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What Alexis Kennedy Learned from Launching Cultist Simulator

Personal_Finance / Gaming Feb 19, 2020 - 03:59 PM GMT

By: Sumeet_Manhas

Personal_Finance

Alexis Kennedy’s Cultist Simulator launched on May 31, 2018 to love-it-or-hate-it reviews and sales of 50,000 copies within the first month. After the launch, Alexis and his business partner Lottie Bevan started to see retaining the momentum for the game as their biggest challenge, with bumps in sales predominantly coming from price markdowns, occasional releases of new content and newfound attention from either streamers playing the game or events on Steam.

Data from the game’s release showed that most of the traffic and attention for the game came from Steam’s home page, “Friend is in game” notifications, and recommendations yielding over 100M impressions over the game’s lifetime.


From this data, the Weather Factory team were able to conclude that Steam’s ‘Top Sellers’ and ‘New and Trending’ lists generated most of the impressions that led people to Cultist Simulator, and also showed them that sales and price cuts are hugely influential when it comes to getting consumers to purchase games on the Steam platform.

The “in-game” notifications, however, worked differently - they function similarly to word of mouth advertising from a person the player trusts, and for many consumers, seeing that their friends are frequently playing a game makes it far more likely that they will in turn purchase, download, and play it themselves. This also goes for recommendations - in fact, Lottie and Alexis highly recommend that developers do everything they can to get their games on as many different subsections of this feed, as there are opportunities to appear in tags, on wish lists, player reviews and playtime counts.

In looking at the overall number of visits to the Cultist Simulator page on Steam, the data reaffirms a key lesson: by having good tags, you can appear in suggested searches, as well as in sections such as “More Like This,” “Similar Recent Apps,” and “Bundle Contents Preview,” to name just a few.

When assessing Cultist Simulator’s Genre page on Steam, they saw the highest clickthrough and conversion rate, which makes sense: like-minded consumers are browsing for games like this one, then see it, piquing their interest and potentially leading to a sale. In addition to this, Lottie and Alexis also noted that price reductions have a huge impact on sales here as well.

The Community Hub, another section of Steam, is full of people who have already purchased the game, are extremely close to doing so or are interested in purchasing DLC or expanded material. The data Weather Factory looked through demonstrated an interest in video content, of which they didn’t release a lot, and this could be also be a major opportunity to up sales in the future.

Another feature that came up in the breakdown of data was microtrailers; 6-second, automatically generated previews of gameplay. These proved to be extremely effective at getting people to visit the Store page, as they are built with the sole goal of quickly connecting people to games that they are likely to enjoy but haven’t heard of.

In an analysis of the search data associated with the title, they discovered that massive numbers of non-owners of the game are searching for it - in fact, over 85% of people searching for Cultist Simulator in a 6+ month window were not owners of the game, and this is obviously a massive opportunity. Lottie and Alexis see many different ways to up conversions and sales, and named just a handful of them: price reductions, a better online store page, more marketing off the Steam platform, or international localisation, if needed, to connect with curious players.

Lottie and Alexis also discussed Visibility Rounds - a Steam feature that allows you to feature major updates on Steam’s front page. Each Round lasts 30 days, pushes to interested consumers, and are limited to five per title at first with the ability to earn more. The data revealed that while views for each Visibility Round went up, clickthrough rates dropped, which made sense, as these updates became increasingly niche by way of new localisations and DLC releases. That said, the Chinese localisation gave the game a massive boost.

From all of this, the team concluded many things, several straightforward takeaways and others more surprising. It was clear that a Chinese localisation was a huge boost to sales, as was being on the front page of Steam. However, they were surprised to learn that genre and tag pages are a huge opportunity to get impressions, that “friend is in-game” notifications have the power to use your players as a means to market the game very effectively without marketing spend, getting a “recommended” slot on Steam is hugely valuable, and that microtrailers are very worth thinking about. Additionally, the Visibility Rounds provided by the platform can be used to easily tell what you’re doing right and where you’re losing your audience.

All of this also demonstrated that Steam can help - but won’t solely - sell a game. By using it effectively, it is a massive opportunity to reach people but fine-tuned, razor sharp marketing is the key to successful sales. There are always more people to reach and almost no indie has connected with everyone who might love it, so being resourceful and thinking intelligently about your marketing is an absolute must.

Learn more about Alexis Kennedy by visiting his personal website or read more updates on Medium.

By Sumeet Manhas

© 2020 Copyright Sumeet Manhas - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


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