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July 22, 2019
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An IKEA guide to STEAM product page that simply works.

by Patryk Grzeszczuk on 12/11/18 10:02:00 am   Featured Blogs

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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.

 

The role of your game’s store page varies depending on the stage of your marketing campaign you are in at the moment. While at early stages it mainly serves the purpose of building the awareness of your title and its discoverability, soon enough it will help you with creating the community and finally generating sales.

So, regardless of whether you are just starting to promote your game, getting ready for the big launch, or already managing a product that exists on the market — the role of the product page cannot be overestimated.

While the overall structure and the range of presented content are primarily imposed by the layout and tools offered by the platform, as creator, you have a bit of space for improvements to get from generic product presentation space to efficient marketing tool.

Your game page is where your potential customer will decide if your game is worth spending money on, or not. What is important though, is that at the moment of this decision, ones actual knowledge about your game can vary, depending on where he came from and what initially brought him here.

Some of your visitors will come intentionally after reading a preview or review, watching a stream or maybe due to a recommendation form a friend. Many of them will visit just because they have clicked on a thumbnail while browsing through Steam or 'misclicked' on one of your display banners. The sources of traffic may significantly vary.

No matter the intention and the initial awareness of your visitor, one should be able to make a conscious, well-educated purchase decision based solely on your product page content.

So, here are a few things that while sometimes basic, turned out to be surprisingly crucial regarding the overall efficiency of the games’ product pages. At least from my experience as both the customer and the marketer.

1. GAME’S DESCRIPTION

When it comes to your on-page copy — treat it as a perfect pitch of yours. As if you were an up and coming movie star trying to convince Hollywood fat-shark to put money into your dream project. He does not want to listen. He is too busy, feels too important and way too deep into enjoying his expensive Cuban cigar to be bothered. To win his heart then, your description has to be correctly formatted and divided into short, clear blocks to improve its overall readability and decrease the threshold.

Also, it is good to edit it ‘top-down’, starting with the absolutely crucial information: main premise or essential elevator pitch, followed by a short list of key features just to end up with all the supplementary, but still valuable information.

Working on your game’s description, ask yourself:

  • What impression would one get after reading the first paragraph only? Some of them won’t do anything else. 
  • What will learn ones that got distracted in the middle of your description? That is going to be a significant part of your community. 
  • What about the ones gliding through the headlines only

These are simple, yet essential questions, worth answering while working on your final copy. A well-crafted, hierarchic structure of your description can get you surprisingly far.

Well-designed visual headlines and mid-text separators help as well. The same goes for the visual representations of key features. Remember that while some users will read provided text thoroughly, many more will watch well-animated GIF, explaining the gameplay and nicely underlining your game’s looks or important features.

Speaking of peoples’ soft spot for nice looking things, let’s proceed to…

2. SCREENSHOTS

You may think that putting few well-looking in-game captures is all that is needed, but the truth is that there is more to the subject that one would think.

Of course, the quality matters and using anything less than the best you’ve got wouldn't make much sense. No less critical though is the story told by each of your assets. Think of them as a narrative tool.

  • If one was to see only one picture from your gallery, what would one learn about your game?
  • Do your screenshots sell your game well, on their own? 
  • Do they present the moment to moment experience or hint on your key features? They should.

It takes a bit of back and forth, but once you finally have your carefully selected pack of assets — it becomes a valuable marketing tool, efficiently pitching your game.

As with the description, the order also matters. Not all users will browse through the whole gallery, so try to keep the best and most important screenshots at the front by default.

3. TESTIMONIALS & AWARDS

Vox populi, vox Dei’ — now more than ever. Due to that, testimonials work well, adding to your credibility and prestige. If you have good quotes by well known ‘influencers’ or leading media outlets — use them. Lacking any of these, turn your head towards valid opinions from your regular backers, current gamers, members of your community, you name it.

Whichever option you choose, feature them high on your page so they would be visible at first glance. This is how they work best. Same goes for the awards and review scores by influential media outlets. The more you have them, the better for you. Unless you’re promoting ‘The Witcher,’ then try to pick few most important trophies from the never-ending list.

4. THUMBNAILS & CAPSULES

Proper miniatures should not only look good but also be as informative as possible.

Their primary role is to serve as a ‘healthy’ clickbait, but they also sell the premise of the game. At least they should. You don’t need 'misclicks'. Luring people with no potential interested in your game won’t get you far. What you need is the attention of gamers with at least a spark of sympathy for the genre, type, or any other important aspect of your title.

What is also worth noting, it is good to change your thumbnails/capsules once you introduce a major update to your game or conduct a significant marketing push or promo. They can effectively serve as one of your communication channels about what is happening with your product, for the price of a few of your work hours. Worth it!

5. KEEPING UP TO DATE

Visiting your product page one expects to learn about what your game is, but also what your game plans to become in the future. Players expect your game to evolve, getting richer in content with time, ‘early access’ or not.

Once you’ve got your support plan laid out, feature it on the game page or at least keep it pinned in your community section so it would be easy to find. Let people know that buying your game means a ton of fun now, but also a bit of fun in the future. The form your announcement will take is up to you. We usually try to keep it clear yet entertaining and ALWAYS in line with the game’s identity

 

6. MULTIMEDIA AND NONSTANDARD SOLUTIONS

As everything moves forward, platforms try to keep up introducing new tools and solutions aiming at building your visibility and enriching the way you can interact with your community. A range of solutions is still pretty limited, but it gets better. It’s good to keep an eye on what is at hand and play with it.

One of the latest worth-noting functionalities on STEAM is stream embed. It allows you to put your Twitch feed directly on your product page. It works well and not only makes your page more appealing but also gives you a chance of appearing on the homepage (a holy grail of sort!) as streaming pages are being promoted from time to time.

7. TAGS

We all know how tags generally work, grouping elements across the structure and increasing their discoverability. In this particular case, the important part is choosing a proper set of keywords, not to get overburden by competition but also not to narrow our game’s presence too much. While there is no golden rule for creating a perfect set, what we usually aim for is a mix of two groups:

  • affiliation-builders: tags that link your game to genres, categories or trends that are popular, in-demand but also true to the nature of your game
  • USP-boosters: tags that while usually less popular nicely underline your title’s USP and put it as a leader of specific niches and emerging micro-trends

Also, it is critical to have both ‘groups’ at least partially visible on your tag list without the necessity of clicking the ‘more’ button.

8. CURATORS

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of games available and being released every single day on Steam. That is true for both publishers but also gamers looking for new, exciting titles to play. Steam curators help both groups by building additional visibility for chosen games.

Publishing a game on Steam one can gain the most, not necessarily being covered by the most prominent and most popular curators (which is always nice) but also by curators with a highly defined profile (and with that, followed by a tailored audience). A smaller scale of the community, in these cases, is actively compensated by the way its expectations align with what one’s game has to offer.

Look for these curators, get in touch, sell yourself effectively.

9. LOCALIZATION

For many communities localized product page (not to mention the game itself) is an essential factor, heavily influencing attitude, behavior and finally purchase intent. Try to cover at least key languages to lower the entry threshold for your page and broaden up your potential audience.

As for these key languages*, aim for:

  • tier 1: English, German, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian
  • tier 2: Polish, Portuguese, Japanese, Turkish

*depending on your country of origin and its specificity, probably your first language should land in the 'tier 1' group. People tend to support their local creators but also can get quickly frustrated if the support is not mutual.

10. TRAFFIC

Last but not least, you should build the traffic to your product page. A direct one. You do not want to lose your customers along the way. Also, its good to know where your customers come from so you could optimize your spendings and boost the traffic where it’s needed. Performance marketing or its variation that is only possible in case of Steam (no proper conversion ratio measurement, sorry!) is a separate subject as a whole, and I am going to cover it in a dedicated post in the nearest future. For now, just remember that the best product page won’t bring you a thing as long as there are no customers to admire it.

TO SUM THINGS UP

It’s like with IKEA products. What you get is a box of simple elements, but when you put them together, they will serve you surprisingly well, especially considering their cost and relatively simple assembly process.

And sure, with time, you’re gonna have to exchange them for something better, but we all know that nothing lasts forever. For the time, though, what you get is a useful marketing tool that can be very helpful regarding both the communication and monetization of your game.


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