How to make a game on Steam
It is I, your one and only Princess. Many people have been wondering how exactly do we make a game on CloudNovel, and then sell it online to places like Steam or Itch.io, well to be honest there isn’t a lot of advice or information on how to exactly sell your game on Steam, nor any books on how to do this or what it’s like to sell your game and be an indie game developer on Steam.
Having now uploaded 2 of my otome games on Steam (Café Rouge and High School Otome) I now know what it’s like to sell your game on the Steam platform, and because there are just not a lot of information on how to do this, I thought I should just write it in this blog post, and share with all of you my experiences on the Steam platform as an indie developer using our CloudNovel game engine.
For technical information on how to upload to Steam, we have a tutorial in the official CloudNovel documentation that you can read here: https://cloudnovel.net/documentation/novel/advanced/uploading-to-steam
However that documentation just shows you the technicalities of uploading your CloudNovel game to Steam, in this blog post I will go into details on the hurdles or first uploading your game, then releasing it and the after math of dealing with the users on Steam.
1. Getting approved as a game developer on Steam
Sorry kids, you have to be at least 18 or older in order to sell your game on Steam. Being an indie game developer is a job that the government/IRS recognizes as income, so in order to even upload your game to Steam, you need to file taxes every year on the money you earn from your games. You have to be an adult in order to do this, sorry kiddos (well you can always have it under your parents’ name, so that way you can still make your game but all the legal taxes information has to be under your guardian/parent’s title.)
But honestly this step doesn’t take too long, Steam just has to get all the tax information and other information just like any other place on the internet where you can earn money (like Patreon or PayPal) so just fill out all the necessary information and Steam will approve you as a game developer in no time.
2. Learning how to upload your game onto Steam
Unfortunately, there is no magic GUI interface where we can just easily upload a zip file of our entire game package and upload it to Steam with a single click of an “upload” button. You have to learn coding, and use that scary looking black box (or white for terminals on Mac) and type special command line codes to upload your game.
This is unfortunate since CloudNovel is designed for anybody to make games without learning coding, but in order to upload and sell your game on Steam, you need to learn coding. Yuck.
3. Releasing your game
This is the part of where I wanted to focus on the most in this entire blog post. When I released Cafe Rouge, I was absolutely shocked at the amount of criticism I got from the game. To put it delicately, many people were very nit picky about the game and they compared the game to big block buster video game studios and said that “my critique is harsh, but that is because it is a Steam game” so having your game on the Steam marketplace places your game on a higher level to the point where Steam users will even compare you to big game names like Kingdom Hearts or Nier Automata, and if your game is even slightly not as good, then they will rate your game as “huge disappointment” because they compare you to these big named games that are also on Steam (like Sims 4 or other games).
So my point is, when you release your game on Steam, be prepared to be compared to these big named games and have criticism where if your game is even slightly not perfect, Steam users will NOT let go of it. When there is a new game on Steam, Steam users expect your CloudNovel game to be the next “Sims 4” or “Nier: Automata” so your game will be harshly compared to other big games on the Steam marketplace.
Honestly, I was shocked by all the criticism I got for my game Cafe Rouge, but should I have been surprised? No, because many other big named games also sell their games on Steam, so putting our visual novel game on a huge game marketplace like Steam, I honestly should have expected to receive very harsh criticism from the start.
So… just be emotionally prepared to be critiqued by harsh reviews of your passion project of 2-3 years be torn apart from harsh critics calling your game a “huge disappointment” or “horrible game.” People have paid money to play your game, and they want their money’s worth out of your game.
All in all, I’ve had decent success having now released two games on Steam, and I know what it’s like as an indie developer selling your CloudNovel games on the Steam platform. When you have a game on Steam, your game is treated on a higher level. It is a marketplace for professional games made by big named video game companies like EA and Square Enix. You have to be mentally prepared to deal with your customers who may come across as harsh and mean, but they paid their own precious money to buy your game, and selling your games is like running a business or being an entrepreneur. It is harsh, and hard to earn money.
With that said, I hope you found my blog post informative and gives you a glance on how to sell your own games on the Steam marketplace. Remember don’t give up, and don’t take critiques personally. It’s a dog eat dog world.