I decided to change how I cover the 3-times-a-year Steam Festival and provide some analysis and results while the festival is still going on!
If you want to watch a fully voiced virtually-in-person analysis of the Steam festival, I uploaded a 30 minute video to Game Marketing Ideas (Click here to watch if you are a member).
Here is a preview
In the video I give more detailed and nuanced analysis so definitely check it out. But if you just want the high level details here are my observations:
Video clips are showing up more
Steam is using the microtrailers in more spots such as at the banner, the hover, and on certain widgets. Microtrailers are auto-generated from the first trailer on your steam page. So it is vitally important that your first trailer is nothing but gameplay. Don’t fluff it up with slow boring footage, or text, or cartoon animations. Keep it to gameplay and only gameplay. Your second and third trailer can have the fluff. But not your first trailer.
Your highest wishlist day is the first day of the festival
This sounds obvious but day 1 and day 2 of the festival are when your game gets the most wishlists. All the other days drop off quite a bit because the festival is no longer novel.
Implement as many Steam features as you can
Steam had some very specific widgets for implementing key features such as full controller support. Your game will show up more places if you do what they want you to implement.
Participate in the last Steam Festival before your launch
Steam Festival widget seem to reward games that have a higher velocity of daily traffic and wishlists. To maximize your chances, opt in to the festival when you have the most wishlists and visibility (just before your launch).
Update your tags as soon as you apply to the festival
The sub-sub-genres Steam festival puts you in is based on your tags. But it builds those pages some unknown number of days before the start of the festival. To make sure you show up where you want, make sure your tags are correct as soon as you opt in to the festival.
Use your streaming slots
Steam gives you 2 slots of your choosing to stream your game and appear on the front page of the festival. Be sure to pick them as soon as you get the chance. Don’t wait. These slots really do boost visibility. This chart shows what stream viewership looks like when your stream is in the featured spot. 4X!
However I don’t know if it is better to use both slots as soon as the festival opens when everyone is trying to stream or later in the festival when no-one is but Steam page traffic is significantly lower. My un-supported gut-feel is that you should still try to pick a featured spot for the moment the festival starts.
Check your demo play time
The games that earned more wishlists during the festival also had longer median playtimes of their demo. You can check this in Steamworks Product page.
For middle class games (earning 200-500 wishlists / day of the festival) saw median playtimes of 5-10 minutes.
Top earners (3000-1500 wishlists / day of the festival) had median play times of 15-60 minutes.
The more engrossing your game, the more likely people will wishlist it, stream it, recommend it to a friend.
Tokyo Game Show (TGS) ended just as the Steam Next Fest started. We saw that games that were featured in TGS started the Steam Next Fest in “Most Popular” list widgets because they had tons of visibility already.
You can’t always plan this but apply to as many festivals as you can. The more you apply for the more likely you are to have serendipitous moments like this.