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[Hi, I’m ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, which you can subscribe to now, a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]
Welcome to the latest edition of the Game Discoverabilityland round-up. In this edition, I smoosh together all of the notable news of the week into one post, so you can consume it like dining out on a fine three-course meal.
Not that any of us is doing that currently, of course. So let’s proceed with the hastily microwaved curry which is this week’s newsletter:
The biggest game Discords in the world ever!
This week, I was chatting (electronically) to Stephen Takowsky, who works on the massive Discord for Terraria at 505 Games (and also used to be a pro Civilization player with Team Liquid!)
Anyhow, Stephen does a bunch of neat work with Discord plug-ins and collaborations between large-scale Discords. He was kind enough to share with me his daily updated list of the most popular game-related Discord servers.
I’ve talked a little bit about Discord in the past. It’s a really great tool to attract and retain a community around your game and update them on your progress, no matter how many people hang out there.
But I thought some of the trends in the biggest/most active servers were super interesting, just to peruse what games are currently popular! Here’s what I particularly noticed:
A lot of the top servers are ‘official’, but not all of them. The ‘verified’ servers for Minecraft, Fortnite and others are run by staff or mods that are approved by the developers themselves. But you also get Discord-partnered servers like Animal Crossing and the Reddit-linked r/LeagueOfLegends – which are not endorsed by the maker of the game, but still thrive anyhow.
The top games are pretty much what I expected. When looking at the most active servers out there, the top titles include Minecraft, Valorant (wow, Riot’s done a good job here!), Fortnite, Rainbow 6, Roblox, and so on. There’s also a few ‘big’ indies like Terraria and Risk Of Rain 2 punching above their weight. And impressed to see Deep Rock Galactic, TemTem & SatisFactory also in the Top 30.
There’s some very active game Discords I was surprised about. If you were to tell me the Top 30 included Spellbreak (a game I clearly need to pay more attention to), Escape From Tarkov and GTFO, I admit I would have been a little surprised. And a Beat Saber modding Discord almost in the Top 10? Yup, that’s reinforcing its position as the breakout VR game – not surprising that Oculus bought the studio.
So that was what I personally took from the rundown of the top Discords! Feel free to read over it yourself and draw your own conclusions.
Which came first – the discount or the wishlist email?
Something that came up on Twitter today that I thought was worth passing along. I made the point that, at least on Steam, it’s not just the fact that a game is on sale that makes people buy it – it’s also Valve’s outbound marketing efforts:
And as if by magic, somebody turned up in the comments to validate my opinion. (I always love it when that happens.)
Obviously, this isn’t the only way that people find out games are on sale. For higher-profile titles, they will see it on Reddit, social media, or via dynamic deal-finding websites like the SteamDB sales tab. And for the larger sales, people will often browse for a while.
But the email is important – and it’s worth looking into those stats further. If you go to the bottom of your ‘Wishlist Actions’ page on the Steam back end, you’ll see a list of all the ‘Wishlist Notifications’ (emails!) sent, with the dates and 1-day and 7-day conversion numbers. (Though I believe this stat only tracks purchases directly from clicks, so you real number is going to be quite a lot higher.)
Oh, and bonus note from me: “Also, you have to discount your game by at least 20% to get the wishlist email sent by Steam!” You all know that, right? It’s on the Steamworks wishlist page documentation, but that’s not necessarily somewhere that we all reference all the time, haha.
As always, there’s plenty of other things going on here. In fact, I’m already filing things to post in NEXT week’s Game Discoverabilityland round-up. So let’s get going on this one, shall we?
There’s going to be a new Microsoft Store on Xbox rolling out soon, with redesigned search functionality, a more prominent wishlist feature (interesting!), and a whole new, faster interface. I actually think the existing Xbox store interface was in the ‘good enough’ category for me, and so perhaps this one will take it to ‘great’. (Hoping for ‘Hot New Games’ real-time charts, too, but a boy can dream…)
Liam Twose, who does the #pitchyagame tag on Twitter, also has a Global Games Industry directory he’s hosting for free on Itch (PDF) and Trello. I know directories can be unwieldy (and get outdated!), but I was impressed with his publisher list in here – there will almost certainly be indie pubs you don’t know.
In case you missed it, and SteamDB on Twitter didn’t, Valve “has recently made changing your store country more strict, which requires completing a purchase using a payment method from that country. This should hinder [those] using VPNs to buy games cheaper.” Some rumblings of reduced sales because of this, but it’s a bit early to tell, and I imagine the revenues will equalize (if not units).
Epic noted that mod support is now in beta on the Epic Games Store, starting with Mechwarrior 5. This is interesting, and not a feature I was expecting as an Epic-exclusive integration. IMO, the ‘mods on PC’ situation is starting to get messy, given there’s Steam Workshop, third-party solutions like Mod.io (which you can use on Steam!), and then Microsoft’s Game Store on PC requires specific moderation standards for mods… maybe a subject for another time!
There’s an MCV Develop interview with Inkle’s Joseph Humfrey & my bombastic No More Robots compadre Mike Rose about the state of the eShop for discoverability. I’ve already gone on about this at length, but Nintendo needs to think about the ‘charts/eShop interface encouraging 90% off discounts’ thing. (I think NMR might be sharing Not Tonight eShop discount results abstractly soon, that was an experiment that worked irritatingly well.)
Scourgebringer director Thomas Altenburger has an excellent Twitter thread about pitching to publishers that I recommend you read. Basically: know your publisher, have a playable prototype, have a short/sweet 5-page pitch deck, maybe even make a 5-minute ‘this is us and our game!’ video, be very specific about production budget and schedule. (But read the thread!) Some people get a bit, uhm, overblown with their pitches.
More asset guidelines for game devs, the sexiest thing in the world! This time, Steph H. & the smart folks at Evolve have done one for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Discord, Twitch, LinkedIn (!), YouTube and Steam. Twin this with Derek Lieu’s game trailer specs, and you may be tearing your hair out marginally less.
Microlinks: Epic’s Tim Sweeney talks about the metaverse (& game platform costs!), xCloud gaming streaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is out on September 15th on Android (and probably not at all on iOS, hah), ‘make a game in our game’ service Core announced a Dungeons & Dragons IP hookup/contest, Switch eShop game releases in July were up by almost 30, year on year.
Finally this week – I was amused, following my piece about sales/reviews ratios and the Steam UI change, to have someone point out this amazing example:
(Subtext: Farming Simulator fans like ploughing fields a LOT. So they’ve been getting Steam reminders galore to review the game, following their daily tractor ride.)
Until next time, hope you enjoyed that curry!