How to get nearly 250k Steam wishlists, The Riftbreaker way

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[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter, which you can subscribe to now, is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

Welcome again to the newly rechristened GameDiscoverCo e-newsletter! This time round, I had an opportunity to speak to Pawel Lekki of EXOR Studios, the veteran Steam dev that’s additionally put out titles like Zombie Driving force HD and X-Morph: Protection. We in particular mentioned his upcoming sport The Rift Breaker, which has collected just about 250,000 pre-release wishlists on Steam thus far, an overly spectacular tally.

Traditionally, his studio’s titles haven’t, in all probability, been the type to get artsy indie kudos. However they’ve been slightly a success with the core Steam target market – sufficient so that you can stay Pawel’s studio primarily based in Poland ticking over simply high quality.

And it seems like with The Riftbreaker, which is an intriguing mixture of genres subsidized by way of a constant promotional system, EXOR is taking issues to any other degree. So I assumed I’d quiz Pawel on how he did it (up to now – the sport releases later this yr, and he’s positive to be fair concerning the post-launch effects!):

Q: Let us know somewhat bit about The Riftbreaker and why you assume it could be status out available in the market? (Is it lovers of your earlier titles, does it have a novel proposition, and so on?)

The Riftbreaker is a mix of more than one sport genres – motion RPG, hack & slash, base construction, survival, exploration, useful resource control, and tower protection. Our lovers describe the sport as an intense mashup of Starcraft, They Are Billions and Diablo.

The Riftbreaker is constructed the usage of our proprietary sport engine – The Schmetterling. It lets in us to ship swarms of hundreds of enemies, large sprawling bases with loads of defensive towers, in addition to very actual and responsive direct hand-to-hand melee battle.

I feel that the present era of players is on the lookout for video games with very extensive chance areas. If you happen to check out Fortnite, there’s actual battle, some base construction, and numerous customization. Considered one of our number one design targets with The Riftbreaker is to let avid gamers do numerous amusing stuff within the sport. I feel that constraining video games to singular genres is old-fashioned.

Q: From preliminary release of Steam web page to the release of the Prologue, was once the sport already monitoring smartly – and if this is the case, are you able to determine belongings you did to lend a hand that?

We introduced the sport on March eighth, 2019 with a CG teaser trailer that we revealed at the PlayStation Weblog, Xbox Twine, and despatched out to standard press retailers. The trailer was once smartly won and the preliminary reception was once actually just right.

An afternoon later we had a Day-to-day Deal on Steam that pointed to a customized Steam Curator record that featured all of our video games, together with The Riftbreaker. We gathered ~8k wishlists within the first month after saying. We had been more than pleased with that end result as we when compared it to our earlier sport – X-Morph: Protection – which had 10.5k wishlists on release after 9 months of promoting. 

The result of the primary 2 months of promoting The Riftbreaker.

We persisted supporting the selling effort by way of taking part in business presentations (PAX East, GDC, E3, Gamescom, PAX West), consistent social media presence (a minimum of 2 updates a week, plus focused on Imgur) and interactive gameplay streaming (thru Twitch and Mixer extensions). Our advertising and marketing purpose from the beginning was once to continuously launch smaller updates concerning the sport, intertwined with greater information. 

One of the vital necessary advertising and marketing pillars was once sharing the sport with streamers and YouTubers. Industry presentations didn’t translate immediately to wishlists, however they helped us in setting up contacts with numerous influencers that experience performed an early construct of the sport all through those occasions. We despatched out the primary preview construct on November 14th to a small staff of people who we’ve met immediately all through those occasions.

The preliminary movies concerning the Riftbreaker had been very sure and helped us accumulate further 12okay wishlists over the following 2 weeks. Through the top of 2019, we had gathered 50Ok wishlists, our preliminary purpose for the sport’s release.

[SIMON’S NOTE: obviously, wishlist quality can vary. But partly what I take away from this great 2019 start is that Exor had a naturally attractive game to ‘core’ players, and were trying all kinds of different things to bump the numbers aggressively. And it worked.]

In fact, we didn’t prevent there. In 2019, press protection led to minimum wishlist positive aspects, however in 2020 we in spite of everything were given some sure effects. As much as March 2020, we didn’t actually have a gameplay trailer. After we in spite of everything had it in a position, we made up our minds to launch it thru PC Gamer as a 24 hour unique.

It grew to become out to be an excellent transfer, as we won numerous top quality site visitors immediately from the web site, in addition to from different persist with up articles. Some other press protection marvel was once a sparkling Eurogamer preview that got here as a follow-up article to our presence within the Virtual Dragons Indie Exhibit.

As soon as once more, participation in that display didn’t supply direct day by day effects, however the publicity that adopted after greater than made up for that. All of the ones movements helped us to amass a complete of 95okay wishlists as much as June 15th, 2020 – the day prior to the Steam Summer time Competition.

The Riftbreaker’s wishlists graph from January 1st 2020 to August 14th 2020.

The Steam Summer time Competition featured upcoming video games according to the choice of wishlists that they’d already gathered and that is when our grassroots advertising and marketing efforts have actually paid off. To be able to take part within the match, we needed to get ready a playable demo of The Riftbreaker.

We created a tailored enjoy, spending about 2 months on sharpening the vertical slice demo. After all, The Riftbreaker was once one of the vital well-liked video games all through the pageant, and we gathered further 42okay wishlists because of the development.

The demo’s reception was once very sure, but it surely was once to be had best all through the Competition. The effects that we completed motivated us to launch a standalone sport prologue which would come with further sport lore and tale build-up for the whole sport.

We made up our minds to spend an extra six weeks on sharpening the demo to the factors of a typical sport release. We additionally translated the entire in-game textual content into 10 languages. The day prior to we launched the prologue on Steam, we had gathered over 146okay wishlists, and The Riftbreaker was once within the most sensible 50 maximum wishlisted video games on Steam.

Q: Provide an explanation for your making plans across the release of the Prologue along a Day-to-day Deal – how had been you ready to set that up and what impact did it have?

We introduced The Riftbreaker Prologue on August fifth at 22:00 CEST with none particular announcement on our channels and with out prior advertising and marketing of any sort. On the similar time our companions in China (Surefire Video games) began a advertising and marketing marketing campaign in mainland China of their native social and media channels.

On August sixth we introduced a customized constructed EXOR Studios Developer Sale as a Day-to-day Deal, with 24 hour entrance web page that includes on Steam. All the sale can be set to run for 14 days. On the similar time, we additionally up to date and enabled The Riftbreaker Demo as a part of the primary Steam web page. Each the Prologue and the Demo at the moment are similar.

Since August fifth, The Riftbreaker Prologue was once downloaded round 180,000 occasions. Different notable milestones:

– The Riftbreaker Demo was once downloaded 115,000 occasions (EXOR Sale 20okay + Summer time Competition 50okay + by means of an AMD e-newsletter 13okay occasions + 23okay natural downloads)
– In overall, over 295,000 peaople have downloaded the Riftbreaker Prologue enjoy
– The Riftbreaker Prologue has an Overwhelmingly Certain score with 95% sure evaluations.
– Throughout the hot EXOR Developer Sale, we won 56,000 wishlists for The Riftbreaker, with a complete of ~235,000 wishlists as of September 21st, 2020.
– The Riftbreaker: Prologue won 18okay wishlists and ~7,900 fans in its personal proper
– Earnings throughout our present merchandise all through the EXOR Developer Sale was once 30% upper than for our earlier Day-to-day Deal, which was once on December 4th 2019. 
– The publicity that we won on Steam additionally drew numerous exterior site visitors like this Twitch movement by way of Lirik (2.6 million fans on Twitch).

Q: After this all came about, what ‘base price’ of wishlists did the sport settle again onto, and was once it greater than prior to? Do you assume that is right down to Steam visibility, extra other folks seeing the demo by means of streamers, or each?

To be fair, it’s laborious to pinpoint a base price for wishlists after this match as a result of we’ve been operating a wide variety of promotions since then. However as of September 21st it appears to be like love it’s settling at ~400 wishlists in step with day, vs ~80 wishlists in step with day prior to The Prologue.

We’ve had some visibility spikes when The Riftbreaker was once coated by way of a big Chinese language influencer on Bilibili, or all through Gamescom. There’s additionally been numerous further exterior natural site visitors this is laborious to pinpoint. It seems like numerous persons are merely speaking concerning the sport to their pals, plus there’s larger natural site visitors from Steam.

[SIMON’S NOTE: I think a real sign that a game may do well isn’t just ‘do you get a spike from a feature/demo?’, it’s your natural daily wishlist rate when not much is happening. And both those before and after numbers are pretty good on that front!]

Wishlist graph for The Riftbreaker after the discharge of the Prologue.

Q: You appear to have an overly co-ordinated and multi-channel solution to sport promotion. Are you able to discuss what number of group of workers you employ to try this, do you do just the whole lot, do you ever attempt to prioritize?

For the reason that starting of the undertaking, we have now a complete time Group Supervisor (Piotr Bomak), who creates common advancement updates and posts them on all of our social media channels.

We additionally run common advancement construct streams (instantly from the advance trunk) two occasions a week. We commit time from the advance workforce to create probably the most ‘in-development’ content material – e.g. Piotr sits down with a programmer for a couple of hours to seize some cool screenshots. Along with myself and my brother, there are a minimum of 2 individuals from our 14 sturdy advancement workforce immediately running on advertising and marketing at all times.

From the start of the undertaking, we additionally paintings with exterior corporations – specifically PR Outreach. Agnieszka Szóstak’s workforce looks after all of our press releases and handles lots of the touch with conventional media and influencers. For the reason that launch of The Prologue, we’ve additionally got to work with SureFire Video games for PR and influencer outreach in China.

Q: What are your hopes/plans for release and how much wishlist to gross sales price are you aiming for?

Our earlier sport, X-Morph: Protection had 10,500 wishlists at Steam release with an zero.7 wishlists-to-sales conversion price within the first week. For The Riftbreaker, our preliminary purpose for the release of the sport was once to succeed in 50Ok wishlists with an zero.four wishlists-to-sales conversion price for the primary week.

We’ve already surpassed our preliminary Steam wishlists purpose virtually fivefold, and it seems like we might do even higher than that. The general conversion price is after all unknown, but it surely seems like we must be high quality.

[SIMON’S NOTE: thanks to Pawel for being so transparent with his numbers and progress so far, and good luck on the launch. I know some of this might feel like ‘game lots of people like gets lots of wishlists’, but I think there’s some learnings in here – Imgur posts, good Chinese outreach, being relentless & wide with promotions – that are worthwhile to all!]

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