What it takes to get a South African game on Steam

South African game developer Nyamakop recently announced that its latest title will be available on PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch.

The game is titled Semblance and it is a side-scrolling platformer where the player has the ability to change the level design using a set of abilities.

The title has received numerous honours from various gaming shows and is published through Good Shepard Entertainment.

The game is one of only a few titles from a South African developer to appear on the Steam Store, and will be the first from SA on the Nintendo Switch.

Nyamakop co-founders Ben Myres and Cukia “Sugar” Kimani told MyBroadband that the process of getting a South African-made game onto Steam and the Nintendo Switch is not always a walk in the park.

Steam

Kimani said the process for getting your game on Steam is much easier than it used to be, however.

“Easy. Register a company and go through Steam Direct,” said Kimani. “Steam Direct opened up Steam to anyone with a fee of $100 for each game you’d like to release.”

“Before Steam Direct, there was Steam Greenlight, where the community got to vote for what games would go on the store.”

“This was probably the easiest way as a South African or anyone to get on the store. Otherwise you’d have to get one of those coveted Steam contacts to just get you on the store, which would be hard to get without physically being at events to meet said contacts,” he added.

He noted that physically meeting contacts at gaming events was the toughest part about getting a game published on Steam before Steam Direct was introduced, as the flight expenses to events were far more than the $100 fee required now.

Myres added that while it is easy to get onto Steam, there are also drawbacks to Steam Direct.

“There have never been more games releasing onto the platform,” said Myres.

“This means a lot of your natural featuring is eliminated – you are kicked off the Coming Soon and New Releases pages really quickly by the sheer wave of new content every day.”

“In this day and age, it’s not hard to get onto Steam – the hard part is building a community outside of it to drive to the store page.”

Nintendo Switch

The ease of access experienced with Steam Direct is not found with the Nintendo platform, said the game makers.

In fact, Semblance will be the first Africa-developed IP to release on a Nintendo console.

Kimani said there are a number of obstacles to launching on other platforms as a South African developer, including meeting the right people and acquiring dev kits.

“First you need to become an approved Nintendo developer,” he said.

“That means pitching the game to a Nintendo representative, which is the same problem as meeting Steam reps back in the day.”

“Then the other problem is getting the dev kit. We managed to overcome these obstacles luckily by meeting a Nintendo rep at GDC, where we had gotten funding to attend through a scholarship program.”

He added that Nyamakop sourced a dev kit through a friend at AMAZE Johannesburg before development on the game began.

“With multiple platforms, it’s also a logistical issue – you’re making multiple store pages, uploading multiple builds, communicating with multiple representatives – it can get a bit much on top of just making the game,” said Myres.

“Releasing on multiple platforms does have some positives, though – obviously you have more people that can buy your game, but there is a halo effect, too.

“Sometimes releasing on other platforms bumps your Steam sales, for example.”

Now read: Warframe is coming to Nintendo Switch

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What it takes to get a South African game on Steam