Things to consider before publishing your game

1. Performance and Stability

The first thing you need to be absolutely sure of is that your game actually runs…at least for most players. You can do this by testing it on various systems and sending it to your friends or this community first. Frequent run time errors, crashes during loading sequences and in-game glitches/missing content are a kiss of death for your games success. You also need to consider performance. How does the game run on a mid-range gaming rig? You need to get at least 30 FPS for your game to be accepted. The truth is, no one will enjoy even the most custom and lofty game play if it clunks along at 15 fps. Trust me, poor performance are the very first thing reviews will mention if you don't put in the work here.

2. Game time

Regardless of how long it took you to finish your game. If the player can play through it in 20 minutes or less and you ask 5 bucks for the experience, there is a problem. Now I am aware how hard it is to get good game time…but hey, you want to SELL your game so you better deliver. You should aim for at least 1 hour of game play (not including loading screens) preferably more. Just imagine yourself paying for a game, having rather long loading times only for then having about 5 minutes of game play per level. Total game play amounting to 20 minutes for 4 levels. You'd have to have absolutely riveting features to justify that.

3. Be honest about your game

This is a point that I find of utmost importance and something that bothers me personally. The rampant dishonesty you see in project descriptions on steam can go so far that it borders on fraud. You'll see bare bones, stock content games with half a dozen maps, a few zombies within these maps and maybe one or 2 notes to read described something like “Dive into a deep, well written and engaging story filled with unique characters and exciting game play” “Stunning visuals” “hours of fun”. Now I always have to chuckle at descriptions like this when its obviously not even remotely in the game but your customers will not. So don't advertise your game like its the next fallout! Your customers will find out the truth once they hit the play button and will feel cheated even if your game is somewhat decent. Instead: Be honest, describe your games strengths! Point out the strengths and features that make your game good. Describe the game play that the player will really encounter and tell them what really is unique or engaging about your game. If you find that your game doesn't really have anything these adjectives apply to at all… well then you might not want to sell it yet.

4. Price

I understand that some people only gotten into this having profit in mind and I can't really blame 'em. So, to continuously make money: Put a fair price on your game. Its a free market, so you can do what you want but 8 bucks for an early access title is generally a bad idea. Try to remain within the 4 to 6 Dollars a pop price range and you won't see complaints. Its also the type of money many people are willing to dish out on an impulse buy. You can even go as far as openly say that you are just a hobbyist, or a beginner. People usually respect that. Now, taking this into consideration you also need to know an ancient rule of game development in general: Never shine a spotlight on a turd. Don't draw too much attention to the downsides of your game either! Now, I've seen some people making truly teeth atrocious games bribing people to leave them some good reviews because they know their games are horrendous. I know that some of these tactics are effective just…please don't be that guy. Its dishonourable.

5. GDevelop community

Most low quality games on steam come from people that are not an active part of this community. I find that the people on here are generally helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to making games and their feedback might help you elevate your game to higher levels. The community here also tends to provide pretty good feedback on whether something is ready to be sold or not. All parents exaggerate the achievements of their offspring and you might look at your game in a similar way. You spent a lot of time and energy on it and might see things in it that aren't there… so feedback from complete strangers is valuable. As long as you can differentiate between haters and people with good constructive criticism. Talking to the people that use the same software as you do might help you overcome some road blocks fairly easily. Teamwork is very important.

6. Master the basics first

We all got started somehow but if you think a game with stock assets, dragged and dropped together without clear art direction will do well in the real world… well it won't. Not only will it not do well but your efforts will also be branded an asset flip! Best practice is making a few simpler games, smaller in scope, before you tackle a commercial project. Learn to maintain a consistent art style throughout your game. Mixing and matching store assets by many different artists with different styles and abilities rarely works! You will then also be able to optimise your props as many are sold with rather high-res textures that might cause you issues in the final build. Learn basic drawing… a lot can do once you can combine different drawings, make basic architectural props and add/remove parts to animated models. You will have way more possibilities and people tend to notice these things. You don't need to be a master coder to make a decent game but make sure that you are at least able to read and understand what each event and property does.

The internet is full of amazing game related resources. Free scripts, models, sprites, textures, music, sound. Naturally a lot of these things are ripped directly from other games. Now, if you release free games or if you are modding something, its not the end of the world but if you have content like this in your game, whether intentional or accidental, you might even end up in court or at least have your game taken down from the stores! Because a lawsuit isn't cheap, you better double check that you own the rights to every prop you use, every sound you play and every image you put into your menu screens. Also be vigilant if you use free packs! I've downloaded an extensive prop pack once only to find out way later in life that all those assets were actually ripped from an other game. Just something to be aware of.

8. Early Access but only if its at least beta

Hold back on releasing your game until its at least somewhat finished. A beta state would be quite right for a public early access. If your game has promise but needs some touching up its ready for early access. Players aren't stupid and can see potential. However, if its just plain unfinished in every conceivable way and you have already cornered yourself by promising changes that you might not yet know how to implement you just make a bad impression. You can get valuable player feedback by releasing something early …but not TOO early