How to Make Your Steam Early Access Game a Success

Mega Cat Studios
5 min readFeb 20, 2024

Steam’s Early Access program is a powerful tool that should not be underestimated. It allows developers the chance to sell their games before it’s even finished. This subsidizes part of the development cost and gives audiences the chance to influence a game with their own input. A player’s criticisms and critiques, as well as their own purchase of the game, directly help in the creation of a product worth playing.However, a few things need to be kept in mind when launching Early Access. These five handy tips will keep the quality of your game high and help shape your product into a success.

1) Provide a Roadmap Your Community Can Follow

When releasing a game on Steam, be sure to make a roadmap your community can follow. This is essential in keeping your audience happy and swaying newcomers to try and support your game. Having a trackable schedule of updates and features gives buyers and fans a better idea of what your game will ideally look like at the end of its Early Access Phase.

Image courtesy of Markus Winkler via Unsplash

Not only that, but you also keep the hype up and give your community something to be excited about with each new update cycle. You’re able to keep them invested for longer and keep them coming back, ensuring that you have a healthy supply of feedback.

2) Set Reasonable Expectations During Launch

When you create your roadmap, be sure not to overpromise. The biggest failing any Early Access title can do is not delivering on their word. Not only does it look bad for your credibility, but it also gives your fans the idea that you can’t deliver on your promises. Early Access games live and die by the support their audience can give. Do your best not to lose it.

3) Reach Out to Your Audience

No matter how polished or technically sound an Early Access title can be, it can still fail if a team’s communication is bad. When updates are slow and community confidence is at an all-time low, that’s when an Early Access title is at its worst.

Image courtesy of Melanie Deziel via Unsplash

Counter this by reaching out to your community. Early Access’s biggest strength has always been its ability to connect developers with their target audience, so be ready to communicate with your fans. They spent the time and money to fund and keep your project alive. As a developer, it’s only right that you engage them and keep them informed of any potential updates.

Things like Discord and Twitter are essential to maintaining your community. Steam’s own forums and other third-party message boards also work as a means of getting feedback. These may seem like small things, but these small, positive impressions will maintain your community and leave your games with a loyal, happy fanbase.

4) Push Out Frequent Updates and Bugfixes

Communication is only half the battle. You must also push out the updates that people are willing to play. Push through with your roadmap, and keep your promises. Having timely updates isn’t just good practice; it also helps you stay on top of your schedules and prevents you from overly crunching to meet deadlines.

This isn’t just for the sake of optics, either. Bugs are common, especially in Early Access titles, but particularly egregious ones can chase away your audience’s support. Polish these out as soon as possible, and remember to stay on top of them. Keeping your game polished and bug-free is a testament to a game developer who cares.

Image courtesy of Ilya Pavlov via Unsplash

If possible, have your community report these bugs to you directly. The earlier these are reported, the easier they’ll be to fix, especially if they can be replicated. In-game bug report buttons are a fantastic way of doing this, and other Early Access launch titles like Subnautica and Warhammer 40:000 Rogue Trader made heavy use of easy reporting features to iron out their issues.

5) Inspire Confidence And Be Above Reproach

The true mark of a good Early Access title is one that keeps its supporters happy from start to finish. Your fans are your game’s lifeblood, and they’re the ones who supported you from Day 1. They put money into your game even when Steam’s Early Access doesn’t guarantee a game’s release. Make them feel their purchase of your game was worth it by holding yourself up to their standards.

Remember, your credibility as a developer isn’t limited to just your own actions. You’ll also be judged by how the community your games keep. You must maintain your game’s community and keep it welcoming, agreeable, and happy. Many games and game developers have had their reputations tarnished by toxic communities. Prevent this, and ensure the health of your community.

Early Access game development might be difficult, but we here at Mega Cat Studios are always happy to support our fellow game developers. We know firsthand the effort it takes to launch these games into Early Access. Our own title, Renfield: Bring Your Own Blood , went through much of the same things and was successfully launched with the help of the loyal fanbase we were able to garner.

Renfield: Bring Your Own Blood

Talking about our Early Access experience is just one of the few things we here at Mega Cat Studios do to help budding developers find their own two feet in the world of gaming. If you want to learn more tips on making your games successful, connect with us on LinkedIn and join us on Discord !

This article was written by Alexander Cuaycong.

Originally published at https://megacatstudios.com on February 20, 2024.

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Mega Cat Studios

Mega Cat Studios is a creative first company based out of Pittsburgh, PA. We love creating games. From retro cartridges to PC & VR, come play with us.