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Steam Discoverability and Localization in 2023 - Review

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  • Steam Discoverability and Localization in 2023 - Review

2023 has been another big year for Steam, with discoverability still being one of the main pain points for publishers and developers across the industry. This year however has been notably better for improvements to localization coverage with some behind-the-scenes info on what can make your game stand out.

We know that teams don’t have unlimited time to keep up with every bit of Steam news, so we’ll cover the biggest Steam news and changes from 2023 for localization.

Steam Usage by Language

It was huge news back in 2020 when Simplified Chinese overtook English to become the most popular language on Steam. While it had already gained massive support since 2017, 2020 was the year it eclipsed other languages. To many it wasn’t surprising, but it definitely took some by surprise to see such a momentous shift. Well, here’s an update on what that language layout looks like as of 2023.

Language Popularity on Steam Chart

As of October 2023, Simplified Chinese has not only maintained its top spot, but it’s actually extended it by an additional 13% since 2022. It’s not surprising to anyone at this point that Chinese is so prevalent, but it’s notable just how popular it is compared with all other non-English languages. If we add up every language used on steam, other than English and Simplified Chinese, they add up to 27.67% of users. That’s only just higher than the percentage of players who use English.

This shows that Simplified Chinese still has to be a high priority for every release on Steam. Without it, publishers and developers are simply leaving money on the table.

Localization and Discoverability

In September 2023 Steam shared insights into how games are highlighted and discovered by new players on Steam. The report broke down the different areas of the Steam store, why games are placed there, and how their algorithms match players with games they think they’ll love.

Steam's Discoverability

One of the biggest takeaways from the report was debunking many theories on wishlisting, page traffic, and reviews, which often are talked about as definitive ways to stand out on Steam.

The only aspect that Steam’s algorithm always factors in is localization.

Steam have said similar things in the past and this report cements the importance of localization for standing out. Steam’s algorithms prioritise games available in a player’s language when selecting games to present to those players. Some may say this was always obvious, but it’s clear there are still companies out there who don’t fully appreciate just how important localization is for discoverability.

Factoring this in with the typical languages Steam players use highlights just how critical Simplified Chinese localization can be to the success of any game.

Full Indonesian Support on Steam

As of September 2023, Indonesian is now fully supported on Steam, making it the 29th language to receive full support. As part of that, Steam was actively promoting Indonesian support to developers which has led to over 900 titles already including Indonesian localization.

Those 900 titles now have far better visibility to Indonesian gamers, exemplified in the report about localization for discoverability. There’s lots of exciting things happening in the APAC region that are going to bring many new gamers, particularly from Mobile platforms, onto Steam including GeForce Now, Esports popularity, and more.

Many developers won’t have considered Indonesian localization before, but now is the perfect time to start thinking about it for releases in 2024. The addition of Indonesian now means that 7 of the 29 fully supported languages on Steam are Asian languages. While Asian languages aren’t the majority of supported languages, they do account for the majority of players.

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