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Major Announcement: Fatal Theory GREENLIT for Steam!!

Kicking off 2015 with some big and wonderful news: Fatal Theory was GREENLIT for Steam! You may have seen me or my brother announce it on twitter about a fortnight ago, but I decided to hold off on posting it up here until I had time to pair the announcement with some sexy sexy analysis of the Steam Greenlight process: our stats, what worked for us, and where I think Steam is poised to head based on watching them very carefully over the past year.

Basically, I'm taking the excuse to write an article I think will be interesting to players but useful to other devs too.

First of All, Let's Open With Some Stats

In the end we received 3,186 yes votes, 4,315 no votes, and garnered 11,064 unique views. Pretty cool for our first little game right? The odd thing about this announcement though, is it wasn't even enough to break into the top 100 games.

"What?" you might be thinking. "Don't you need to be in the top 100 to get selected for Greenlight?"

Well, no more apparently. In fact, we weren't even close. We were 75% of the way to the top 100. We estimated another 1000 yes votes would put us in with a good chance to cross the finish line, and were in the middle of planning a campaign to get them so we wouldn't have to go through the whole Greenlight process again with Starslinger Kings, and then boom. BOOM! But actually it's not that weird, as I'll discuss later in the " What Can We Infer? The Future of Steam" section.

What Worked For Us?


Some games, when they hit Greenlight, they just take off. You see that massive spike at the beginning of the graph? All games get that. The first day, or maybe two days of being on Greenlight, you get a massive number of views, and if your game is remarkable (note: in this context remarkable is not a measure of quality but of how likely people are to tell other people about your game) then that number will multiply and multiply, and that's how you get games like Crawl smashing through the process in a single day.

In our case, the game just isn't very remarkable. We have connected to some fans who have loved the game, its art, and its story/humour, but it's niche. And I mean real niche. A beat 'em up with no Z-axis movement and Guilty Gear-esque combo-mechanics? Try pitching that to a room of people and trust me, it's 99% blank stares (the other 1% is that guy studying multimedia in college who tells you it's the best game ever because he thinks you might be hiring).

Anyway, our initial views spiked rather than multiplied, and then as you can see, dropped off completely. We got some press coverage, which always made my day but wasn't with any of the "big league" sites and didn't convert to many views, all told.

So what are those little spikes? Features and bundle sales. Those hills are a graphical representation of Matt and I selling our souls to the devil. That might sound a little dramatic, but look at this way: in our bid to become Steam developers (which is where any enterprising young studio wants to be, being that 70% of all PC game purchases are made through the Steam store) we drove the value of our game towards zero, and supported a system routinely driving the value of ALL small games down. We made it to the finish line, but only by shooting both our feet in the process. We needed the reach, we needed the votes, so we put the game in bundles. One bundle sold Fatal Theory alongside 11 other games, for a fixed price of $1.50 (of course we didn't know this was their plan or we'd never have gone along with it, but we didn't ask either). We sold something like 1000 copies and made like $40 after fees. Bummer.

One feature that deserves a highlight here though is the Indie Game Stand pay what you want sale – it was really cool. We like the pay what you want vibe, and some people were quite generous. We made enough to half pay for our trip to PAXAUS last year, and you can see its impact on the campaign as that little spike from May 1 to May 4.

What Can We Infer? The Future of Steam

I wrote a thing about this, but it was long enough for its own short article, so if you’re interested in my predictions go here!

So What Does This Mean?

For us, it means the same thing every announcement, opportunity, or milestone means: more work! We’ve got to work out how to become a taxable entity as recognised by the IRS before we can even become Steam partners, then we’ll have to work out how to integrate the Steam API, add some achievements and what-not. There’s also the matter of the things we promised we’d do if we got greenlit: mac and linux ports, and a mild graphical update. Not an overhaul, mind, just a little gloss-job. We’re not even totally sure the ports will return anything, but it’s kinda beside the point: we made promises, we’ll keep them. That’s the kind of studio we determined we’d be from the outset.

For YOU, on the other hand, it means in the next couple of months or so* you’ll be able to buy our game on Steam! HOW FUCKING COOL IS THAT! Man, I still can’t get over the idea. People keep telling me “so you’re a real developer now,” which is weird, because we were already selling games, but all the same. It does feel more legit now.

*I say the next couple of months because we’ve still got to deliver a full release of One Heart by April sometime, that’s still priority one.

Closing: It’s Been a Long Hard Road Out of Hell

And I’m glad we made it. I just wanna shout out a massive, enormous, GIGANTIC thank you to everyone who voted, left feedback, and helped us get here! We’re gonna be Steam devs. Thanks to you. That's crazy, I love it.

As always, it feels like this is just the beginning of something, not the end. Every time we hit a goal we find ourselves on a tiny hill staring down some new mountain, saying “we gotta take this thing on, we gotta climb this beast.” I don't know where to climb to next, but I know it's gonna be a hard climb. It'll burn us out, blind our eyes with snow, break us beneath avalanches. But you know what? We'll get back up. I can already see ourselves, sitting on that next peak, drinking cocoa and deciding what monstrosity to climb next. 

We hope to see you there, breakers!

-Adam Carr @2HitAdam

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