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October 31, 2020
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Discoverability, Steam's Summer Festival & 'Not-E3' Showcases

by Simon Carless on 06/18/20 10:36:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
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[Hi, I’m Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, a regular look at how people find - and buy - your video games. Or don’t.]

Welcome to another round-up of all the good things happening in the game discoverability space! And thanks to all the new subscribers who hopped on after the ‘wishlists to sales’ post. I’ll be doing another survey or two over the next few weeks/months, so please expect it.

We start out, although it’s early days, with the Steam Summer Festival…

Steam Summer Festival: Early Impressions

So, the Steam Game Festival Summer Edition just went live, and is running through June 22nd. There’s a pretty spectacular amount of demos available to play for unreleased Steam games (over 900), and around 190 of them are in the ‘Featured’ section at the top of the Festival page. A very select amount of games also got video interviewed by Valve, which is super neat. But this is… not a small showcase!

Right up top, I would like to note - I think Valve has done a great job of both building out new/DIY features and being egalitarian for this demo showcase, and are continuing to be the most adaptable & technology-driven game sales platform.

For example, Lars Doucet built tools for subcategories to allow Valve’s curators to better pick and categorize games in the Festival. And the self-scheduling of video showcases is a great way to do things.

Probably the best ‘hot take’ on the Festival so far I’ve seen was from Rose City Games’ Corey Warning (feel free to click through for the whole thread):

Here’s a thread from Ryan Sumo with some specific numbers for Ruinarch too (almost 300 demo downloads so far, and 70 wishlists for first day, up from 1 or 2 the day before).

From what I’ve seen so far, here’s the over/under:

THE GOOD: This is a whole bunch of pre-release exposure on Steam that devs have a lot of trouble getting otherwise. The winning-est set of games are getting 2,000+ wishlists a day, and lots of extra fans watching. And the featured games are literally ones that Valve thought were standouts - no publisher favoring, etc.

THE LESS GOOD: Perhaps expectations were confused (for devs) for how exclusive this would be. There’s a LOT of demos to try, and hundreds of them are high quality - this may be a bit overwhelming for players. Many games are (naturally) going to get a bit buried and end up with hundreds of demo downloads and new wishlists.

So we’ll leave a more detailed postmortem until after the whole thing. I would say - most of the perceived issues are literally the massive amount of great-looking games due out soon.

That particular supply/demand issue is very difficult for platforms to legislate for. (Besides excluding games from being on the platform entirely, which I think most of us have decided is ‘not a good thing’.)

Rise Of The Not-E3 Showcases?

So, we’ve had a chunk of the game showcases timed around E3, with a bunch more to come.

Notable in the past few days was the PC Gaming Show (full video archive), the Future Games Show (full video archive), the 3-day Guerrilla Collective (day 1 videoday 2 videoday 3 videoSteam highlights page), and The Escapist Indie Showcase (full video archive).

There’s still a number of publisher-specific streaming events coming soon, as well as some wider showcases like the largely Japanese-centric New Game+ Expo stream on June 23rd.

As for the reaction to the showcases so far - well, I saw a bunch of excited devs and publishers that their games were featured! And a showcase was a good platform to launch standalone trailers from, which you can then hype alongside wishlists on your own YouTube channel or embedded.

I’m not sure, again, that people were expecting quite so many showcases and games - also from a player perspective. Here’s a slightly grumpy thread on fan forum ResetERA which… well, I could take or leave some of the narrative in there, but I thought this comment was notable:

“June 13th:
PC Gaming Show - 52 games shown in 75 minutes
Future game show - 35 games shown in 80 minutes
Guerrilla Collective day 1 - 44 games shown in 90 minutes

…then on the 14th:
Guerrilla Collective day 2 - 69 games shown in 120 minutes.”

I didn’t do the math on the other showcases, and there’s a few overlapping titles, but you can see this is a LOT of games. So, similarly to the Steam Summer Festival pushback, that was probably the main fan complaint. (“I love watching these games, but there’s just too much stuff, please pick less stuff for me!”)

On the flip side, the reach on a number of these showcases was surprisingly broad. The video streams were often simultaneously on YouTube, Twitch & elsewhere. Plus, with Guerrilla, the major game media sites (GameSpot, IGN, etc) also broadcast them direct to their audiences, there were related Steam showcases, etc, etc. So that’s great.

So, given the ‘too many games’ pushback, was there one place you wanted to be? As part of the PlayStation 5 reveal last week (full video archive), and as noted on Twitter:

Other things…

I’ve already gone pretty long on this newsletter. And there’s a lot more to fit in before we’re done. So let’s switch to paragraph-long links to get this sucker finished:

Until next time, hope you appreciate the info, and thanks.

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