A session about Steam last week, and the whole conversation was transcribed by Paradox portfolio manager Juney Dijkstra (it’s available here). You can also read a detailed breakdown on How to Market a Game website.

Key insights

  • The earlier you make a Steam page the more people will buy your game. So there is a direct correlation between how long the page has been live before the release and how high potential sales will be above the median.
  • Tags, playtime, and friend recommendations are three main things that influence Steam’s algorithm. Using the right tags and analyzing what games your potential fans play is crucial in delivering your title to the right audience.
  • The visibility of your game after early access depends on how much content you give people before releasing the full version. It means that if players don’t see enough new features and changes after EA, they probably won’t be that much interested in playing the full game.
  • Valve employees also admitted that they’ve been thinking about adding their own subscription service. But as for now, the company doesn’t consider it to be a good feature for the platform, its users, and developers.
  • Achievements, cloud saves, and trading cards are features that people expect the most. Besides that, people also want to have the opportunity to remap controller buttons.
  • Valve doesn’t mind if developers add an email form into their games, so users can get newsletters or any other updates and information regularly.
  • A/B testing won’t come to Steam anytime soon. However, Valve reads all the requests developers suggest through Steamworks. So if there is a feature that a lot of developers need, maybe, the company will find time to develop and implement it.

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