If you’ve ever launched a game, chances are you’ve been asked this question: “Can I get a free code in exchange for a review?” — it sounds like a tempting offer, but there’s a lot that you as a developer need to consider before you start dishing out free copies of your game. Sure, there isn’t any overhead attached to a code, but are these Steam content creators really doing you any favors by not paying for their copy?
Steam Curators are a specific type of content creator on Valve’s Steam platform known for churning out reviews to keep the community abreast of titles worth playing and those that should be skipped. As you read on, you’ll get a better understanding of how this type of Steam content creator and can help market your game and be able to identify:
- Potential benefits and drawbacks of working with Steam content creators to get your game reviewed
- How Steam content creators stack up to other gaming influencers
- Why you should work with a Steam content creator
- What to keep in mind when working with Steam content creators
Working with Steam Curators and content creators to get game reviews
Reviews are an essential aspect of every game release. Without trusted resources organically hyping the gameplay and story, it’s possible that your game will get lost in the sea of new indie releases. That’s where influencer marketing and Steam content creators come in. Curators, as they’re also known, typically provide reviews in exchange for a code to your game.
But what are the broader benefits and drawbacks to working with these creators? Let’s take a look at both.
The potential benefits
When you work with a Steam Curator or content creator some common benefits include:
- Free marketing
- Even bad reviews can breed positive conversation
- Reaching a larger audience through popular creators
- Exposure across multiple mediums (TV, web, podcast, etc…)
- Receive input at all stages of development (alpha, beta, and early release)
The potential drawbacks
For all the positives that Steam Curators provide, there are drawbacks all game developers need to consider:
- Finding the right curator for your game can be taxing
- Reviews can be deemed biased if disclosed as a free copy
- There’s no guarantee the creator will actually write a review
- Reviews from curators that entered a product key are not included in the aggregate score
How Steam Curators compare to other gaming influencers
There are multiple ways to market your game upon release. Some developers may sink money into social media marketing. Others will let word of mouth do their job. Then, of course, there are Steam content creators and, on the other side of the spectrum, gaming influencers.
While the two offer access to a larger audience of potential players, there are a few differences to keep in mind when choosing which is best for your video game marketing needs.
The value of game reviews: Steam Curators and content creators vs. gaming influencers
It’s all a matter of trust. Who will players trust a review from more – content creators known for the many reviews in their portfolio or gaming influencers that thrive on content, views, subscriptions, and even sponsorships?
Even outside of the gaming industry, influencer marketing has a stigma behind it. It’s all about sponsorship, which means someone is getting paid to market a product. For customers interested in your product, an influencer may sway them from trusting any accolades. Additionally, influencers can be costly – at least much more expensive than a free copy of your game.
Steam Curators and content curators on the other hand are already trusted resources, who typically have already written quite a few reviews. Since they’re not sponsored and often work for free, their word is more trustworthy and considered more professional.
That said, some gamers might still be skeptical of Steam reviews ever since word got out that Steam game reviews can be purchased by game creators for as little as $5 on Fiverr.
Influence and reach
A review means nothing if it’s not going to be seen by anyone, and this is where influencer marketing may outshine Steam Curators and content creators. To be an influencer, one must have a following that hangs on their every word. They influence trends and drive what people pay attention to, and to do either they must have a large audience.
Sure, these influencers can create similar content as Steam Curators for platforms like Twitch and YouTube — although their reviews are going to be recorded and live many lives as bona fide content within the gaming community. What’s important to note is that Steam currently has more active users than Twitch and the number of YouTube gaming channels. Though TikTok reaches more than 1 billion active users, its gaming base is still growing.
Since reach is such an important aspect of being an influencer, it’s not unusual for budding influencers to purchase followers. Since your goal as a game creator is to get in front of an influencer’s large following — the last thing you’ll want to do is accidentally pay to get in front of a bunch of empty accounts that won’t play your game.
Though a large following is often seen as a hard requirement for strong influence and reach, that’s not always the case. Steam Curators and content creators are more likely to have a narrower audience than gaming influencers — but you won’t have to word about the fake followers or inflated reach numbers that run rampant with influencer marketing.
Our take: Steam Curators and content creators are an effective video game marketing tool
Though Steam may not include their reviews in your game’s aggregate score, our qualified opinion is that Steam Curators and content creators are still worth considering as a cost-effective way of generating more exposure for your game.
Of course, before diving in, you’d likely want to know why we’re giving the green light on this method of marketing.
Why should you work with a Steam Curator or content creator?
With a Steam Curator or content creator, you’ll benefit from:
- A trusted voice in the gaming community
- A defined audience
- Relatively free to free, risk-free marketing
- Honest feedback that can help improve player experience
Things to consider when working with Steam content creators
Should you decide to work with a Steam Curator, you’ll want to remember that there’s no way to guarantee success — and the same is true of working with other types of gaming influencers.
Even successful content creators can produce content that doesn’t circulate well to their audience. However, you’ll have to trust that their reach will bring you sales.
Additionally, you should remember that:
- Steam Curators and content creators will speak honestly about your game
- Creators are not obligated to provide you with a review
- You can’t revoke access to your game once the code has been accepted
- Steam can limit how many review copies you send to content creators and curators
Game reviews from Steam content creators give you cost-effective exposure
When launching a new game, one of the primary concerns is finding the most cost-effective and efficient means of marketing. One such way is through Steam Curators or content creators. An exchange of an access code for a review could lead to a bevy of new players finding your game and diving in without hesitation.
To get you on the right path and enhance your video game marketing strategy, Loopr works with any budget to formulate the best influencer, social media, and content creator marketing for your needs. Contact us today!
Can’t get enough of this stuff? Check out our video game PR case studies to learn how we’ve helped indie game developers and esports brands just like you.