Is Having 10 Reviews On Steam Really THAT Important?

If you’re a game developer releasing a new game on Steam, chances are you’ve heard someone say that you should try to get to 10 user reviews ASAP, but is it really that important?

Short answer: YES.

But that’s not much of an article or very useful to you, now is it? Below you’ll find the breakdown of WHY it’s important to get to at least 10 reviews, and also WHEN and HOW.

Here are some useful jump buttons to help you navigate this article quicker:

If you hear the Backstreet Boys when reading this, you’re not alone.

Why is it important to get 10 reviews on Steam?

Before getting your first 10 reviews, you might as well be invisible on Steam.

Sure, you can bring people to your page using external resources like social media, or if you have enough wishlists, you’ll show up in the “Popular & Upcoming” tab (it takes about 7000-8000 currently). But you won’t show up in the Discovery Queue, which is Steam’s tool to recommend new games to players.

Not showing up here is what I’d call queue-cumber

So it’s fair to say that the Discovery Queue is pretty important. But just by how much?

We’ve polled a few Indiedevs, and we heard results ranging from a 200% up to a 900% increase in visits. Look at the graph below from Eschaton by Jabuga, the grey line represents the total amount of Steam Store page visits and the green line represents the ones coming in through the Discovery Queue.

*insert STONKS meme*

Here is another less dramatic example, for the game Sokobos by DaisyGames, with a 300% increase in page visits, with over 12.000 out of 14.000 coming from the Discovery Queue on their peak day:

Source: @DaisyGames3

So now that we’ve established that it’s really important to get to 10 reviews, let’s look at when it’s the right time. Ideally, you’ll hit this 10 review peak during your launch week because that’s when you’ve planned out most of the external promotion. But is it ever too late?

When is it important? Is it ever too late?

“Good news, everyone!” – Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (Futurama)

It seems like it’s never too late. Belgian solo dev Jonathan Lorenz did an interesting test with his game Totally Convenient which launched on March 4th, 2022 and only managed to get 10 reviews in September. As you can see from his Steam statistics below, it still jumped up considerably, with 78.11% of his visitors coming directly from Steam’s Discovery Queue. The jump only lasted a few days, however, around a week for this game:

Data from Totally Convenient – provided by @PPLorux

The reason you want this 10 review spike to happen as early as possible, is because it will also impact external factors. The press will not be as inclined to write about your game if it has zero traction, Twitch Streamers and YouTubers prefer to jump onto the bandwagon of games that are already doing somewhat well among their audience. If you get to the 10 reviews in the week of your game’s release, you have a much better shot at reaching a higher plateau of daily Steam page visits.

What happens at 50 or 500 reviews?

Are there any other thresholds that have such a magical effect on Steam? Should you aim for 50 reviews or 500 next? The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you would think.

While you obviously want as many (positive) reviews as possible, breaching the 50 or 500 threshold doesn’t actually have an impact on your visibility. It does, however, change one small thing that could have a psychological effect and convince the potential buyer to spend money on your game:

500+ reviews and 95% or more are positive = Overwhelmingly Positive

The label on your steam page will read “Overwhelmingly Positive” and this is shown pretty much everywhere. If people spot your game in the Discovery Queue or during a Steam sale, the little pop-up they get when hovering over your game will also display its review rating, and that could potentially convince them to open the store page and consider a purchase.

Furthermore, this publicly visible information is also used by other websites, one of the most important being Google:

Google’s preview shows your review score, as well as how many reviews you have

To help you visualize when the label changes from Positive to Very Positive and later Overwhelmingly Positive, you can use this chart by Eye Of The Temple dev, Rune Skovbo Johansen. Most noteworthy:

  • After 10 reviews, you will get a visible label
  • 80% or more: Positive
  • After 50 reviews, if it’s still 80% or more: Very Positive
  • After 500 reviews, if it’s 95% or more: Overwhelmingly Positive
(Source: @runevision)

How can you get to 10 reviews quickly? Some tips!

Before we get to some tips on how to get 10 reviews, let’s make it clear which reviews count:

  • It doesn’t have to be 10 “POSITIVE” reviews, but let’s be honest: we want them to be!
  • Only people who paid money for your game ON Steam count
  • Players who got a key from you through a Kickstarter campaign, a key reseller like Humble or Fanatical or even Press/Content Creators you’ve sent a Steam code to activate, can leave a review of the game, but their review will not count towards the review total.
  • You can NOT pay people to leave a review. Not with money, not with any other compensation, or you risk having your game removed from the Steam store.
  • Don’t ask players to review your game in the game itself, there is an explicit rule against it. (on a similar topic: there is no rule against asking for a wishlist, so be sure to do that in your free demo)

Keeping the above in mind, it’s important that you don’t just give away keys to your game like they don’t hold any value. Be mindful of who you’re sending keys to and what you get out of it in return.

Ask your friends & family to buy & review the game on Steam

One of the first instincts I’ve seen repeated by plenty of smaller indie devs is giving a key to all their friends and family, while these are the people who are most likely to be willing to help you out. Don’t send them codes, but ask them to BUY the game. Only reviews from paying Steam users count to your review total.

Sidenote: If these reviews come from people who have not played or reviewed any other game on Steam, you will likely get some lashback in the community hub or even in the replies of those reviews. Ask people that you know to be active gamers and that risk will shrink.

Ask your Community

Do you have a Discord or a large following on social media such as Twitter or TikTok? Make reviewing your game one of the Call To Actions that you repeat. Inform your players of the value a Steam review holds (and while you’re at it, tell them about Wishlists too!)

If you’re wondering what a good format could be for this, we recommend showcasing the reviews you do have already. It’s one of the reasons we brought to life #IReviewed on Twitter. Here is a good example of how you can raise awareness for the importance of reviews, without outright begging for them:

Ask in advance, at events

If you showcase the game at a (physical) event, and they show genuine interest in buying your game, don’t be afraid to briefly educate them about the importance of reviews, it won’t just help you but maybe other games they happen to play as well.

Ask them to actually play the game first

Next to a Steam review, you’ll see how long a person has played the game in total, how many hours of playtime they have at review time and also how many other reviews they have written. If you ask a bunch of people to leave a short review without much thought behind it, it will be obvious and it’s not a great look.

We hope that you’ve learned something new from this Treasure Trove post and if you did, please consider sharing it through any of the options below and help spread the knowledge.