Previously I have written about my experience running giveaways on Steamgifts.com for marketing Concealed Intent. Several people made some good suggestions as to what I could do better, or at least differently. One of those was asking other people for their experiences.
So I created a survey and asked other people giving away games on Steamgifts about their experiences (you can see the survey here). As I’m not a marketing or survey professional, I doubt it is a particularly good survey, but it is a start. It is focused on being fast to fill in, with questions looking at who is making these giveaways, why, and whether they are successful. Now a couple of weeks later, it is time to look at the responses. For those who wish to do their own analysis, the CSV of the raw responses (after a small edit to ensure anonymity) is available here.
There were 27 responses, 5 of which I discounted: one because it seemed like a joke, and 4 others because marketing was not listed as either the primary or secondary reason for the giveaway. In the rest of this post, the remaining 22 responses are the only ones used in the analysis below. This is quite a small sample size, and thus the results should probably be considered as anecdotal evidence for any position.
Also, two of the survey’s questions may not have worked particularly well. There seems to be a surprisingly large number of responses that the giveaway was to increase sales, but was organised by people unconnected with the dev team. This is not what I expected, and in retrospect it may be a poorly worded question. To me, if someone receives free keys directly from the dev team (as I have been asked to do numerous times), then that person is acting on behalf of the dev team. Although, looking at the question again, maybe that is not clear, or maybe people are just acquiring keys and then promoting the game on their own. This survey can’t tell the difference. Also the free text question on how results were measured is hard to categorise. Basically all the serious responses suggest mainly looking at stats on the steam backend, although a couple mentioned google analytics.
First, who answered the survey? Responders represented a broad spread of giveaway sizes and experience. Most of the games had not yet been bundled, and most had been out on Steam for a little while (not EA or just released).
Does Steamgifts for marketing work? Well, the response is decidedly mixed. Note that success here is self-reported using what ever metric the responder wishes.
So no clear answer on whether giveaways are useful for marketing here. Is there some other factor that explains giveaway success in this data? It seems that people self-reporting giveaway success are less likely to measure that success (so how do they know?), more likely to make small giveaways, and more likely to make multiple giveaways (seems obvious).
Being part of the dev team, the goal of the marketing, and the state of the game either did not seem to matter, or made only a small difference to success compared to unsuccessful giveaways.
Looking at it from a different angle, measuring the results of a giveaway didn’t seem to make much difference to whether it was considered a success. While interestingly, larger giveaways were reported as unsuccessful more often.
So what is the conclusion? Need more data is probably the prudent answer. However, I’m going to properly sit on the fence and say that Steamgifts giveaways may help marketing, but there is no clear path to success to be found here. In particular, despite the extra visibility they create, larger giveaways are not necessarily better. Also, I do find it somewhat concerning that so many people reported not measuring their results - how else do they know if it worked?