Making the most of Steam Discovery Queue
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The Discovery Queue is a feature of the Steam store where in user's are presented with a selection of games the Steam algorithm feels they may be interested in. Through various promotions Steam encourages users to "complete" there queue daily and user's organically browse the queue as the algorithm is actually very good at finding games a player may be interested in.
Getting your game to show up in a user's queue is massively important especially to develop early visibility / awareness of your game.
Unlike some platforms (google) Steam is open about how its algorithms and tools work. The current understanding for the Discovery Queue is that it prioritizes the following
(in no particular order)
- Top Sellers
- High Conversion Rate
- High Metacritic Score 80% or more
- Positive Rating 80% or more
- New to store
- Is on sale
- Relatable to user e.g. similar games, likes, etc.
This is based on the total amount of money earned by the product in a given period of time. This can be a very hard one for indie games to achieve when competing in common categories however if your game is niche this becomes more achievable.
Put simply this is 'number of sales' / 'number of visitors' ... this presents an interesting point when dealing with marketing. Armature marketing such as a one off Facebook, or other social media campaign is mostly concerned with getting people to visit the page you link. The quality of views you get from these sources are very low. This has the adverse impact of lowering your conversion rate.
Put more simply, armature marketing efforts can successfully flood your store page with views comparative to no marketing. Very few of these views however will lead to a sale and this will have the net effect of driving your conversion rate down.
Professional marketing on the other hand usually has a concept of "journey" or "funnel" and focused on "converting" users that is ... focused on getting sales. When done correctly professional marketing should raise your conversion rate.
For your game to have a page in Metacritic you need to submit its info in GameFAQ, Achieving an 80% or higher on Metacritic is important and helps drive the Discovery Queue it also earns you a green tick mark both in Metacritic's pages and on Steam's pages when you have a score of 75% or better. Even getting your game listed on Metacritic is the first challenge.
You can find a list of all the critics that are currently used to calculate the Metacritic score in their FAQ under the 'Which critics and publications are included in your calculations' option. If you plan on doing this your self you would need to review each critic and select those that you feel will relate most to your game and engage with them to try and earn a review from them.
We do strongly recommend you use a professional marketing firm with established relationships with Metacritic registered critics and publications. As with any business the relationships available to you are critically important and a random developer sending a review key is not going to get as favourable a response as a known and trusted marketing firm as sad as that may be.
Keep in mind Metacritic only accepts scores posted within 1 year of the game's official release date. Make sure you accomplish this before then and that you have your official release date listed correctly.
Steam reviews as much as we may not like it are the life blood of a game on Steam, this is true rather your a tiny indie or a massive AAA. A strong community with a positive relationship pre-release can help drive initial reviews. Investing in professional Community Management be that by staffing up or selecting a partner is strongly advised.
Being new on the store and having an upcoming release data that is close helps drive visibility.
Do not exploit this by shifting your release date to keep it perpetually "near" ... you will get caught, you will get removed, you will get ban
Your games first appearance on the store and its release date are your two largest waves of visibility your game is likely to ever experience. Work closely with your marketing and community teams to maximize this opportunity and most importantly
Do not announce your game or release your game until you are ready to exploit that wave of visibility.
If your game is on sale be that a custom sale or a general sale then it is more likely to appear in the Discovery Queue for players.
This is a complex one, Steam has a number of mechanisms for categorizing games driven by tags, play time, revie scores and relationships between games found in that sort of backend data. Our article on the Store Page may be of use here with regards to tags and page setup.