Steam Greenlight: The First 48 Hours
Not very long ago, our team explored the idea of bringing our iPad game to the PC/Mac platforms following the mobile release. The benefits were obvious: larger audience, largest distribution platform, and low costs to make the move. The problems were also obvious: the game was built for iPad and may not port well, the time investment is time that could be spent polishing the mobile version, and no one on the team had experience with the Greenlight process Steam uses to curate projects for eventual release through the Steam client.
I wanted to take a moment to share the last 48 hours with you to help you relive the rollercoaster our team rode (and continues to ride), and share some of the lessons we’ve already learned.
We prepped and launched our Greenlight page with pretty low expectations. As an educational gaming company targeting middle school students, Steam seems an odd choice for us to distribute through (they focus on general gaming and don’t even collect demographic information on their users). However, after enough students from focus groups and often young adults from events asked about PC distribution, we decided to look into it as well.
We had a nice launch video and plenty of screenshots to show our progress. With that, Lindsey built and launched the page at 11:03pm, then promptly went to sleep. We hadn’t bothered sharing it yet because we knew this would be a long, uphill battle to get greenlit and we needed some more preparation and time to implement a strategy.
We woke up the next morning, came into the office, and got settled into our routine. It wasn’t until Lindsey decided to share it and accessed our Steam Greenlight page did we realize what happened over night. In just over 12 hours, we were sitting with more than 350 “Yes” votes and nearly 40% of the way to being in the top 100. On top of that, we had nearly 30 comments with users engaging with us, giving us feedback or just telling they loved the idea.
We were excited, but all we could think was: “How?”
As soon as we realized how miscalculated our assumptions were about the type of traction we could get with Steam, we focused on how to keep the momentum alive. We sprung into action with the whole office, those in and those out on vacation, sharing our project with all our relevant circles. We boosted a post on Facebook, responded to the users with questions in the Greenlight comments, and opened discussions on monetization and Steam Workshop support. After months of crunch, it was also a pleasant moment for the team to work with renewed vigor after seeing the excitement on our page.
At the 24-hour mark, we made an announcement on the Greenlight page sharing the first 24-hour analytics. Users had voted just short of 700 “Yes”s, putting us at 91% of the way towards the top 100! We now had 50 comments and a great response in the monetization discussion.
At 5:18am on Christmas Eve, 30 hours after launching, Tyto Ecology broke into the top 100 on Steam Greenlight at rank 98. It broke into the top 50 at 41 hours after launching the page, and as of this writing, is sitting at 39th. We are still actively engaging with the community, sharing updates on social media, and finding ways to keep the momentum going. It appears, by all accounts, Tyto Ecology is going to get Greenlit relatively quickly, and that will positively impact our development schedule.
So how did we manage to garner this kind of support from an unlikely source?
Well, first, we have to recognize we made an incorrect assumption. We dismissed Steam and the PC/Mac Platforms to focus on mobile due to the popularity of tablets in homes and schools and lack of demographic information about our target users on Steam. We still believe the decision to go mobile was the right decision, but Greenlight taught us not to dismiss opportunities that can be explored inexpensively. It cost only a little bit of time to establish the Greenlight page, which then allowed us to gauge user interest.
What Immersed Games experienced in the last 48 hours is not uncommon. We made business assumptions with the best information we had and followed a plan to accomplish our release goals. But during customer discovery, we were asked frequently to consider Steam. We found a low-cost way of testing that market via Steam Greenlight, which allowed us to prove and disprove many assumptions we had about our game, our market, and our plan.
We’re not making any knee-jerk reactions to this limited data-set. We’re just keeping an open mind to what users are saying in the comments, in their Yes and No votes, and the discussions. We thought others might find our last 48-hours interesting, as well as the takeaway lessons we learned.
Hope everyone is having as great of a Christmas Eve as we are!