Releasing a Game on Steam

So you’ve done it. Your game is nearing completion and you can’t wait to share it with the world. But what’s the best way to do it?

Currently, for independent developers, it’s hard to imagine getting your PC game out there without using Steam (though the Epic Store is rising to challenge this, but that’s a conversation for another time.)

Whilst Steam has lots of detailed information on how to do this, we’ve put together a handy guide which condenses some of that information to be easily digestible.  Read on!

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Before you even start looking at publishing your game, there are a few things you’ll need to set up and information you’ll need to gather first:

  • A bank account and the account details
  • Identity documentation
  • Tax information
  • A product submission fee of $100.00

In regards to the bank account details, you’ll need your account name, account number and bank address. It may be worth discussing whether you need to set up a business bank account to trade as a company to deal with payments.

Whatever you choose to do, you’ll need to make sure the account name matches your identification documents.

In regards to tax, you’ll complete a brief tax questionnaire when signing up, so Steam can work out your tax status and withholding tax.  What information you’ll need to complete the questionnaire will depend on whether you’re signing up as an individual or as a company.

If you sign in here, you’ll be able to find out more about withholding tax.

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Once you’ve done all of the above, there are six steps you’ll need to go through in order to see your game on the Steam Store.

1 – Set up a Steamworks Account

This one is relatively straightforward. Once you’ve set up an account with your bank, tax and company information (and it’s been verified), you can add more users and set up your first product.

You can set up an account by clicking here.

2 & 3 – Download Steamworks SDK & Upload your Build                                          

You’ve done all of the above, so what’s next? It’s downloading Steamworks SDK which will enable you to build and upload your product to Steam by giving you access to scripts and templates.

They have a video you can watch about this, and how to build your game in Steamworks, which you can see by clicking here.

There’s a lot of information to be found in this section, so feel free to check out Steam’s detailed section on this bit, just click here.

4. Configure Steamworks Features

Steam offers a large selection of tools which can help add value to your game. You can use as many and as few as you like. It’s worth spending a bit of time choosing these features carefully.

You’ll have options to add game notifications, achievements, micro-transactions, multi-player and error reporting etc.

Choose the ones that suit your needs the best, and move onto the next step!

5. Store Page & Pricing

You’ll need to manage your Steam store presence in order to get the most out of your game. There’s a lot you’ll need to consider.

You can put up a ‘Coming Soon’ space on your product well in advance of the actual release date. You can release your game with Early Access so people can purchase and play your game whilst it’s still in the Alpha or Beta stage (though there are pitfalls you should be aware of if you decide to do this.)

You can allow reviews, publish trailers and really try to sell your game.

It’s also important to consider pricing. Steam gives you information on how to do this here, but these are the things you should be considering when thinking about your price point.

These include:

  • How long does your game take to play?
  • Can you replay it?
  • How much are similar games charging?
  • Are you going to offer expansions at a later point?

6. Preparing to Release

When all of that is done, you just need to sit back and relax as Valve review your product. Make sure to mark your game as ‘Ready to Review’ to let them know you’re good to go!

There are quite a few things they’ll be looking into, and you can read it in detail here.

But to give you some idea of what they’ll be looking at, you can expect them to review your store page, the contents of your screenshots, your description and most crucially, that your game loads and works.

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Hopefully, everything above will go smoothly, but once all that’s done, you’re not quite out of the woods yet. There are two things you should know:

  1. There will be a 30-day waiting period between when you pay the submission fee and when you can release your game. This is in large due to Valve reviewing your product, as mentioned above.
  2. Your store page will need to be publicly visible and set to ‘coming soon’ for at least two weeks. Valve states this is to help build up interest from your customers and to make sure your product has the best presentation when you click ‘release’.

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Valve have seven things that you shouldn’t, and they won’t allow, to be published on Steam. This is available on their website, but to keep everything in one place, you can read them below:

  1. Adult content that isn’t appropriately labelled and age-gated
  2. Libellous or defamatory statements
  3. Content you don’t own or have adequate rights to
  4. Content that violates the laws of any jurisdiction in which it will be available
  5. Content that exploits children in any way
  6. Applications that modify customers computers in unexpected or harmful ways, such as malware or viruses
  7. Applicants that fraudulently attempts to gather sensitive information, such as Steam credentials or financial data (e.g. credit card information)

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Releasing your game is both an exciting and nerve-wracking time! But if you follow the steps above, and the more in-depth advice available from Steam, there’s no reason to worry.

If you want to join the Steamworks Distribution Program, click here. If you want to read their ‘Getting Started’ information in detail, click here.

Have you released a game on Steam recently? How did you get on? Let us know!