Steam has offered publishers for years the ability to set a launch discount, but it appears this feature comes with a caveat.
Steam launch discounts can either take place only on launch day, or last the entire first week. They’re a way to incentivise early adoption in the crucial first few days.
You’ve likely seen this with many games, but we now know why some games don’t have launch day/week discounts. According to PCGamesN, if a game has a launch discount, it can’t be part of any other sale for at least 30 days.
Flux Game Studio’s Paulo Luis Santos told the site that this means developers need to be very aware of when they launch their games in relation to upcoming Steam sales.
“We had to re-plan our launch strategy, since there are many great sale opportunities across the year and we did not want to waste any opportunity,” he said.
This could explain why games that launch with a discount are sometimes nowhere to be found in a major Steam sale soon after launch. Part of that is obviously a desire not to devalue the game, but the other part is that a developer simply isn’t able to have two discounts in the span of 30 days.
You also don’t want to put the game on sale right after a Steam sale, so that’s another thing to keep in mind. “People after the sales won’t have the money to buy your game,” András Illés of Progorion said.
“And you have around two days to prove to the recommendation algorithms that your game deserves Steam’s extremely valuable marketing screens. Some underestimate the effect of this.”
You should read the rest of the report at the link for more on the challenges facing small teams when it comes to promoting their games on the increasingly crowded Steam market.