When is the best time to announce a game on Steam? Indie developer Aaron San Filippo has tried to answer this question and explain why presenting your project to the public too early might be a bad idea.

Whisker Squadron

San Filippo, a developer with over 16 years of experience in the industry, is the co-founder of indie studio Flippfly, known for its hit game Race The Sun and upcoming aerial roguelike Whisker Squadron. His original thread was published on January 20 and was recently spotted by GameDiscoverCo founder Simon Carless.

While Aaron San Filippo agrees that the longer the game’s page on Steam is up the better, he says that “it’s almost never a good idea to announce a game and put up a page for a game that looks unpolished.”

Cons of announcing an unpolished game

  • Although Steam’s algorithm doesn’t punish games that did poorly at launch, it rewards titles that can generate hype and traffic at any given time.
  • It is crucial to gain players / press attention and impress them at first sight, so a game won’t be ignored after the announcement due to its bad visuals and unpolished state.
  • A game should look great, so users won’t ignore it in their queues. Steam gives devs free organic traffic, so the main goal is to convert as many users as possible.
  • Preparing a game for release is a marathon, so it is a bad idea to get demoralized by the small number of wishlists after launching a Steam page.

San Filippo noted that developers should invest in their game’s presentation early in development. 

No More Robots head Mike Rose also added a few points, saying that the older wishlists are the worse they convert into sales on average. He also said that publishers sometimes don’t want to work with games that already have a Steam page.

So Aaron San Filippo thinks that the best time to launch a Steam page is a few months before the release date. Ideally, the game should have polished key art, good-looking screenshots, and a great trailer. “Releasing an arrow before you’ve drawn it all the way back won’t make it go further,” he concluded.