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Farm for your Life’s Lifetime on Greenlight
by Oliver Eberlei on 05/30/13 05:08:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

This article was first posted on my blog on hammer-labs.com. I've edited the text a little bit so it makes more sense for readers who don't know me and my studio (so probably most of you ;) )

Hi guys,

For the last seven months, the very first commercial game I have ever created - Farm for your Life - has been on Greenlight with the hopes of being able to sell it one day through Steam. As of tuesday, our game is no longer available through the plattform.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

1) We had an internal struggle about the account and, well, the game lost I guess. (A lesson learned in choosing your partners very carefully. This had nothing to do with the folks at Valve)
And b) – as you will see – it was highly unlikely that we would reach the goal. Since we get asked all the time if or when the game will be on steam, lingering on Greenlight felt like misrepresenting that possibility.

Anyways, moving forward. I want to show you some of the data we got from Greenlight about the progress of our game. Since our game got removed rather quickly and without notice, the only stats I can show you are from the beginning of April. I will also give my thoughts about all the stats, but please be aware that Farm for your Life is my only data point, so my observations are highly unreliable ;-)

(Just a quick note, If you put a game on Greenlight, you get so many statistics about it, it’s like porn really ;-) you have been warned)

Ok, I want to start slow. So here is a chart of how many people voted yes and no:
VotesOnYourItem

As you can see, about 60% of all the people who voted on our game voted “No”. You will see later that the best games on Greenlight have this ratio more heavily shifted towards “Yes” (about 60% vote yes for popular items). If I had to make a guess, I would assume that Farm for your Life, being a casual game, was probably not the right game for Steam. Another likely possibility – since Farm for your Life is our first game – is that the game is simply not good enough.

However, scrolling through the comments showed lot’s of very nice and encouraging messages. So, even though we got more No votes, the overwhelming majority of comments were positive. I loved that a lot about Greenlight and I regulary scanned the comments to get a motivational boost. (I was waiting for the trolls to come any day… but they didn’t show up :-) )

ViewsAndVotes

This graph shows the amount of unique views (new visitors seeing our page) and votes during our lifetime on Greenlight. As you can see we started really, really strong. This is highly motivating in the beginning and you immediately think “this is easy, we will be on Steam in no time”. Here is a facebook post of myself after three days of being on Greenlight:
FacebookPost

The graph I posted on Facebook is an ealier version of the stats and this was the only data we got back in October. However, you can see clearly that we did better than the average Top 100 item. Awesome!!!!
The spirits were up and I calculated in my head that it would only take about a month to race through the Greenlight process and get on Steam. Well, not so much ;-)

You can see the early peak and rapid dropoff in the lifetime graph. The way greenlight works is that visitors will be shown random games they have not yet rated and then they can either select “Yes, I want this on Steam” or “No, next please”.
As I have gathered from other developers (and the other stats we have) this initial spike is very common, since the “usual Greenlight crowd” will cycle through your game quite quickly. After that you are on your own to get new people to vote for you. To make matters worse, after about three days we dropped of the first page of the “Newly Released” site and got lost in the noise of Greenlight.

I want to note that we were featured on Rock Paper Shotgun in May and I am really sorry that I don't have a screenshot of the data for that. But since the RPS article was a very isolated datapoint for us, we could see the impact of that article quite clearly. We got about 200-300 new “Yes” votes and we even saw a small bump in the following graph: (the RPS bump is faked by me so you can get an idea on the relative impact)

CumulativeYesVotes

As you can see, even though we got a short article on Rock Paper Shotgun, it’s really just a small bump. So one article alone is not enough to shift the odds to your favor. You need massive and constant exposure.

Note: Getting through the Greenlight process successfully is a lot of hard work.

This graph also shows very clearly that other games have the same initial spike in the first few days and after that it’s a tough climb to the top. Take note of entry #15 (the brown graph). They had roughly the same curve like we did (the bumps at day 60 and 90 look just like our RPS bump) but then, all of the sudden did god knows what to get discovered. So, if you have been on Greenlight a long time, not all is lost. Be patient and try new ideas to get discovered. You never know what will work.

The last bit of the statistics show you all the hard numbers that show you just how much people you need to successfully get through the Greenlight process.

Numbers1

Numbers2

I have to admit, marketing is not my strong suite. So I wasn’t able to do a lot to move the needle in my favour. The Rock Paper Shotgun article was pure luck and in no way resulted in any of my attemps to reach blogs and news outlets. So these results are definitely my own fault. But, as you can see in the numbers, Farm for your Life was a looooong way off to successfuly get onto Steam. The last count on “Yes” votes was just over 8000 and the top items on steam have over 40000 (note that is says average Top 50, so the best once that actually get greenlit have probably a lot more).

However, the Greenlight process has been good to our little game. As you can see, we got 27161 unique pair of eyes seeing our game and the first month we put our game on Greenlight we definitely saw an increase in Beta sales on our website. So even though we didn’t make it, we still got a lot of exposure and good will for our game that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

I hope this post helps other developers, who are thinking about putting their game up on Greenlight, to get an idea for what it will take. Again, I wasn’t very good at playing this game, but we will definitely try to find other avenues to put our game into peoples hands.

Thank you for reading and I will see you next time.

 

About Farm for your Life

Farm for your Live is combining different genres by mixing up familiar environments and plots into a unique gameplay experience addressing players who are into farm-, restaurant- and time-management games.

Several details like refreshing mini-games, unexpected tower defense elements and the fact that you have to survive a zombie apocalypse without any guns create a gaming experience no one should miss.

Website: www.farmforyourlife.com

About Hammer Labs

Hammer Labs is a small game development studio found by Andreas Bendt and Oliver Eberlei in 2013, shortly after they have graduated from university. The company serves as an umbrella to unify all their creative projects and teams. It’s a place of experimentation and creation, addressing passionate gamers and developers alike.

Hammer Labs is currently working on a mobile version of Farm for your Life and a Sci-Fi Shoot 'em Up called Sky Arena for the Ouya

Website: www.hammer-labs.com


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Comments


Daneel Filimonov
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Thanks for the statistics! I also have a game in the making (currently hidden on Greenlight), and this article puts things into perspective. Seems like marketing and connections are really important to keeping your game alive on Greenlight. This is some good insight, Oliver!

Oliver Eberlei
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I'm glad the article helps. Good luck with you game :-)

Enrique Dryere
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Greenlight is a harsh popularity contest as it stands, but there is hope. Check out the highlights from a recent dev chat that Valve hosted: http://indiedevrant.tumblr.com/post/49879544051/main-points-of-va
lves-greenlight-dev-chat-5-7-13

Oliver Eberlei
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It's going to be interesting to see what they will do, for sure.

Craig Timpany
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So would it be correct to infer from this that the threshold is currently 25K upvotes?

Oliver Eberlei
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Over 40K actually. You can see in the second to last picture that the average to 50 game has 40k votes, so it's safe to assume that the games in the top 10 have even more.

Abel Bascunana Pons
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I have almost the same stats as you for our game http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=127626930 and I don't think they will improve over time, no matter how much marketing and virality we try.
Personally, I think our presentation video wasn't good enough to attract players, the concept wasn't explained properly so the player doesn't know how he will play the game (this is the video we used for our KS campaign, and it had the same negative impact there). So a good presentation is a must, the more spectacular the gameplay takes, the better.

Also, the genre must be taken into account. It seems that First Person games are greenlighted with more frequency, specially those made with the hammer editor, understandable taking into account it's Valve engine and I suppose this is used as self-promotion, don't get me wrong, I don't want to undermine the great quality of those greenlight games. Also FP games may work commercially better than other types of games, just an assumption.

So for us, we will relaunch a new greenlight item in the future with a better video presentation. I think the initial momentum is really important, it can generate its own virality through Steam, as your friends can see the games you favored and this can have a snowball effect.

Anyways, good luck in you new endeavours Oliver, I hope it all turns out well in the future! =)

Oliver Eberlei
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Awesome debrief on your item. Hope your assumptions turn out to be right and your next go will be more successful.

Regarding "it all turns out well in the future", it absolutely does. As I've said, this is my very first commercial game and it has opened a lot of doors for me. Plus we got accepted on several other platforms. I know that they probably don't have the same reach as Steam, but I'm sure the experience will be just as valuable.

Good luck to you as well Abel.

Rachel Presser
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If it makes you feel any better, we Kickstarted six figures and have a 10+ year following...and got even more No votes on Greenlight.

What a horrifically executed and broken system. I wish you luck and hope Steam's overhaul benefits us all.

Oliver Eberlei
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A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved ;) Thanks for sharing yours and I'm happy for you that you had such a great success with kickstarter.

What I find encouraging is that there are many other ways that success can be found. Even without Greenlight, we're regulary finding new opportunities for our game. Hope you do, too.

Josh Riley
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I'm guessing not, but does anyone know which game was #15 in that chart that showed the "RPS bump"? That's a pretty insane jump in votes.

Oliver Eberlei
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Impossible to say from this data. I was guessing that they maybe partnered with a popular let's player on youtube. Since the growth is so rapid after one point, a let's player who puts out videos regulary might explain the constant increase in votes.

Thomas Bedenk
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Great that you shared your article on gamasutra Oliver!

Oliver Eberlei
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I'm glad you liked it and thanks for the encouragement on twitter :-)

Roger Haagensen
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You might want to poke GoG as well, they might be interested in adding your game to their catalog.

http://www.gog.com/support/contact/business

Oliver Eberlei
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We did, they're not ;) I see a pattern. But we are talking with BFG and even got a retail deal in europe (http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00BZMGR2C/ref=s9_simh_gw_p63_d0_
i1?pf_rd_m=A3JWKAKR8XB7XF&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1EZW47RF9VJZ0V
6PDCKV&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=463375173&pf_rd_i=301128)

Even if that probably won't make any money, I am very much looking forward to see a hardcover of the game :-)

Dave Wishnowski
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Thank you so much for posting this. Now I know for a fact that I am not alone and doing anything terribly wrong. My project also has a 10+ year strong following and even has magazine and mainstream coverage. Still, same boat as you. CRAZY good response in first few days (thousands of YES votes), super positive comments, and then it completely flat lined no matter what I do. It's been losing its' "percentage to Top 100" very slowly ever since.

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92916857

Maybe it's just because Pro Wrestling get's no love on PC?!

Ian Boswell
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Well I have this to say:
I was able to get greenlit by using my connections on Steam's user-base to actually use STEAM itself instead of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Kickstarter etc...

Heck my Kicksarter even failed, miserably:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/myxyla/rush-bros?ref=live

But I was able to get greenlit, because I know how to actally USE Steam Greenlight, unlike 99% Of Greenlight submissions. That is the key get getting greenlit, to know how to actually USE STEAM as a social networking tool. Because 100% of steam users who own a game can vote for your greenlight game.

What % Can Facebook / Twitter users vote? Less than 1% most likely.

See my Greenlight page for evidence on how to do this right: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=108459957

Michael Oliva
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Now that Farm For Your Life is going to be in a Groupees indie bundle I wonder if there might be any way to get it back up on Greenlight again? Perhaps not but it seems that in the past having games in bundles while promising Steam keys if Greenlit has been an effective way to get Greenlight votes.

For most games unless it's something super popular and mainstream like zombies and guns etc I think the developers will pretty much have to launch their own campaign to be their own PR and get people to go to their Greenlight page to vote as the typicial Greenlight regulars may not be the sort who would vote for a niche game.

Anyway, I think the game deserves another shot on Greenlight with the publicity and potential votes it may get from being in a bundle, but I completely understand if there are other agreements and partnerships and so forth that may be preventing it.

I for one would vote for it if it came back.


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