Gameshow Review: Experience the excitement of gameshows with TentuPlay. This time, we visited gamescom2023.
Gamescom2023 is back! Since the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been held both online and offline as a hybrid event. However, this year it has returned on a much larger scale. Sentience was chosen as a speaker for Devcom, the pre-developer conference of Gamescom, in 2019, and this year, Sentience attended Gamescom as a visitor instead of a speaker. In this blog, I will share my experience at Gamescom as a visitor.
From 21st to 22nd, the Devcom developer conference was held. Though smaller than GDC, it offered a variety of talks on game development, team building, and marketing. This year, AI was a hot topic, and there were several talks on utilizing AI in game development, such as ChatGPT. However, some talks were unavailable due to limited space, which was unfortunate.
One talk, in particular, presented by Valve, called "Steam Visibility: How Games get surfaced to Players" was incredibly popular. People were lining up to the point of filling the floor.
Steam is a platform where game developers, especially indie ones, can launch their PC games, and I paid close attention to the talk as Sentience is also launching our game, South Pole Bebop, on Steam.
Let's take a look at Valve's talk about Steam visibility. According to the speaker, most visibility on Steam happens automatically. Steam has two types of game visibility: algorithmic-based and curated-based exposure. The top banner on the front page of Steam is a curated section, which Steam handpicks with strict standards and is visible to everyone.
Curated section at the top on the very front page of Steam
Steam believes that a game's sales reflect players' interest in it. So, curated sections such as Daily Deals, Midweek, and Weekend Deals are all determined based on the game sales. Additionally, since the curated sections are visible to everyone, the games featured must be highly competitive. Steam suggested several ways to attract a broad audience: localization, regional pricing, marketing assets, controller support, and community.
One of the algorithmic-based sections is called Featured & Recommended, which is right below the curated section. It automatically showcases games that users are likely to play based on tags of games that users like. "Games that users like" refers to games that users have played or added to their wishlist, games that their friends have played or wishlisted, games that their friends have recommended, top sellers in their region, the latest games, and games from curators they follow.
The speaker outlined how games are selected for each section of the platform. For instance, a newly released and quickly popular game will be displayed at the top of the "New & Trending" section, while a game that has achieved high sales in a particular country will be featured in the "Top Seller" section.
Lastly, the speaker addressed a common misconception about how to increase visibility on Steam. There are some rumors that suggest certain factors, such as traffic on the store page, review scores, number of wishlists, and early access affect curation featuring. However, the speaker clarified that this is not true. While these factors may have indirect impact, they are not direct factors that determine curation featuring. On the other hand, it was emphasized that localization is a direct factor that affects featuring. Games that do not support the user's selected language are less likely to be featured in curation.
During the speech, the speaker mentioned that Steam can help games succeed by creating a snowball effect. However, game companies must take responsibility for rolling the ball themselves, using various methods such as Discord, forums, social media, and game shows. So let's roll the ball and achieve success for our games, including Sentience's very own game "South Pole Bebop"! (You can download the presentation of Valve here.)
Devcom offered various talks and workshops, as well as small booths and networking events. At the booths, visitors could check out various game development tools and indie games. Meanwhile, attendees had the opportunity to meet new people at networking events and after-parties. I'll provide more details about the parties later on.
Gamescom was a massive gaming show this year, with 320,000 visitors in total according to Koelnmesse. The show had 10 halls, with one hall being comparable in scale to G-STAR, and several halls consisting of both the first and second floors. This means that there were almost 14 halls in total.
Among these halls, there were also 5 B2B halls (including the first and second floors), making it the largest B2B event among other gaming shows. The first day of Gamescom was exclusively for business meetings. It took a whole day to get familiar with the venue and figure out your way around it.
When you hear the term "game show," video games might be the first thing that comes to mind. However, Gamescom had an added appeal: the opportunity to participate in various sports games. Participants could play table tennis, toss a football, and even enjoy inflatable bounce slides - games that many of us played with during our childhood. In addition, there were games played on very old computers, showcasing the passion that Europeans have for gaming.
Of course, there were many big games released by major game companies, which often resulted in long waiting times to play the popular games. However, I found myself more drawn to the games developed by my friends and the representatives I support.
At IndieArk, Turtle Cream's roguelike game RP7 was exhibited, and I could see many players enjoying the game with its unique controller. (Congratulations on the publishing contract!) I also had the chance to meet a new friend at Devcom who works for Joystick Ventures, the company that invested in and published the game Chicken Police. Moreover, I tried out Pigromance, a game developed by OAA, at the Gravity booth. The CEO of OAA even wore a piggy mask voluntarily and walked around the halls!
I think attending networking parties is the highlight of every event. These parties offer a great opportunity to meet diverse and interesting people whom you wouldn't expect to meet elsewhere. During the week of devcom and Gamescom, after-parties are held everywhere. The Gamescom organizers and participating companies organize parties around the venue, which can be easily found by searching on Eventbrite.
As a CEO of Sentience, I had the chance to meet a diverse group of people and even got to meet the famous science YouTube channel, 'in a nutshell-kurzgesagt' team, at one of the after-parties. It was fascinating to sit at the same table with the creators I had only known through YouTube. Not only was I excited, but my fellow Sentience team members, who are also fans of 'in a nutshell', were delighted and amazed as well.
I had a fortuitous encounter at a publisher and developer meetup, where the organizers failed to show up on time. Consequently, the attendees dispersed into smaller groups. It was during this impromptu gathering that I got to meet the developers of Skyweaver.
In addition, As our game South Pole Bebop is a turn-based strategy game, we were active in the Turn-based Games Discord community. There, I had the opportunity to meet some of the people we had conversations with on Discord in person. Among them was the impressive strategy game development team called Billion Worlds, working on an excellent game called Yield.
I had a great time at Devcom and Gamescom, where I had the opportunity to meet many different people, experience various games, and engage in interesting conversations. It was also a chance to appreciate the beauty of Cologne, while sipping on some Kölsch beer and admiring the view of Cologne Cathedral. If you plan on attending Gamescom next year, it's important to remember that when you drink Kölsch beer, the waiters will continue to refill your glass until you place a coaster on top of it. Therefore, it's essential to keep an eye on your coaster so that you don't end up drinking more than you intended!
If you are interested in Korea's biggest indie game show, check the article below about Busan Indie Connect 2023!
→ [Gameshow Review] The Largest Indie Gameshow in Korea: Busan Indie Connect Festival 2023