Festival Planning

Currently the number one way to get visibility and wishlists for your Steam game are online, virtual events (aka festivals) that Steam has given prominent featuring. They are the best way (and probably easiest) way to get your game seen by hundreds of thousands of potential buyers.

In this week’s post I am reviewing the 2021 festival season and when events occurred so you can prepare for 2022’s festival season.

What even is an event or festival?

Since in-person festivals (such as Gamescom or E3) were canceled in 2020, Valve picked up the slack by hosting virtual online festivals within Steam. Typically these festivals appear as huge grids full of games with some beautiful art. 

Here is a screenshot of one such festival called theMix Game Dev Direct

TheMix was run by a 3rd party not part of Valve. However, 3 times a year Valve throws an official in-house event called “Steam Next Fest.”

Seriously! You are not taking festivals seriously enough

If a festival has prominent featuring by Steam, participating games can earn 400-1000 even 2000 wishlists over just a few days. Your game is exposed to hundreds of thousands of dedicated Steam shoppers. Festivals also introduce your game to influencers looking for games to play and can lead to follow on exposure if they decide to play your game on their channel.

The publishers of the recently launched (and quite successful) Exo One showed their marketing campaign and 5 of their highest wishlist spikes were directly attributable to their participation in online festivals. Look at this annotated chart and read his Twitter thread here.

Similarly, the developer of card-battler Jupiter Moons Mecha recently gave a talk and attributed 9 of his games highest wishlist spikes to festivals and helped him collect over 20,000 wishlists in total.

Prepare for 2022 festival season

Festivals occur every month of the year but there are definitely festival seasons where there are multiple every week. This festival season is when you can really expect to grow your game’s profile.

June and October were definitely the busiest of months with more than 1 festival a week. The low season was at the start of the year and in August (is that holiday season in Europe?).

This data is from 2021 so who knows what is in store for us next year, but it is likely that Summer through early Autumn is going to be festival season again.

Prepare your demo now

Many of the festivals require a playable demo to participate. So, use this relatively slow period in the festival season to prepare one and test it with naïve users.

You should also start saving. Many festivals have participation fees (some as high as $1000). Typically the enormous exposure you get is worth the fee.

March is the first jump in festival time and it will be here sooner than you realize. So get ready.

How do I enter?

Don’t take my 2021 festival chart as gospel for 2022. Festivals are unpredictable and there may be new ones cropping up or be rescheduled. 

Stay up to date by checking this FANTASTIC festival calendar maintained by Artur (the developer behind Jupiter Moons Mecha.) The chart also includes information about where and how to enter each festival and how much it costs and whether the entrance fee was worth it.

You can also join my Discord where we have programmed a bot to automatically remind you of the festival deadlines from Artur’s calendar. Join the HTMAG Discord to get your reminders.

Other helpful resources

Read the following on how to create, test, and monitor your demo:

Information about festivals: