tinyBuild has managed to build up a strong player interest in its upcoming games on Steam. Here is how the publisher has generated over 3 million wishlists across its portfolio since the beginning of 2024.

How tinyBuild games generated over 3 million wishlists in 2024 so far

Alex Nichiporchik, co-founder and CEO of tinyBuild, shared the results in a blog post. The company currently has six titles in the top 200 most wishlisted upcoming games on Steam:

  • Kingmakers — #25
  • Streets of Rogue 2 — #70
  • Level Zero: Extraction — #71
  • Duckside — #130
  • Sand — #114
  • Ferocious — #157

It is unclear how many wishlists each title has. But, according to Nichiporchik, May 2024 was the best month in tinyBuild’s history in terms of game traction. The company’s portfolio reached over 1 million wishlists during this period, bringing this year’s total to 3+ million.

The key to success was playtests and demos. Nichiporchik even called the Steam Playtest feature “the single most powerful tool to get early hype for your game, and to actually get people to play.” So what was tinyBuild’s strategy?

But first, here’s a difference between the purpose of wishlists, followers, and playtests, as explained by Nichiporchik: “A Wishlist is a long-term thing, and players will get a notification once the game is out. A Follow means they will get a notification on your announcements. A Playtest means they’ll actually get a pop-up when launching Steam once the floodgates are open. All 3 are important, and we found that getting critical mass into Playtests works like a charm — especially for multiplayer games.”

  • With Kingmakers, the publisher opened up playtest sign-ups after the announcement, kept the test closed to the mass audience for a few weeks, and “opened up the floodgates” after building up critical mass.
  • With Duckside, tinyBuild decided to reveal the real game as an April Fool’s joke, with over 70k signing up for the upcoming playtest. This allowed the company to test the servers (spoiler: they burned) and collect initial feedback.
  • Level Zero: Extraction is a different case, as tinyBuild re-announced the game after deciding on a new concept with developer DogHowl Games. Almost 100k players signed up for the playtest, allowing the team to identify the main issues and see the audience’s reaction to this “Alien Isolation meets Tarkov” formula.
  • With Drill Core, tinyBuild launched a public playtest alongside the game’s announcement, “resulting in very significant time spent and engagement.”
  • The company also promoted its upcoming portfolio during its annual publisher sale on Steam, showcasing trailers, revealing the gameplay for Sand, and highlighting pages for unreleased titles.

So the plan was to announce several games in the first half of the year and prepare strong demos for Steam Next Fest through collecting feedback during playtests. Another important thing was making decisions based on hard data: acknowledging if something goes wrong and fixing issues along the way (e.g. imrpoving server stability in Duckside or adding guns to Level Zero: Extraction at the request of players).

“Too many developers just launch their demos into the festival and hope for the best. It doesn’t work that way,” Nichiporchik said, adding that a campaign like this “takes a lot of planning.”

This is in line with tinyBuild’s strategy to start making 1,000-hour games without AAA budgets. The company shifted to this approach after reporting an operating loss of $63.8 million for 2023, deciding that it needs successful live service titles in its portfolio that could engage and retain players over the long term.

tinyBuild doesn’t have infinite budgets and lacks teams that can produce content nonstop, so Nichiporchik wants to focus on titles with “emergent gameplay based on the interaction systems instead of content.”

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