My little first person shooting game, Deadweight, was greenlit on Steam on June 25 after I submitted on June 10. I put my submission together in about 2-3 days. It was a mad dash.
The reason for the rush? I wanted to get a few days ahead of E3. I figured people’s heads would be spinning so fast from all the eye candy and exciting news coming from E3 that scarcely anyone would bother paying notice to some games sitting in Greenlight. I think that assumption wasn’t entirely correct, though. The day after I submitted, Steam Summer Sales kicked in and probably brought on more traffic to Steam than usual and thus more eyes on Greenlight games in general.
The truth is, the internet and the world has more bandwidth to process lots of games than I expected. E3 wasn’t the attention hording black hole that I thought it was. Over 17,000 unique visitors looked at my Greenlight page and over 7000 of them voted ‘yes.’ So I’m glad things turned out the way it did. I think the timing was good overall, and submitting it a few days earlier or later wouldn’t have made much of a difference. It did mean that I hit the submit button before I felt my page was completely perfect.
In fact, at the beginning the ratio between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes wasn’t looking too hot. It was about 51% yes and 49% no. Yikes. I looked at the comments written in and I saw why. People called out the lack of content indicated by the trailer and description. Guilty as charged. Partly inspired by “mini games” like Five Nights at Freddy’s, I thought that I, too, could get away with putting out a tiny game with very little content and still offer a compelling product as long as I priced it commensurately cheap.
Not. The. Case. The people visiting my Greenlight page the first few hours were not having it. But rather than panicking, their complaint was rather a relief. The only reason I restricted the scope of my game so tightly was because I was afraid of wasting time on a game that not many people would be interested in. I wanted to make a tiny game, ship it as quickly as possible, and use the modest revenue to make a bigger and better game. Baby steps, I thought. But the comments criticizing the tiny scope of my game actually gave me the confidence to expand it significantly.
It wasn’t for a lack of ideas. I had tons. Now I had a valid reason to pursue them and put them all in the game for a meatier, more substantial experience. I knew what I had to do. It was time go big or get the fuck out. I put up an announcement on the Greenlight page in addition to updating the game description to reflect my decision to pivot and make the game bigger and better with way more variety than I was presenting in the trailer.
That’s when the needle turned and the ratio between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes suddenly turned in my favor. It eventually hit 60% ‘yes’ votes over the course of the next few days! And the comments coming in were positive, enthusiastic, and very supportive. You can imagine how that felt after months of working alone in the dark with hardly any feedback. The month prior I put my game in front of a few friends and watched them play. That was pretty exciting, but going through Steam Greenlight was something else. The whole world chimed in on something with my stamp all over it. Literally. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to copy and paste comments into Google Translate.
Just a day over 2 weeks since I submitted, I got the email from Valve that my game got greenlit. In the days prior I knew it was only a matter of time. So what came next?
In the afterglow of the Greenlight campaign – and I think it’s unfair to call it a campaign because I mostly sat back and waited, replying to a few comments here and there, while the rest took care of itself – I suddenly had the balls to do something I never considered doing until just a few days ago. To do a Kickstarter! Not to fund the game development directly but simply to handle some ancillary aspects of the game that I’m better off recruiting help for; music and voicework. I’m putting the finishing touches right now and I’ll be submitting probably the next day as of this writing.