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How To Write Your Game's Short Description
Learn how to write this crucial part of your game's store page.
So you’re working on a really awesome game that people will love? That’s great, but to get people to play your awesome game you’ll need to create an equally awesome store page, and one of the most vital parts of a store page is the short description.
How Important Is Your Game’s Description on the Store Page?
Unless you’re working with a massive AAA game marketing budget, your game’s store page description is as important as the game itself. The purpose of the store page is to entice people who are likely to enjoy your game to add it to their wishlist, share it with others, and ultimately invest their time and money in it.
Although screenshots are typically the first thing to grab a shopper’s attention, the written description provides vital context that can convert shoppers into players. To do this, the description must take everything your game is and convey it through text while also building trust in the developer(s) behind it.
And, of all the text on a store page, the short description is arguably the most important of all.
What Is the Short Description?
On Steam, the short description is the small block of text on the right side under the header image. On store pages that don’t have a dedicated space for short descriptions, think of it as the first few lines of text in the description. In any case, it is the first thing people read after looking at the screenshots.
While screenshots and videos will certainly entice shoppers by setting a vibe, the short description is where interested shoppers look to find out if their expectations will be met and if they are truly interested in playing your game.
To determine this, shoppers want short descriptions to succinctly answer three questions:
What kind of game is it?
Why would someone play your game?
How does it feel to play the game?
In the case of Steam, the short description needs to answer these questions in 300 characters or less. Think of it as the elevator pitch — you have only a moment to sell your idea to a potential buyer before they’re gone forever.
So let’s break down how to answer these three questions.
What Kind of Game Is It?
Games come in an unfathomable amount of shapes and sizes, so you need to funnel shoppers’ expectations by giving them a high-level view of what kind of game yours is. This includes details such as:
What genre(s) is it?
Where and when is it set?
How difficult is it and are there accessibility options?
How does it actually play?
These details will help shoppers determine if your game is like something else they’ve enjoyed or have become interested in. Although this is high-level, be specific with your answers — for example instead of calling it an “action” game, specify the subgenre, such as “looter shooter”.
Why Should Someone Play Your Game?
While the high-level details provide some context for your game, they will not necessarily make your specific game stand out in the crowd. To explain why someone should play your game out of the dozens like it, you need to understand its unique selling proposition (USP). USP is a fancy marketing term that simply refers to what makes your game different and better than its competitors.
You probably already have some idea what your game’s USP is, but try this if it’s hard to put into words: make a list of the features you love most about your game, what your fans love most about your game, and anything that sets it apart from other similar games in a positive way. Now take that list and narrow it down to the most unique and impressive items. Roughly speaking, that’s your game’s USP, and it will be essential for your short description.
How Does It Feel To Play the Game?
Your short description needs to elicit emotion in shoppers. You want shoppers to feel excitement and desire for your game, but you also want to give the players a sense of what emotions they will feel while playing the game. To do this, you’ve got to convey the feeling of gameplay through words.
Think about what verbs most apply to how players experience your game. Common examples include:
Additionally, consider the story your game tells, because the story absolutely contributes to what it feels like to play the game. If you insist that your game has absolutely no story, consider instead what the stakes are (i.e.; the stakes of Tetris are to not let the tiles reach past the top of the screen). While the short description is not a place to detail the entire story, it is a great place to briefly introduce the main character(s) and their goal to begin building an emotional connection and desire to learn more.
Writing the Short Description
Now that you’ve got answers to shoppers’ three questions it’s time to write the actual short description. There’s no single correct formula for this part, so you’ll have to be creative in terms of what information you provide in what order and how — not all of the information you want to provide can (or even should) make it into the final short description.
Here’s a real example of the thought process behind the short description for the most recent game I’ve worked on, called Cook Serve Forever:
What Kind of Game Is It?
Cook Serve Forever is a cooking game set in a solarpunk city that’s challenging yet easy to learn thanks to straightforward “follow the prompt” gameplay.
Why Should Someone Play It?
Cook Serve Forever’s USP is that it emphasizes story and characters, is set in a beautiful and unique solarpunk setting, and creates a sense of adventure.
How Does It Feel To Play the Game?
Players in Cook Serve Forever will:
Some Early Drafts
As always, I drafted up several different possible versions of the short description to consider, some of which I’ll share here. You’ll notice that these sometimes disregard my guidelines, because it’s always okay (and often even useful!) to think outside the box and make mistakes in the drafting phase — you never know when it might inspire something great!
Go on the adventure of a lifetime as Nori Kaga, a home-taught chef with nothing to her name but a food cart and a dream. Along with her partner Brie, Nori will explore a vibrant solarpunk city and meet a diverse cast of characters in this fully-voiced cooking adventure about family, friends, and the legacy we leave behind.
Ten years ago, Nori's mom taught her how to cook. Today, Nori embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. Explore a vibrant solarpunk city, learn delicious recipes, and meet a diverse cast of friends and foes on your way to culinary greatness. Are you ready to get cooking?
Explore a vibrant solarpunk city from your food cart! Manage your menu, learn delicious recipes, and meet a diverse cast of friends and foes on your way to culinary greatness. Are you ready to get cooking?
The Final Short Description
After about 10 different drafts and lots of feedback, here’s the short description we ended up with:
“Cook Serve Forever is a cooking adventure game where you play as Nori Kaga, a home-taught chef with nothing to her name but a food cart and a dream. Manage your menu, learn delicious recipes, and meet a diverse cast of friends and foes on your way to culinary greatness.”
Note that we didn’t mention the “follow the prompt” gameplay or even the “vibrant solarpunk city” mentioned in all three drafts. This is because visual details like those are best conveyed through screenshots — mentioning it in the short description would be a waste of the limited space.
Check out some store pages of your favorite games to see how they’re described. What makes them unique? What drew you to them in the first place?
How To Write a Game is a free publication written by Ryan Matejka, an organic human who loves to write. If you like this, please consider making a small donation.