What are Steam Points? What were Summer Festival’s lessons?


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[Hi, I’m Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, which you can subscribe to now, a regular look at how people find – and buy – your video games. Or don’t.]

Well, the Steam Summer Sale has just gone live. It coincided with a new, unexpected feature roll-out that’s made me change my lead story for this week’s Tales From Discoverabilityland round-up. So let’s go for it!

What the heck are Steam Points?

Just before the Steam Summer Sale went live today, my No More Robots colleague Mike Rose spotted a new ‘Award’ button next to all user reviews on Steam:

This confused us for fully 7 minutes (lol), before the complete Steam update launched. At this point, we were able to work out that the Steam Points Shop was now live:

Fitting all the details into a single Twitter post is not the easiest. So, expanding on that:

  • This is a ‘spend money to get Steam Points, then redeem them for cute cosmetic items’ feature. It doesn’t fundamentally change anything about Steam’s monetization. It’s a permanent extension of similar Sale-only point experiments.

  • Specifically, the things you are buying with Steam Points are either Valve-created generic cosmetics for your Steam profile and Steam chat, or “emoticons and profile backgrounds associated with the games you own”.

  • Many of these game-specific items already exist as part of Steam Trading Cards rewards (example), and “…can now be directly acquired by using Steam Points. Don’t worry, you can still use the Steam card crafting to get those items if you wish.”

  • No, this new feature doesn’t replace Steam Trading Cards (there’s a FAQ at the bottom of this page which notes “We know people enjoy collecting Steam Trading Cards and crafting badges, so we have no plans to remove them at this time.”)

  • Why did Valve add this feature? I see it as some fun gamification that ultimately should help with Steam user retention. It’s also intended as a bit of a positive feedback loop – note you can only select ‘nice’ awards, that’s cute.

I see a bunch of people on social media saying ‘how is this going to mess things up?’. And I freely admit that any large userbase can unexpectedly abuse systems at any time, haha. But it seems like a benign and incremental addition to me so far*. (*Famous last words.)

[Lars Doucet did a step-by-step ‘awarding reviews’ walkthrough with screenshots if you want to see more, btw.]

Steam Summer Game Festival – results?

Ugh, I really wish (for my brain’s sake) that Steam hadn’t put the word ‘Summer’ in two very different promotions that ran sequentially. This section is about the ‘demos of over 900 yet to be released Steam’ games event that ran until June 22nd.

I’ve gathered – both on and off the record, and via social media – some of the wishlist and demo download numbers. Here goes:

Non-featured SummerFest demos

If your game demo wasn’t one of the ‘Featured’ ones that appeared as default on the Festival homepage, and was generally lower-profile, you tended to pick up 500 to 1000 wishlists.

Eldritch Zookeeper dev Matt Luard was kind enough to send me his wishlist stats across the Festival:

So that’s 600 new wishlists in total. It was quite a boost from the daily wishlists additions before the Summer Festival, too, if you look closely.

Further dataon this is provided by Do Not Buy This Game dev Roee Amar, who tagged me on Twitter with a series of stats, including 497 new wishlists, as well as 668 demo downloads.

One other example here – Victor Burgo, the dev of Neko Ghost, Jump has a very detailed Reddit thread revealing he ended up getting 191 wishlists and 271 demo downloads during the Festival.

Featured SummerFest demos

Obviously, those games that were ‘featured’ by Valve did better in the Festival. Though in most cases, they likely had a bigger fanbase in the first place, and some were adding significant wishlists even before the Festival. But the Festival really boosted things!

A great example is turn-based tactical RPG The Last Spell, which has a detailed Twitter thread about its results from Hegor. Here’s the wishlist info:

So The Last Spell added around 8,600 wishlists during the Steam Festival, though it already had about 14,000 beforehand. In addition, about 6,000 people downloaded the demo.

Elsewhere, according to Twitter, tactical RPG Shores Unknown – which was featured – got 4,200 extra wishlists, when previously the game “was getting 20-30 WLs on a good day”. And 3,600 people added the game’s demo, though around 2,000 actually downloaded it.

And wine-making sim Hundred Days, which was both featured and additionally highlighted by Valve in a spotlight video, ended up adding over 5,000 wishlists in the first two days – actually even better than their LudoNarraCon wishlist additions. (So I presume they ended up between 10k and 20k extra.)

Finally, you can go look at the SteamDB graphs for a game (in this case, Iron Harvest, the Festival’s most-wishlisted game when it all started) to see how Followers were boosted. Looks like Iron Harvest added 6,000 followers, which could be… 35,000 to 40,000 extra wishlists? (Depending on the conversion from followers to wishlists.)

So that’s the answer on how games did – anywhere from 200 to 40,000 extra wishlists! From what I’ve seen, though, pretty much everyone who participated in the Festival thought it was worth doing. You might have wanted more wishlists, but you appreciated the ones you got.

‘Not-E3’ Showcases – Some Handy Updates

Finally, I already did a bunch of analysis on the ‘not-E3’ streaming game showcase events in that earlier round-up. But there’s two or three new things to note here:

New events! I particularly wanted to link to the Double Fine & iam8bit’s Day Of The Devs showcase, Pt. 1 at Summer Game Fest (full video, don’t miss the ALF appearance just before it, cos ?!?) – one of my favorite showcases so far.

Thought this was a really well put-together & well-paced set of games, overall – though it possibly got incrementally less buzz because a) there’s showcase burnout b) they were a little artsier than other showcases. Here’s most of the DoTD v1 trailers in one place, which is handy. Bias disclaimer: we partner with Day Of The Devs for GDC, haha!

Aggregated trailers! Only just became aware of this, but the E3 2020 Recap page has all of the ‘not E3’ game trailers, sorted by showcase and chronological order, and well categorized. What a great thing.

It includes trailers from the Japanese-centric New Game+ Expo (full video), which happened since the last round-up and I also dug. It was well-focused, in that it got most of the high-profile Japanese mid-tier devs together in one place.

Upcoming attractions! Day Of The Devs has opened submissions for its second virtual event on July 20th, and the deadline to submit is June 29th. So go ahead and put something forward, if you think you’ve got a game that could fit in with their vibe.

Overall, we’re done with most of the showcases now until GamesCom, unless you count things like virtual GDC, which is more conference-y. But there’s still others like BitSummit Gaiden to come (full list, also Thomas Reisenegger notes other showcases you can apply to).

Thanks to everyone who showcased their game in one of these virtual smorgasbords so far. You did good. And that’s it for this week’s roundups. More soon!

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