I guess this is technically old news but I released two of my mobile games on Steam a few weeks ago. It was much harder than I expected to port the games to desktop. I actually didn’t intend to do it at all. I was just trying to update the branding from Coolcodez to Cold & Old and I ended up giving myself tons of work to do.
The code I wrote for both games was messy and hard to modify and Corona SDK didn’t help much either. You can definitely tell that allowing their developers to create desktop games is an afterthought for them. Even mapping keyboard/gamepad input to menu buttons was very tedious and I created tons of spaghetti code just trying to get that to work.
I also spent time updating some of my uglier pixel art. Mega Hasan was my first experience drawing pixel art and you can definitely tell that I improved in the later levels of the game. I still don’t consider myself a real artist but I think I’ve at least grown a bit.
Some things I didn't expect releasing my games to steam
I expected the process of releasing my games to steam to take about 4-5 days since all the development was already done. These were mobile games that I just needed to port over. Instead it took me about five weeks. Here’s some stuff I learned.
- There’s a learning process involved in deploying your game. Depots, branches, environment stuff. It’s really confusing. You might even have to do some scripting to deploy a simple game. Not to mention the horrible support for Mac. It took me a while to understand wtf was going on.
- I thought the steam overlay included a leaderboard or something. It doesn’t. I had to create interfaces for an in-game leaderboard. The app store and google play store give you access to a built in leaderboard.
- They require a lot of assets. I had to spend a lot of time making some custom art in all kinds of different sizes. It does pay off though. Your game is presented in a really cool way on their store.
- It doesn’t get as buried as you’d expect! When I released these games on the app store they got buried immediately. Nobody could really find them. On iOS Mega Hasan has roughly 10k players in the last few years. On steam it has about 3.5k in only a couple weeks.
- People expect to pay money for games on steam. If you’re producing a game for mobile the expected price is free. If you charge even a dollar you cut your user base by about 90%. That’s why I released my games for free. I’d rather have people playing and enjoying them vs earning a couple hundred dollars max. However, when I released my games on steam for free people were expecting to pay some sum of money to play. I will still release my future games for free but it’s nice to know people actually value your work and are excited to get a decent quality game for free.
- Internationalization is a big deal. My games are in English and that’s it. I think US Players make up about 12% of my user base on steam. I even read one review translated from Japanese that said he enjoyed the game but didn’t know what the story was about because it was in English. Kind of sucks but I’m not even sure how I would internationalize a pixel art font even if I had the translations. I guess I’d have to figure that out for the next time. Seems tricky but I guess it’s important.