Occasionally game developers ask about hosting a themed promotion on Steam, gathering up and promoting a set of games with a particular theme, style, setting, or genre. We're happy to consider supporting these kinds of sales, but how we handle it will depend on the scope and nature of the sale.
Frequently the conversation starts when a game developer comes to us with a relatively small set of games within a theme, often from other developers they know. It's possible to host a narrow scoped exclusive event like this, but we'd have a hard time promoting this event on the homepage of Steam.
In order for a themed sale to get visibility on the homepage of Steam, it would generally need to fit within these constraints:
- Players need to be able to understand what the scope of the sale is. This is both in how the event is described to players and in the selection of games included in the event. For example, if an event is presented as "City-Builder Sale" but only includes 5 city-building games, then players are going to be confused about where all the other city-builder games are and why it's only those 5 included.
- Broadly described events should be as inclusive as reasonably possible. If the theme of the event is as broad as "City-Builder Sale" then we should talk about how to invite all of the city-builder games on Steam to participate. But if your event is narrow in focus, then it likely makes the most sense for your team to reach out individually to games that you think make sense to participate in your event.
- Narrower events should be branded narrower. If the event will only include a subset of games in a category, then it might be better suited to framing the event as "Developer X and Friends" or some other way of making the connective elements between these games clear to players.
How to design a themed promotion
To give the best chances of your promotion being successful and catching our attention, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Plan ahead - Typically, we suggest starting your planning a minimum of three months ahead of time. Remember that games have a cooldown of 30 days between discounts, so it's important to give developers time to plan. Bigger collections of games may need even more lead time to coordinate all of the participants.
- Describe your whole plan - Are there other ways that you are considering spreading word of the event? Does the event coordinate with a holiday or some special event happening elsewhere? Describing a bigger picture of how your promotion would fit in with other activities helps us better understand the overall plan and how Steam could fit into that.
- Describe the event hook - Sure you make games in a certain style or theme, but what are the notable titles that players have heard of and would make for a compelling hook? How does your event set itself apart from other similar events, in terms of design or special features for customers? Are the participating game developers interested in putting their games on discount? Are there interesting upcoming games that are also included?
When you are thinking about putting together a themed sale, here are the main points for you to know and agree to:
- The hosting of your event, use of sale page editor tools, and any promotion on Steam is all at the discretion of Valve
- Your landing page should clearly explain both the event and the group that is organizing it.
- In addition, any promotional banners used on Steam (including Store Page Banners) must also clearly describe the name of the event and who is hosting/organizing the event.
- Unless specifically agreed upon with Valve, we cannot promise any specific Steam store visibility for the event. Marketing efforts would be 100% up to you and the individual game developers involved. In some cases, we choose to help promote events, but we usually can't make that call until we know which games you'll have participating, the scope of the event, and any accompanying promotion or activities.
- If Valve chooses to promote your page within the Steam store:
- Broadcasting - We need to approve what broadcasting content will be shown. This is generally fine for industry talks or game announcement, but since we don't sell ad space on Steam, we want to be aware (as well as approve) of any kind of sponsorship logos or possibly ads for other brands or stores prior to the launch of the event.
- All graphical banners and images need to be provided to Valve as layered .psd files at least a week ahead of time for localization.
- Product page banner - this banner shows up on store pages of the apps that are included in the event and provides a bit of cross promotion value.
- You can only make use of Store Page Banners if the creators of every single game included on your sale page are aware and approve of such a banner. In other words, it should not be a surprise to any developer that your banner appears on the top of their game's store page.
- The only acceptable sponsor logos that can appear on Store Page Banners are for naming/title sponsors of the event itself. If the name you commonly use for your event elsewhere includes a sponsor name, then that is okay to include on the Store Page Banners (eg. "Indie Game Fest Presented By BrandX" or "BrandX's Indie Game Fest" are okay).
- When it comes to participants:
- You may only add games to the sale page for which you have received permission by the developer or publisher.
- If your sale is presented as a general event about a broad theme of games, the event should be open to any game with the described theme, style, setting, or genre. Valve may modify your landing page to include additional games from devs that request participation, though in most cases we'll be communicating with you about those kinds of changes.
- It's fine to tell participants that your event will have a landing page on Steam, but you should not promise a specific level of visibility within your page or within Steam.
- You cannot charge participants to be featured on the sale page.
Access to the sale-building tools
Once we've agreed that your proposed event makes sense to run on Steam, we can grant you access to the sale page editor tools. These tools allow you to define the list of participating games, create sub-categories for organizing them (if appropriate) and uploading your custom artwork for the background of the page and associated marketing banners.
Here you can find a description of the editing tools
And the bare minimum assets needed
for a sale page:
If we agree on setting up a sale landing page, it doesn't necessarily mean that we'll be able to feature your event on the homepage of Steam.
Creating A New Sale Page
- Create a Steam Community group with the name of your organization or event
- Let your Valve contact know the URL of your group. Valve will enable the sale tools for an event under your group.
Generally for organized events, any of the participating games also like to run a discount while they’re getting promoted. We don’t require this, and if some of the games in your event opt to stay full price that’s fine by us, but in our experience most games choose to capitalize on the extra exposure with a discount.
Remember that games have a cooldown of 30 days between discounts, so it's important to give developers time to plan.
Rather than have dozens of studios submitting their own custom discounts, Steam can set up one discount event and set it to appear to the participating games and studios. That way, they can add in discounts for this sale via the discounting dashboard just as they would other big sale events like the Steam Summer Sale and be sure the start and end dates will all line up properly.
To do that, we’ll need you to send over a spreadsheet with the the appIDs of each participating game. Please provide this in a spreadsheet with one row per game once you have your participation list finalized. You probably want finalize your participant list at least two months in advance to make sure your participants are able to plan their discount strategy around your event timing.
Not every themed event can be featured in a big way on the homepage of Steam. Some really notable themes with a lot of well-known releases can work well in a spot as a Weekend Deal. Some smaller themes with a few well-known titles can get featured as a Daily Deal. Some other themes just don't have a lineup that is compelling enough for us to justify featuring it to the entire platform of customers.
Before we can commit to promoting a themed sale event in a particular way, we would want a pretty clear picture of which games are participating and will be on discount.
Special Offers Page
All sale events will automatically appear listed in the "Special Events" section of the Special Offers page
for players looking for good deals on games.
Steam is already built to take advantage of the network effects of running such a sale: When you put together your sale page and include games that have agreed to participate, you can set up a "store page banner" which will appear on each of the participating games’ store pages. When your participating games kick of their own discounts, players can easily find their way from individual games back to your main event page to find all of the related games.
Publishing your landing page
Before you publish your landing page to make it visible to players, you'll need to make sure it has been reviewed and approve by your contact at Valve. Please give us at least 7 days to offer feedback or request changes.
We may also opt to help translate the page into more languages if we are interested in promoting the event broadly on Steam. In that case, we'd need your layered design files as well as any custom fonts you have used in your artwork designs.
Ready to get started?
If all of this sounds interesting to you, you can start the process by following this URL and filling out the questions: https://help.steampowered.com/en/wizard/HelpWithPublishing?issueid=938