Steam Game Sales Analysis: average number of sold copies down 70% and per game revenue down 47% (Based on Estimates)

Kazza

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The analysis was done by an indie game publisher No More Robots' founder Mike Rose, so I can't personally vouch for its veracity. It does make for some interesting reading.



If I understand correctly, he is trying to argue here that demand for indie games is somewhat inelastic (i.e. the price doesn't affect sales numbers) so they could increase in price, selling the same number of units and making more money:





I don't agree with this at all. I think it's more likely that the publishers of those $10 or less games know they aren't high enough quality to sell for any higher than that, and so set their prices accordingly. With the market so saturated, they might not even sell at all at a higher price point. For the games selling at $21+ it's likely that the publishers are already confident of that the demand and quality is there and so price accordingly.

Although I feel for those developers who see their life's work of a game get buried in the avalanche of new Steam releases, I think they need to adjust their perception of reality. For example, I've recently started to learn to play the guitar and to learn to code. I don't think anyone would be surprised if I were to release an album a couple of years from now and not experience any success. I think the same expectations should be applied to if I decided to release my own game. People should see developing an indie game the same as starting a band with your friends - something you do as a hobby, and if you're successful, then great, if not then at least you had fun.

Oh, and one last message for Epic Games Store critics :messenger_tears_of_joy: :


Mod Edit:


Soo yeah, it's not really useful..
 
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Generic

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It looks like he only analysed the top 20% of Steam games. Imagine how much worse the figure would be if he had included to bottom 80% as well!
The year isn't over so his comparison between 2018 and 2019 isn't very accurate.
 

Kazza

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Although Epic supporting indie game developers like they are is good in the short term, I don't think it's much a a long term solution. Time is limited whereas games, increasingly, are not. Epic can give a more curated experience (which creates problems for other indie devs who's games are then excluded from being published at all), but they can increase the number of hours in a day. It's difficult to get excited for yet another 2D metroidvania these days.
 

SlashBringingHasher

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It looks like he only analysed the top 20% of Steam games. Imagine how much worse the figure would be if he had included to bottom 80% as well!
steam rev sharing is brutal. 30%? 30% is too much. it makes sense for console makers to take 30%. they spend billions on RnD and infrastructure. as far as steam is concerned microsoft isnt charging valve for windows.
 
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most steam games are garbage tho if we're looking at the total
I'm not a PC gamer, so I don't use Steam.

I can't imagine how many turds there are in that store.... it got to be 1,000s.

Even flipping through Xbox's "All Games" filter, there's already enough lousy games and rehashed stuff to skim through. And that doesn't even include the isolated section of Creator's Collection Indie games that are around $3 each which are truly awful and not even worth going to.
 

SlashBringingHasher

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I'm not a PC gamer, so I don't use Steam.

I can't imagine how many turds there are in that store.... it got to be 1,000s.

Even flipping through Xbox's "All Games" filter, there's already enough lousy games and rehashed stuff to skim through. And that doesn't even include the isolated section of Creator's Collection Indie games that are around $3 each which are truly awful and not even worth going to.
I a not sure but I believe steam has around 30k games

you can safely assume about 20k of them are garbage. by garbage I dont mean bad games, I mean asset flips and trashware

steam needs to cut down their share to like 15%. still a bit higher than EGS, but people will still put their games on it. i dont like egs or steam, infact the only reason I still mainly play games on console is because the store system on pc is a mess. its all gimmicky and bullshit.
 
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Vawn

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Good. Step your game up Valve. Quit wishing Epic away and actually start incentivizing developers to choose Valve over Epic.
 
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sol_bad

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The top 20% is still hundreds of games that most people just won't care about and also their quality is bad.

Like for example, if Steam didn't exist, the games themselves simply wouldn't exist or may as well not exist as the developer/publisher would be releasing it on their web site making a few hundred dollars. Epic don't and won't care about them as their quality is so bad and it doesn't add anything to their "service". Meanwhile Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo also wouldn't touch them with a 500 foot pole due to quality.

There are more and more games being released on Steam, more and more shit tier, especially since greenlight stopped, so of course the average is going to lower.

The guys agenda is pretty clear once he even mentions Epic.
 

Damage Inc

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I think Indies are personally over crowded. What used to be awesome is now a flood of cheaply done pixel games with top down views or side scrollers. There have been some amazing ones from a range of different size indie studios but there’s just too many. Frankly I’m also not spending $25 on one. I have over 1k steam games now, a massive chunk of those are indies I have gathered over the years. Most are unplayed and 700 of my games are hidden.

I am way more inclined to buy AA titles at $25-$40. I think indies need to be near $15 for me to bite at full price.

most likely anything I am curious about will end up in a humble anyways with the way it’s going now a days.
 
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lukilladog

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steam rev sharing is brutal. 30%? 30% is too much. it makes sense for console makers to take 30%. they spend billions on RnD and infrastructure. as far as steam is concerned microsoft isnt charging valve for windows.
C´mon, without actual data this is meaningless, Sony game division makes several times more money than Valve. The true tyrants could very well be Sony and MS.
 
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Larxia

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Again with this 30% thing with steam? Come on.
Why do people never talk about the fact that, on top of the famous "12%" that Epic take on the games, up to another 20% of the remaining sales is distributed to "influencers", youtubers, streamers and such who promote the games for Epic?
A lot of people try to not see all the facts regarding the revenue split on the epic store, it's not as "great" as some may think.

I agree that 30% is a lot, but this hate on Valve for this is really ridiculous, everyone is acting like they are the bad guys while it's just been the standard for a long time, not just for steam. Should this standard be changed? If they can find ways to, sure (and if that way is having a barebone plateform like the epic store... then nope, steamworks is just too great) but don't be all against Valve for this, it's really just what Epic wanted, marketing everything around this famous "12%" to appear as the good guy, while there's still other stuff going on, stuff that people want to ignore.
 

Fbh

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Does he specify how many games those top 20% represent? There's a lot of shit on Steam, if that 20% still represents thousands of games then I don't see much value in this data.
 
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Guynamedbilly

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It looks like he only analysed the top 20% of Steam games. Imagine how much worse the figure would be if he had included to bottom 80% as well!
I would be curious about that. I wonder how opening the floodgates has worked out for Valve.
 

Soleil rouge

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If EGS wants to become some sort of indy game safe haven, that's great, but you're naive if you think they're doing it out of benevolence. All they want is to contend with Steam and eventually drive them out of business. Once they're the big dick on campus, you'll never see them offering those kinds of deals again.
 

sol_bad

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If EGS wants to become some sort of indy game safe haven, that's great, but you're naive if you think they're doing it out of benevolence. All they want is to contend with Steam and eventually drive them out of business. Once they're the big dick on campus, you'll never see them offering those kinds of deals again.
They don't even want an indy game safe haven, they are being very selective with what they'll allow on their store. They are way worse than Sony, MS or Ninty in regards to indy support.
 
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Generic

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Praise Lord Gaben and the Steam sales.
Epic store is spyware, I won't even install it for the free games.
I hate Epic spyware store that much, that I'm waiting for Borderlands3 and a Mechwarrior5 to come to steam lol.
This is a funny meme.

If EGS wants to become some sort of indy game safe haven, that's great, but you're naive if you think they're doing it out of benevolence. All they want is to contend with Steam and eventually drive them out of business. Once they're the big dick on campus, you'll never see them offering those kinds of deals again.
They won't drive Steam out of bussiness so I guess these deals are eternal.
 
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HoodWinked

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Ya if you can't get your game into that circle of gaming journos or a pdp your kind of on your own.

Celeste got the Royal treatment and got in that circle while being fairly unremarkable.

But also nepotism plays a big role as well look at firewatch, the number of copies that game sold doesn't even make sense. Had to do with gaming journos essentially shilling hard for it.

Anyone indie that doesn't have that kind of clout should take a epic exclusivity deal.
 

petran79

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I think he is wrong to compare every b- and c- tier game to the mainstream games. Many games after a while when the hype has settled will have their own niche sub-communities of hardcore players that can support the game and its sequels or other releases by the same developer. Eg Melty Blood has traditionally a strong international community outside Steam, despite not competing with the newer fighting games. It would be wrong to rely on Steam sales data for the game's success.
Platforms like Steam allow the widest possible sales margin for those games really. EGS and others would not allow such easy release, despite Steams banned game list
 

Graciaus

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Does he specify how many games those top 20% represent? There's a lot of shit on Steam, if that 20% still represents thousands of games then I don't see much value in this data.
170 games over a one month period if I'm reading that correctly. Also excludes anything that actually made money. Guy is just sucking epic off with no hard numbers.

Or are we to believe things that didn't sell well on steam would be killing it on Epic?
 

FMXVII

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Praise Lord Gaben and the Steam sales.
Epic store is spyware, I won't even install it for the free games.
I hate Epic spyware store that much, that I'm waiting for Borderlands3 and a Mechwarrior5 to come to steam lol.
Ain't nobody with sense gonna pay $60 for an Indie game.

I rarely buy an AAA for $60.

All that pretentious prattle does is make me want to wait for a $25 Indie game to go sale for sub-$5 before even considering a purchase.

Hell, I'd start collecting physical retro of O.G. AAA carts, before I'd do that.

There have been quite a few solid Indie games in the last few years - a handful of great ones, even. But not a single $60 one, in my opinion.
 

DeliciousDoc

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Indie games that came out around the big sale and can't sell at a huge discount are not selling so much. Does this man offer a newsletter I could subscribe to?
 

Virex

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I'm not a PC gamer, so I don't use Steam.

I can't imagine how many turds there are in that store.... it got to be 1,000s.

Even flipping through Xbox's "All Games" filter, there's already enough lousy games and rehashed stuff to skim through. And that doesn't even include the isolated section of Creator's Collection Indie games that are around $3 each which are truly awful and not even worth going to.
Here's basically how it works with indie games. For every good indie game there are a 100 shit ones. Unfortunately on Steam it's easier to find the shit ones and the true gems aren't seen or found easily.
 

sol_bad

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Here's basically how it works with indie games. For every good indie game there are a 100 shit ones. Unfortunately on Steam it's easier to find the shit ones and the true gems aren't seen or found easily.
This is not 100% true, there are definitely 100 shit indy games for every 1 good indy game. But I rarely get shit games suggested on my Steam page, it's actually very easy to find the good games for me.
 
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sol_bad

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Question about the "analysis".

Where and how is he even getting his numbers? Group pages and review numbers? He says it's all estimates but it really is all bullshit. There is no way to know exactly how many copies each game sold.
 

Dunki

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Valve should reduce their revenue split already.
Why? Epic does more on their platform than anyone else. Not Sony, MS, Nintendo or Apple who all take 30%. If Steam deserves this more than anyone else for them constantly working on new features, for customers and developers.
 
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His point about the epic store deals sounds pretty fair in light of the analysis! Any enterprise that requires skills and creativity is pretty risky, you never know exactly where and when you will end - there are no guarantees.

However about the price of those indie games, I'm not so sure where I stand, if a game seems good paying 20 - 30$ for it isn't that much, but at some point you run in the possibility that people will just go for the trouble and get a pirate copy of it (especially if they have to ask for their parents to buy the game for them).
 

Ravielsk

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A. Steam is overcrowded. There are simply too many AAA and indie games there all at once so of course revenue is going to go down.
B. Most games released these days really do not hold up past their hype cycle. They are simply too bland and forgettable to keep selling high numbers over any period of time. This goes for both AAA and indie.
C. The 30% cut is a necessity to maintain all of steams infrastructure at a reasonable click, this includes workshop, forums, tools, card marketplace and etc. Emphasis on reasonable because sure they could operate at a lower cost but that would come at the expense of quality(speed of download, availability and so on). Its only a problem when your game sell very poorly which unfortunately due to A. and B, is very common for indie games these days.
 

Woo-Fu

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steam rev sharing is brutal. 30%? 30% is too much. it makes sense for console makers to take 30%. they spend billions on RnD and infrastructure. as far as steam is concerned microsoft isnt charging valve for windows.
How do you think the games get from Valve to you, carrier pigeon?

His point about the epic store deals sounds pretty fair in light of the analysis! Any enterprise that requires skills and creativity is pretty risky, you never know exactly where and when you will end - there are no guarantees.
Except he was referring to something that generally hasn't happened. When people give a developer shit about EGS exclusive deals it is when either a) the game was already announced for steam and then pulled and/or b) the developer tries to spin it as anything other than what it is.

If that up front money is the difference between making money and losing money all they need to do is say that, nobody who isn't an idiot is going to argue with that. And it really is all about that up front check and the sales guarantee Epic offers because the 30% split itself is a gamble that you're going to sell enough games on EGS vs. what you could have sold on Steam to make it worthwhile.
 
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Looks like Steam need to curate their stores now and let go of the crap, on top of making the Platform more viable for higher quality developed games.

Seems that GoG has it mostly done right despite being a smaller store.
 
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Graciaus

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Looks like Steam need to curate their stores now and let go of the crap, on top of making the Platform more viable for higher quality developed games.

Seems that GoG has it mostly done right despite being a smaller store.
No. Crap to you is not necessarily crap to me and vice versa. Ignore a game or ignore a tag in general if you don't like something.

Steam could use a better system of searching for games. But it has improved a lot.
 
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Rya.Reisender

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If I understand correctly, he is trying to argue here that demand for indie games is somewhat inelastic (i.e. the price doesn't affect sales numbers) so they could increase in price, selling the same number of units and making more money:
For me that's a more interesting discussion than steam sales numbers.

I guess if I really am looking forward to an indie game, I would easily pay a full game's price for it.
Sometimes it seems weird when an indie game costs $10 only at release day when I wouldn't even have hesitated buying it at $40.

Also funny to note is that I seem to be strongly influenced by discount%. Like when I'm not sure if an indie game is for me I put it on a wishlist. Then when I think the discount% is high enough, I buy it. Strangely I'm more likely to buy a $30 game at 70% discount than a $10 game at 30% discount, because saving $21 seems to be the much better deal than saving $3 only (what's the point?). So a higher base price might actually make me more likely to buy the game during a sale.

On the other hand I've seen many people who didn't buy Lost Sphear because they thought $50 is too expensive for it. Even gave it negative reviews without having even played it because how dare them ask $50 for a non-AAA game. Needless to say, I also bought this game for the full price without hesitating.

Guess it depends a bit on the person. I don't have to struggle with having enough money for food and stuff and I'm also a game designer myself, so maybe that's why I don't hesitate supporting developers.

Sometimes paying full price frustrates me later on, but that's mostly because of the comparison with other games. Like two indie games release. One for $10 and one for $25. Both look like I'd enjoy them so I buy both. The game for $25 I end up not liking and quit it very early. But the game for $10 gets me completely addicted and I put thousands of hours into it. That really gives me this weird frustrating feeling that the developer of the game I didn't like got more money from me than the developer who made my personal game of the year.

Sometimes I wish I could pay for games after being done with them rather than before starting to play. And then determine the price myself. So that the developers I like the most get the most money from me too.
 
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ethomaz

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Looks like Steam need to curate their stores now and let go of the crap, on top of making the Platform more viable for higher quality developed games.

Seems that GoG has it mostly done right despite being a smaller store.
Bingo.

That is something always bad on Steam... they need a curate what they sell... quality over quantity.

They need to drop the revenue share too.
 

Rya.Reisender

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I don't know. Many people complain about GoG's curation seeming so arbitrary.

Also I would rather have games that are somewhat playable available DRM-free rather than only a few selected ones. I mean they don't need to advertise all of them, would just be nice that I could find anything I want to play. Hate the fact that I'm forced to buy games on Steam (well, I don't, but that makes me miss out on many great games).