Ok so I’ll keep this relatively short because I’m not particularly fond of writing, I have a short attention span, and I can’t stand long-winded blogs. Back in March, when COVID-19 resulted in stay-at-home orders in the United States, two friends and I decided to utilize our newfound time at home to do something fun, creative, and challenging - we decided to make a video game.
Since we are all big fans of the social deduction genre, and foresaw a significant amount of time spent online in the immediate future, we opted to create a Hidden Identity, “Jackbox-esque” party game which can be played online with friends. Since then, we have actually made a great deal of progress on the game but, despite all the blogs/advice/recommendations you’ll find online, we consistently prioritized game development and design over marketing. To remedy this, we created a kickass game trailer, had a steam store page we were proud of, and slowly but surely started posting on our social accounts. Since launching our Steam Store Page almost two months ago, we have accrued nearly 500 Wishlist Additions - with an average of around 62 per week. Not great, but we know there’s a lot more work to do. Since our game is developing nicely and we are getting closer and closer to launch, I began looking for other, quicker ways to promote our game to a larger audience, which brought me to Fiverr.
I stumbled across a deal on Fiverr called, “I will promote your steam game on my 200k users website”. The seller was a “Level 1” seller with 20+ reviews and a 4.5+ star rating so I figured it was worth the $10 I spent to try it out. I thought the worst that could happen was that a few days would pass and I’d have $10 less with little-to-no change in my game’s wishlists. Sigh.. if only...
Instead, the seller did show my game to an audience who wishlisted our game, and subsequently deleted us from their wishlist immediately after. Since our Steam store page was published, our game had only 12 Wishlist Deletions. During this 2-day “promotion” our Wishlist deletions jumped up to 201. As I mentioned earlier, we were averaging between 50-70 Wishlist Additions per week before the promo, but this past week we had 198 (though 189 deleted their wishlist soon thereafter), resulting in a net gain of 9. This is the part that scares me the most.
Now I’m not entirely sure how Steam determines which games they should and should not promote, but I can’t imagine their algorithms look too favorably on games with a significant amount of Wishlist Deletions. Granted, 189 wishlist deletions may not necessarily be enough for Steam to stop promoting our game entirely, but who knows? Given that we only had around 500 wishlists before the promotion even started, that means we’ve had nearly 27% (189 / 689) of our wishlists got deleted. Even if our weekly Wishlist Additions bounce back (which I’m optimistic they will - fingers crossed), it’s still hugely disappointing, and disheartening, to see such a huge spike in our Wishlist Deletions all of a sudden. It just plain sucks. I realize this is no one's fault by my own. I'm annoyed, embarrassed, but I figured if nothing else - maybe by writing this post I can help prevent someone else from making a similar, dumb mistake.
So the moral of the story is this, please do your due diligence before paying anyone - even if it’s a small amount. Avoid taking any ‘shortcuts’ in game promotions because it can have some unforeseen circumstances. And lastly, Steam promotions on Fiverr probably aren’t the best way to advertise your game - stick with the tried and true methods everyone posts about all the time (dev vlogs, social media, etc.).
TLDR: While promises of inexpensive promotions to large audiences on Fiverr may seem alluring, don’t take the bait. I thought the worst case scenario was simply spending money for a promo that didn’t amount to anything, but the reality was worse as the promotion resulted in a huge number of wishlist deletions. It also seems to have a negative effect on the amount of traffic our Steam Page is getting since the promo so please don’t make the same mistake we did. :(