Hi-Rez: Steam free-to-play games have a discovery problem | PCGamesN

Smite

Hi-Rez: Steam free-to-play games have a discovery problem

Steam

Smite seems destined for years of prosperity. A simpler, third-person take on the MOBA, it’s backed by Riot Games owners Tencent, $600,000 in Smite World Championship prize money, and the plaudits of our Fraser in his Smite review.

But it’s not on Steam. According to developers Hi-Rez, that’s because it’s harder to promote a game on Valve’s storefront if it’s free-to-play.

Hi-Rez’s history as developers of Global Agenda and Tribes: Ascend means they already have a “large base” of players sold on the idea of free-to-play hardcore games, Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris told PCGamesN at GamesCom.

“That helps with the discovery problem,” said Harris. “Having the existing community.”

With access to that community, Hi-Rez are confident in their ability to bring in new Smite players by themselves. They’re less confident in Steam’s ability to promote free-to-play games.

The reason’s simple enough: free games can’t be discounted, and therefore have fewer occasions on which they can grace the Steam front page.

“Steam is a great platform and can help with discovery,” said Harris. “It’s a little harder for them to work with [a free-to-play game] developer to give it good promotion.”

Harris thinks Valve are even now thinking up solutions - but for Smite, Hi-Rez didn’t want the “added challenge” of working out how to boost the game’s profile on Steam. Hence its absence.

“I would never rule out going on Steam for now, but at this point the game is growing without it,” said Harris. “It really comes down to that.

“There’s definitely MOBA players on there. I think given time they can all discover the title.”

It’s an odd problem, given that two of Steam’s most prominent free-to-play games are Valve’s own. Valve tend to reserve a space on the front page carousel for TF2 or Dota when there’s a big update - but could they be doing better?

Login or Register
2
+2
-0
subedii's picture
417

If rumours are true, with how Valve are going to be changing the store and how it's to be curated, they're already working on doing better.

One thing that might help is if in-game purchases could be advertised as on-sale on the main store page (as it stands it looks like they don't even do that for Dota 2 / TF2). But at the same time I worry that would create WAY more noise than there already has been on the front page.

Personally though I think there's a bit of a culture difference with the audience to begin with. People like to buy games to keep in their Steam accounts. The audience still isn't as attuned to microtransaction based games as say, the mobile market.

Try these free to play games
?

These are affiliate links - clicking them and playing the games directly supports PCGamesN

Spotlight
?

Our Spotlight units plug content our journalists have made, that our advertisers want to promote. Sometimes the promotion is paid for, but the content they go to is always independent with no client oversight or approval.

Alienware - Game VictoriousTurtle Beach
Smite beginner's guide: become a god

Smite

Smite beginner's guide: become a god

Gaze into the stunning eyes of SMITE's newest God: Medusa the Gorgon

Gaze into the stunning eyes of SMITE's newest God: Medusa the Gorgon

Bellona is Smite's new ultimate warrior

Bellona is Smite's new ultimate warrior

Watch the Smite World Championship finals right here; winner takes home $1.3 million dollars

Watch the Smite World Championship finals right here; winner takes home $1.3 million dollars

Smite's gods get rowdy in a new trailer, setting the stage for the World Championship

Smite's gods get rowdy in a new trailer, setting the stage for the World Championship

SMITE World Championship prize pool becomes third largest in eSports history

SMITE World Championship prize pool becomes third largest in eSports history

Would you like to own a god? We've got five codes for Smite's new one

Smite

Would you like to own a god? We've got five codes for Smite's new one

SMITE World Championship raises over $2 million dollars; still more than two weeks to go

SMITE World Championship raises over $2 million dollars; still more than two weeks to go

Smite World Championship prize pool reaches $1.3 million and still has 8 weeks left to grow

Smite World Championship prize pool reaches $1.3 million and still has 8 weeks left to grow

Smite's European teams duke it out this weekend for a spot in the World Championships

Smite's European teams duke it out this weekend for a spot in the World Championships

Smite picks up another Roman god: green-fingered tree-chap Sylvanus

Smite picks up another Roman god: green-fingered tree-chap Sylvanus

Picking faith: how the Smite team turn gods into game mechanics

Picking faith: how the Smite team turn gods into game mechanics

Smite review

Smite

Smite review

Smite's angry deities will soon be fighting with purpose

Smite's angry deities will soon be fighting with purpose

The Odyssey is the Smite World Championship's answer to the Dota 2 Compendium

The Odyssey is the Smite World Championship's answer to the Dota 2 Compendium

Smite celebrates Independence Day: Life, liberty and the ability to play as every god

Smite celebrates Independence Day: Life, liberty and the ability to play as every god

Good gods: Smite World Championship to offer more than $600,000 in prizes

Good gods: Smite World Championship to offer more than $600,000 in prizes

The gods of Smite bless the weekend with bonus favor

The gods of Smite bless the weekend with bonus favor

SMITE update gives Agni a makeover, and we're giving away codes for his new look

Smite

SMITE update gives Agni a makeover, and we're giving away codes for his new look

Dota 2’s Compendium turns your International bets into treasures and boosts

Dota 2’s Compendium turns your International bets into treasures and boosts

Attack of the Clones: League of Legends’ One For All gets Mirror Mode

Attack of the Clones: League of Legends’ One For All gets Mirror Mode

Smite is out today: here's a touch of cineMOBA courtesy of Hi-Rez's animators

Smite is out today: here's a touch of cineMOBA courtesy of Hi-Rez's animators

Hi-Rez to Smite their MOBA-hungry public from March 25

Hi-Rez to Smite their MOBA-hungry public from March 25

Smite is blessed with new god Mercury, the speediest of the deities

Smite is blessed with new god Mercury, the speediest of the deities