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September 20, 2017
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Best Practices: Game Websites and Landing Pages

by Jennifer Mendez on 07/12/17 10:07:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Steam has long since exceeded 125 million concurrent users, all of whom are exposed to well over 10,000 games. The year 2015 saw the largest growth, with as many new games added as the past 10 years combined. With an average of $24.5 billion in annual video game sales in the U.S. alone— across all platforms— it quickly becomes clear just how important it is to stand out from the crowd with a quality game website and landing pages.

The power of a carefully crafted official game website should never be underappreciated. It is a mecca of everything put out by a single studio, a hub of creativity and self-expression that, when put together effectively, captures a targeted audience. While Steam can sell your game on a popular platform alongside the competition, an official website can directly sell your game too—minus the rivalry. Think of your website as a direct line to potential customers where you can present your game exactly the way you want to. It can help you build a following and even keep the lion’s share of revenue from each game sale.

The merits of having a fully fleshed out official website with its own store page are worth considering. Apart from the creative expression, it’s a direct line of communication with the players. It’s essentially cutting out the middleman. If you need help, there’s always resources like PayPal or Xsolla that can process payments quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, it’s all about you and the players, focusing on engagement and community.

Most indie developers tend to think that Steam is far more important because of sheer popularity, as well as their quantifiable sales data, but the fact is that the content on both platforms is vital to the overall success of a game. A meticulously crafted landing page on Steam may lead players to an official website, blog, and even social media accounts. In the end, everything is connected.

In this article, we’re going to discuss what exactly needs to go into a high-quality Steam landing page and game website. We’re going to dive into the tools used by successful developers, and we’re going to highlight some game pages that got things right.

 

Selecting an Effective Theme

Before diving into the individual content that game websites and landing pages need to incorporate, consider the overall design of your landing page, game website, and Steam page.

There’s only so much you can do with Steam in terms of design, so quality content is absolutely important: it helps you stand out from the crowd. However, your landing page and game website are all yours to customize, and that’s an opportunity that should never be passed up. Even without any design skills, anyone can make a beautiful website these days with the simple theme tools provided by most website hosts, like WordPress and SquareSpace.

The reason this is so important is that a good presentation can help attract customers and press. A design that defines the individual style of the studio—and all those who are a part of it—makes your work that much more personal. It helps to capture an audience.

Begin by selecting a theme that works in line with your content. Ask yourself if you can organize things effectively and easily with each theme, and use a filter option to highlight the best layouts for your needs. It’s always unprofessional to keep changing your website’s theme, as it can confuse readers and potential players, so be sure of your choice prior to publication.

Another helpful tool is Macaw, which is a code-savvy web designer meant for those who have yet to learn how to code. It allows you to rapidly construct prototypes and mock-ups, while generating underlying HTML and CSS in the background. This saves you the trouble of starting work on a WordPress theme.

Divi is another option. This drag and drop system allows you to build anything visually in real time, with the power to customize everything to meet your exact needs. All you need to do is click, type, and organize elements like text boxes or graphics. Those concerned about the possible loading times might find that Divi is fast and requires no refreshes of any kind.

Keep in mind that most users use mobile to go to sites like personal blogs and official websites. Ensure that the theme you select is mobile-optimized for both smartphones and tablets. When designing the site, preview it on all devices and browsers to ensure text isn’t cut off. Fix any excessive spaces, icon visibility issues, and long loading times. Readers don’t like waiting long—an average of 25% of readers abandon the page after only four seconds.

 

Incorporating the Game Image & Description

The top 4 things that make any website, whether your own or on Steam, seem unprofessional are low-resolution or grainy pictures, outdated information, poor font choices or colors, and typos or bad grammar. For this reason, when adding game images and descriptions to your website, blog, Steam page, etc., you absolutely must proofread and judge everything. Is it low-resolution? Is it too small? Did you miss a semicolon in the description? (Hint: Just don’t use semicolons)

Using Ubisoft’s 2016 game Watch Dogs 2 as an example, the game cover focuses on the main character, while providing detail on other characters, the city, and the overall gameplay. It doesn’t spoil anything important, but it gives just enough information to draw in players. Also, the resolution is high and sized appropriately to avoid any distortion. All in all, the image is professional and eye-catching, which helps it stand out on game-selling platforms.

As for descriptions, they need to be meticulously edited for flow, tone, and grammar. One to three well-written sentences is more than enough. Keep it short, simple, and straight to the point. What is the game about, in 50 words or less? For instance, consider Niklas Hallin’s Belladonna. In 39 words, the game description was complete, detailed, and interesting:

“Belladonna is a mystery point-and-click adventure in classic style.
Unravel the tale of Belladonna and her husband Wolfram, as the dead are brought back to life and the living are not to be trusted. Passion, betrayal, murder – and reanimation!”

Meanwhile, Terraria captured players with just 16 words:

“Dig, fight, explore, build! Nothing is impossible in this action-packed adventure game. Four Pack also available!”

Avoiding common mistakes, such as poorly edited or resized photographs or typos can make the difference between amateur and professional. Focus on selecting the best assets of your game and elevating them through tactfully selected game images and engaging copy.

 

Creating the Trailer & Screenshots

Game trailers and screenshots are the first things that players see when clicking into a Steam landing page or visiting an official website. It is a reliable method for them to see what the gameplay is like, as well what visuals to expect.

Of course, game trailers can be daunting for indie studios with small budgets. However, trailers are an absolute must, because just one look at Steam, the App Store, or Google Play makes it clear that the market is getting oversaturated. To keep up you need a trailer. This entices customers, who often don’t purchase games without seeing gameplay first.

Fortunately, keeping costs low is easily done thanks to a variety of software choices. iMovie is commonly used, but Adobe Premier Pro is just as popular, if not more. Use Reflector on Mac or FRAPS on PC to capture screenshots and video live from devices, then compile them seamlessly.

In regard to screenshots, focus on variety. There is no specific average size, but 1920 x 1080 is a decent place to start, assuming your game incorporates plenty of detailed artwork. Some aim higher, at 2048 x 2030, but others are just fine at 1120 x 630. Whatever the case, large screenshots with plenty of detail are always welcome, as long as you focus on showing different aspects of the game, such as levels, characters, landscape detail, and vehicles or mounts.

Also keep in mind that Steam has changed its rules: screenshots must actually represent games. They absolutely need to be in-game images. No concept art here, or else it may be considered false advertising.

 

Writing About the Game

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a massively multiplayer online survival game created by Bluehole is an ideal model to follow on Steam. It is a popular Early Access game with a landing page worthy of envy. It features all the information that players and press could want while still customizing elements to make it their own. For instance, there are a variety of images in the overview section that draw the eye to important information while also establishing the game’s feel.

More so, they didn’t skimp on their game detail. Following a one-sentence hook – “This is battle royale,” they write eleven solid paragraphs: one to set the stage, three to explain playerunknown, and the rest to specifically dissect individual game elements anyone can understand, like community, customization, and modding. It is essentially telling players they can do anything they want, and make the game their own.

In other words, this section should be a highly detailed, lengthy summary of the game that gives players a clear idea of what it is they’re purchasing. It should also provide plenty of meaty information for the press to use as a resource.

Don’t be afraid to reuse this section’s contents in an official game website if you absolutely must. There is no negative that can come from it. However, it’s a nice presentation when you find that the game’s website features an entirely different overview section, much like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

 

Connecting All Game Links

An easily avoided mistake that many developers make is not connecting all social media pages, blogs, and websites related to their game. We live in a digital era, where everyone is connected, so we’re used to finding information easily.

For instance, Injustice 2 launched May 16, 2017, and their landing page is impeccable. All social media links are right on the top of the page, glowing in a way that reflects the game itself, while capturing players’ attentions. Because the game series is based on superheroes and has a huge following, they also added direct links to the Injustice comic books and DC store as well. Finally, their call to action is clear, placed right in the middle of the page: ”Buy now.”

Another well-designed landing page is that of The Surge, created by Deck13 Interactive. Social media links, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch, are all neatly displayed on the bottom of the landing page. Right above it, the call to action (“Get it now”) is displayed in the form of a red button. The entire page is dynamic and filled with valuable information, such as a game overview and a look at combat, which in turn leads up to the call-to-action as a gentle reminder to the readers. More so, the top of the page isn’t neglected either—a link to their official game store, provided on their own shop, is provided.

Making it easy for players to learn more about the game, engage with you and other players, and purchase your game is important. As a developer, you’re providing a product that should be easily researched and sold to the public.

 

Creating An Engaging Dev Blog

Of course, no game website is complete without a developer blog. Blogging is a smart, effective way to engage with the player base, oftentimes leading to a larger following, more feedback and sales.

A developer blog that does it right is Jeff Vogel’s “The Bottom Feeder.” When he’s not writing for games like the Exiled, he’s writing about games for publications like IGN and Grumpy Gamer. His blog contains lengthy articles on what it’s like being in the industry, the struggles faced, and valuable information such as how to become a developer. While your game studio’s blog won’t reflect a lot of this material, you can be inspired by it. Posting updates is one thing, but posting about struggles faced during development, informative pieces on creative direction, and how it all came together in your game is in an entirely different league. This helps players get an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at your game and encourages them to provide feedback, or follow your social media channels.

Obviously, if no one knows about the blog, no one will read it. For many developers, the solution is to occasionally link their blog posts to Steam or Discord channels. However, with a few other tools, blog readership can expand quicker. For instance, Leadpages allows bloggers to host webinars, creating opt-in boxes within blog posts, creating landing page opt-in forms, and yes, collecting email subscribers through text or web pages. This makes it possible to create newsletters, or alerts for when new blog content is posted.

As a game developer, you might not have time for lengthy blog post, but luckily, that’s not a major issue. Players won’t be reading to learn how to do something, they’ll be reading to get to know the studio, the team and the games. Focus on being approachable, and use smart tools that can help the process go smoother.

 

Regularly Updating the Players

Game websites and landing pages are valuable for the success of a game, as they help establish a tone and voice for the studio. They also facilitate community engagement, blogging success and game sales.

Creating a successful game website and landing page involves taking the time to create high-quality game images, descriptions, trailers and screenshots. All writing should be error-free and immersive, providing information that makes the game easily comprehended by the players. It should walk the line of a sales pitch, by describing the game in detail, and fictional story writing (what is it about, what is the overall objective).

Because this is very much a digital era, and everyone is used to being able to easily find information, it is wise to connect social media accounts, blogs, websites, and platforms like Steam. Players need to be able to read more, buy the game, engage with other players, connect with you, and be led to any merchandise you may be providing.

Finally, remember, blogging doesn’t have to be time consuming. Even one post per week can make a difference between minimal outreach and thoughtful community engagement. Adding a blog to your game website, which you can link to on a Steam page, along with any game updates, is critical.

Keeping players updates with any new patches, DLC details and announcements is vital to the overall success of your game. As the creators of the game, you absolutely need to take the stage anytime there’s an update. This is the only way journalists, YouTube streamers and players will know there’s something noteworthy to look into.

As such, using that blog on the game’s website is an obvious step. Use the rule of connecting everything to make the process easier on your readers, and link that blog post into Steam. It will not only drive traffic but also provide valuable information they need.

For instance, ConcernedApe’s Stardew Valley has an impressive update history. Their update announcements consist of lists of every single new item players can enjoy, short but details posts of what to expect in the future, and direct links to their blog posts. Rather than simply state there have been changes, or list them off with no further attempt to engage the audience, the ConcernedApe team treats each update as a call-to-action, which is “click this link for more information.”

Regularly updating players isn’t about just mentioning the changes. It’s about conveying the changes and the details that led up to them. It’s about expressing how player feedback influenced these choices, and leading them to blog posts filled with more information for them to enjoy.

 

Best Practices Put Your Best Face Forward

Game websites and landing pages are valuable for the success of a game, as they help establish a tone and voice for the studio. They also facilitate community engagement, blogging success and game sales.

Creating a successful game website and landing page involves taking the time to create high-quality game images, descriptions, trailers and screenshots. All writing should be error-free and immersive, providing information that makes the game easily comprehended by the players. It should walk the line of a sales pitch, by describing the game in detail, and fictional story writing (what is it about, what is the overall objective).

Because this is very much a digital era, and everyone is used to being able to easily find information, it is wise to connect social media accounts, blogs, websites, and platforms like Steam. Players need to be able to read more, buy the game, engage with other players, connect with you, and be led to any merchandise you may be providing.

Finally, remember, blogging doesn’t have to be time consuming. Even one post per week can make a difference between minimal outreach and thoughtful community engagement. Adding a blog to your game website, which you can link to on a Steam page, along with any game updates, is critical.


If you enjoyed reading this article, please don’t hesitate to retweet it! We love making new friends here at Black Shell Media, so don’t be a stranger.

 


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