Min word count for steam releases?

Just for curiosity, I’m gathering longer is better, but is there a minimum word count to be considered for steam? (Or a word count range count range that’s preferred), or is it more a case by case basis/how well it sells on the other platforms?

I do not believe there is a minimum word count.

I don’t actually know any of the Steam criteria. I believe that, given that Steam limits the number of games a publisher can submit per year (IIRC), then it probably comes down to just a general sense of quality. I would imagine sale metrics have some weighting.


As far as I’m aware there’s no set in stone limit for the amount of games you can publish. On the contrary, it looks like steam wants as many games in its catalogue as possible, with good and trendy titles “organically” getting to the top.

The big problem in this case is discoverability and marketing, I’d say. With thousands of games released each year on steam, it’s difficult for small to medium studios to get noticed without producing a major hit.

I was of the impression that Steam provided a limited number of ‘slots’ to publishers to release per year. Like, there’s no limit to the amount you can have in total, but there’s a limit to how many you can submit. I may be wrong.

That’s cool, I figured it was probably something like that. I was just looking through and didn’t see any of the shorter HGs there. Quite possible it’s just thought that the longer ones are likely to make more money on steam :slight_smile:

I also remember hearing something about a limited number of games that could be submitted by COG at any one time on steam.

If there was a yearly limit, I doubt things like this would happen:

…would submit multiple games to Steam through the new Steam Direct service, leading to situations where they’d publish tens of games per month, nearly reaching 100 in the past couple months alone.

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I think the limited slots was for CoG/HG games in general. Steam only allow so many CoG/HG slots. That’s iirc


This^, because they are a very new concept/out of the norm for steam. Scroll for some reviews and you’re bound to find someone moaning about the lack of graphics, and that they could do better… So you can see the reservations :confused:


Most CoG games seem to get a Steam release. For HG they seem to do just the largest and most successful-looking ones.

Correct. I know Steam allowed a limited number of text games in a given time since they weren’t sure how well it would do. Other games (like people who made visual novels) didn’t face quite the same limitation.

That said, I do think Steam also eased up on this restriction for text games. Just recently, CoG put all of the last of their official back catalog on Steam (City in the Clouds, Neighborhood Necromancer, Choice of Vampire, etc.) There is no official CoG word on this, just anecdotal observation.

Hosted Games still either has to do well, or might get supported by an established author with a track record.

So far, there is no official word count required, other than what is normally required for Hosted Games. That said, the larger ones are more likely to get put by CoG on Steam (again, nothing officially said, just observation).

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Yeah, because the reviews get even more savage for short games on Steam.


I can attest to this with visual novels as well. Most people, if they are paying for something, expect a certain amount of content for their dollar. Whether it is a fair price or not really doesn’t enter the average consumers mind.

It doesn’t help that many people look at a text game and think it should only be a few dollars at most. Those people don’t realize that writing takes time, as well as coding (I know I’ve gone on at length at this in other threads)

Of course, for discoverability, Steam does push for games to a certain price point ($10-$20 for visual novels as an example).

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Vastly more work goes into a AAA 3D RPG from say Bioware or CD Project Red than comes out of authors here. The difference is that those games are made by teams whereas the games from CoG/HG are made by one or two people (but I’ve no idea how many extras get involved behind the scenes for CoG branded stuff) so you’re not going to be able to charge all that much.

While it may take authors here a year to two to crank out 100k+ words on top of code, a Bioware writing team could probably crank that out in 3 months tops including meetings, edits, reworks, etc, Difference there with it being their day job and most authors here fitting it in around the day job and other commitments.

I honestly think £5-£7 is pushing the upper limits of acceptable pricing. Visual novels (the better ones) start coming in at around £10-£15 and up and justify that extra cost quite easily. Convert my GBP to currency of choice.

(If there’s a better topic I should move this to point me at it and I’ll do so but I think its relevant to the comment Lys made about price expectations.)

I’m curious, do you have first-hand knowledge of working with AAA development teams?

No, Bioware themselves have mentioned it only takes their writing teams 3-4 months to get the writing for a project done with occasional edits as the project progresses and things get cut or need tweaks based on project progression, but they’ve mentioned having 4-5 writers for a single character in DAI for instance, who are separate from the people writing the over-arching plot.

You also need to keep in mind that nobody here is creating or adapting a 3D game engine, creating 3D models, textures for such, animations, sound, tools for the above.

One also needs only follow the progress of Obsidian with their Pillars of Eternity projects to see that writing is one of the first things to be completed.

I’m not belittling effort here but there are skewed expectations compared to other products on the market with which products created and sold by CoG/HG authors are competing.

He would still be right in terms of total manhours. But it’s not a realistic comparison. Most of the games on Steam or the App Store that are more direct competition to CoG and its brethren are either from small indie studios or individuals. And those games take an equivalent amount of time to make, and are priced similarly. I agree CoG should never go above the $8-9 mark. That way lies madness. But right where they are seems fine, particularly if you buy at launch.


If anything the manpower hours done for a CoG/HG (not to mention visual novel) actually makes it more work intensive than the AAA games. Even if they aren’t using an advanced engine, writing and coding takes a lot of time, and then run playtesting on it as well, etc.


I can’t speak from firsthand knowledge with Bioware, however, taking third-hand accounts into consideration from their latest ME:A project, the practices, and procedures differed substantially from what you cite here.

This team was forced to write the dialogue, quests, etc in a very compact time frame. Due to this fact and the fact that there were additional changes required due to other issues elsewhere on the team the writing turned out to be criticised quite a bit as the weakest put out by Bioware in a while.

If you talking about the entire project, that is true but when narrowly focused on the writing elements an actual comparison can be made - depending on the AAA title and dev team working on it. Some AAA efforts I know of had a small writing team equivalent to 1-2 full time writers working on quests, story-arcs, etc.

Most of the projects I’ve been a part of had writing be one of the last things finalized - usually because all of the other things that go into making a graphical game takes up the allocated developmental cycle. Due to this reality, writing is usually not as intensively covered - from conception to implementation to testing, writing on AAA titles suffer as a result.

If I remember correctly, the Obsidian team had their graphical engine ready to go when they signed their publishing agreement with Paradox. I’ll try to verify but I was under the impression their writing came after the engine was developed and the modeling was underway.

The pricing aspects of CoG/HG titles have their own thread, so I’m going to refrain from re-stating what I’ve said before (I think my latest comments were in the thread active 5 days ago or so)

This is exactly right - AAA graphical games are a different product than a CoG/HG game. The games that are direct competitors are closer in their development to the process here and it should be these we compare the CoG/HG titles to.


ME:A Was a disaster from the get-go by the sound of things and it’s not at all clear which accounts are trustworthy. I’d not necessarily use it as an example of exemplary AAA development.

At any rate, my main gist was that while it may take an author of a CoG/HG 1-4 years to write and code products they sell under those brands, that’s not an unreasonable development timeframe but it’s not going to be able to justify trying to sell for more than £7 at most.

An authors £/hr is most certainly worth more than that, but it’s unlikely sales will ever reflect that. If anyone is getting into writing text-only IF for CoG/HG or other publishers expecting to be able to command £25 or more per title they’re living in cloud cuckoo land.

No, the number of hours spent will probably be similar - the difference is only that it is one person doing everything rather than the work being split across many people. I’d not expect a CoG/HG author to be able to crank out say XoR in 4 months in a solo effort and have both a competent product and be of sound health.

Well, if Call of Duty had more than two writers I’d be surprised. Similarly if DAI/ME:A only had 2 writers I’d also be surprised. It’ll very much depend on the project. A game not really story focused isn’t going to invest many people into writing (if it is, and doesn’t it’ll most likely flop and not recover creation costs).

One also needs to bear in mind that a CoG/HG author is probably writing a few hours per night and/or at the weekend. Bioware writers will be working 8 hours/day 5 days/week on the various tasks needed to actually create the stories. That will be a significant compression of time taken on its own. A solo author might spread over 7 days what a Bioware team would do in one or two.

It’s also likely that Bioware will have other people that take the output of the writers and split it into dialogue trees and wrap the scripting around it. Several more days work for a solo author.

So I’d still argue, it’s no less work whether 1 person or more are doing (it’ll just take longer the fewer people), but that still doesn’t translate into a higher potential price.

A competent western visual novel with a developer, a writer or two, a background artist, a character artist and either a musician or licensed music could sell for £10-£15 at cheapest, add voice acting and you’re creeping up to £20-£25 and most likely after a Kickstarter or Patreon drive to get the bulk of the initial costs covered.

You really couldn’t sell a text-only game for that kind of price.

Lastly, if Lys was implicating that people thinking CoG/HG games priced in the £5-£7 range (or equivalent local currency) were priced too high then I’d agree that those people are misguided, if the implication that CoG/HG games should be sold for higher prices than they are, then I’d say that was also misguided.


So wait.
You are saying a single person doing the work of several groups does not justify the price because they are just one person?