Opinion: Eyes on the prize

Opinion: Eyes on the prize

By Darryl Still

May 18th 2017 at 3:48PM

CEO of publisher Kiss, Darryl Still, gives us his thoughts on how to make your game attractive in a crowded PC marketplace

It’s no secret that things are getting difficult for publishers and developers alike in the independent PC space. With an estimated 4,500 games published on Steam last year, it has become harder and harder to get eyes on your prize product, as it disappears behind the “popular new releases” tab on Steam.

Thankfully Valve is aware of this and is putting things in place to help. But in the meantime what can we do to help ourselves?

Well, one of the key things is to make sure you get your games listed everywhere else. A good bright front page listing on another vendors’ website is as good as an advert or review in adding discoverability.

Okay, so sales volumes and royalties at the end of each month may not be significant from some of these guys, but how many eyes have been on your shiny screenshot? How many consumers inspired to put your game in their wish list for the next time it comes on sale on Steam? How many people has this listing just triggered to find out more?

As a publisher, we work very closely with all vendors, and not just the full- time stores like the excellent pro- active Green Man Gaming. Bundle sites also have quite active stores and run their own promotional events (not bundles) for your full price game. The likes of Humble Store, Galastore, DIG and Bundlestars store are all very reactive and offer great promotional activities for your titles. 

One of the key things is to make sure you get your games listed everywhere
Darryl Still, KISS CEO 

Their users are not exclusive to them, but may either purchase from their store or via their Steam account. Publisher owned stores like Origin and UPlay are harder and less indie focussed, but there are many white label sites like Nexway and Ztorm, which offer a good service to hundreds of retail sites around the world and are always worth getting listed on.

One of the best known vendors out there (who we have had high expectations for – so far not met) is the mighty Amazon. They have failed so far to crack the huge download market, stumbling across issues of territory, staff changes and many of the other bureaucracies that beset massive corporations. They are focussed on this, but in the meantime the numbers they deliver are out of all proportion to their potential.

Their audience is huge and discoverability for your game through the Amazon sites around the world can be massive. Getting them listed is a complete project in itself, but one well worth doing, or getting a publisher to do for you. It will not pay back (yet) in number of units sold, but how many times have you found an album on Amazon and then gone to iTunes to download it? The same applies with games – a good attractive Amazon listing can drive many sales through Steam.

Hopefully one day Amazon will see the benefit of putting more time and effort into an industry that, after all, is bigger than the film and music industries where it made its name.

So get your games listed on as many sites as you can, or get a publisher who already has contracts in place to do it for you. They probably won’t do it without getting Steam rights too, as it’s still mostly Steam sales they are driving, but it is an essential part of any publisher package these days.

Get listed. You never know who may be looking for a game just like yours.