After the recent LGTB sale on Steam, I started checking my games’ stats more closely, trying to understand how their algorithm works. Of course nobody except them really knows and mine are just observations and suppositions !
I started looking at my latest RPG, Cursed Lands. It had a good number of impressions (how many people saw the game image in the store) and an average click through (of said image/banner).
This is extremely important because for example as I wrote on twitter, changing the banner image can lead to more clickthrough and ultimately, more visitors to your store page. More visistors means more sales? Not necessarily. For example, below is my other RPG Queen Of Thieves:
It seems that I really nailed it with its banner, since it has the highest clickthrough of all my RPGs! Unfortunately, even if the game came out more than one year before Cursed Lands, my latest RPG crushed its sales after one week. Yes, the first week of sales of Cursed Lands were more than 3 years of Queen Of Thieves… but it’s not really QoT fault, as I said I think if a game like Cursed Lands came out shortly after Loren, it would have had almost the same success.
Also, let’s not forget that QoT has only GxB and GxG romances, while Cursed Lands has a bit for everyone, and a better overall story I think (it’s also much longer though not sure if players consider that before buying).
So I decided to compare with yet another RPG, the first Planet Stronghold. This one came out in 2014, so four years before Cursed Lands:
As expected, this one had a lot of impression but mainly because back then, Steam was a closed platform and getting in was really a great boost of visibility. But has done better than Cursed Lands? Once again, no – Cursed Lands sold almost twice the first Planet Stronghold!
What conclusions can I draw beside the fact that Cursed Lands ruled? Haha jokes apart, while games like that one are the main reasons why I’m still in business today, it also shows that yes, you can improve clickthrough rate with a better banner, you can get more traffic and visitors, but all that matters in the end is how “good” game is.
“What is good?” Baby don’t hurt me, no more – ahem sorry
I know that “good” is hard to define, but basically I would describe it as something like: a game is good if it manages to catch/met the interest of its potential user base, as much as possible.
Then of course depends also how big that user base is – you can make a well received yaoi game (like Heirs & Graces, my game with highest review rating on Steam) but because of the smaller target market it won’t do as well as a game with more diversity of romances.
And that’s why for all future games, with the exception of a few yuri only games (I need to be forgiven from yuri fans for making them wait so much!) will have at least two romance combos (either choosing protagonist gender, or having both male and female romances).
So in summary, the better the game is, the more Steam algorithm will promote it. You can buy ads of course (how many indies can afford that though?) but if your game isn’t good to start with, you’ll be only throwing money away. Thing is, during the launch window, Steam already shows the game to a rather big amount of people. Now, I don’t remember it the exact number but I think it was 1million of impressions (might have changed now though). Considering even a low 1% of CTR, that is still 10000 users to your page, and if your game is “good” they’ll buy it.
Final thoughts: it’s true that the visibility is no longer what it used to be, completely true. But still, if you manage to do a “good first impression”, then the algorihm will help you.