Any real data on Steam sales?

As JC said, if you really want to know the numbers pull the last 50 - 100 games (premium, not including DLCs and free games) by going to Browse ALL Games (not just top sellers) and noting down the names of every game. Mark down the price too.

Then go to and look them up / input the value. Keep in mind that this number INCLUDES free copies given away. If you multiply the owned copies by the price then *.7 (30% to Steam) you’ll get the maximum each game could have made. I then suggest dividing it by at least 2 to compensate for discounts / gift versions / safety :slight_smile:

The results wont be pretty, but you’re likely to come across at least a couple winners!

SteamSpy also ignores the $0.50 game bundles and promotional keys activations. They affect a LOT the average income you expect from those numbers too.

I don’t think that indie game developers should use mainstream metrics to determine their success.

When huge game studios spend huge bucks they expect, and perhaps have a right to expect, huge sales.

A game made by a few people is unlikely to be astronomically successful. It’s possible, but the odds are against it.

I would suggest that an indie game’s success should be measured by answering the following questions:

Was making the game a good experience for you?
Do people enjoy your game?
Did you make money at it? (Not a lot, just a profit.)

If you can answer yes to all of those questions then I would consider you game a success. Comparisons to other games sales is irrelevant.

Well the numbers say that only about 10% of games is usually considered as box office successful so the question has to be asked what does the other 90% do when they fail to meant their own expectations?

Since this number always seems to be static I’m assuming that a large percentage figure they just don’t have what it takes to be a game designer out right quit while a even smaller percentage as to the numbers of successful games look at it as yet another learning experience of how the nasty free market reacts as to the buy decisions and reasons as to buying your game nested amongst options.

If it is your first game then like all things in life you should expect to fail the first time you go up against the big boys as although you have the skills and experience to make the best game ever all you have is the experiences of making the game and not what it takes as far as marketing goes.

In the end it’s the developer that was once part of the 90% who become part of the 10% for no reason they did not quit and some just get lucky with their Angry Birds. :wink:

At the very least a few bad experiences you do tend to learn a few dirty tricks that at some point you will make box office numbers.

By the way.

If somebody has to live in poverty for game sales to make sense then the industry has a real problem. Personally I feel developers should have restrictions operating outside their own markets. It’s not fair, or possible, for a developer in a rich developed nation to compete with people that have such a low cost of living, not on price alone at least. But that’s the effects of the internet and it ain’t going anywhere. As a business model a coffee shop would make far more sense than a game studio.

The problem is multi-faceted, game engines have cruelly democratized game development without explaining the economics, leading people to assume they can just make a game and cash will follow. The low barrier to entry and low overheads belie the true realities of operating in a heavily congested, highly competitive, B2C entertainment environment. The stores have opened their arms to whatever tosh people want to upload resulting in congestion and poor discovery. In an effort to compete, developers dropped prices until games are now commonly free, with adverts or dlc. Bruno X made some good points, especially regarding games living forever.

This is basic economics, the more competition there is the more margins get squeezed. In other industries you can react quickly to market pressures but with a game that’s in a 6-12 month cycle you aren’t as fortunate. Imagine going to work and only getting paid at the end of the year if your boss not only liked what you’ve done but actually had to notice you in the first place amongst hundreds of other employees. I know it’s not that simplistic.

The mobile stores are a mess and at some point will need a different approach. Steam is going down the same path but at least it’s the community green lighting. There’s also an anti wealth creation feeling and growing sense of entitlement that seems more prevalent the younger somebody is. There’s a large proportion of the so called millennials that have a ‘I expect to have xyz, how ever I want it, for free or very little’ type attitude. We’ve all seen it, the low ratings and complaints because it cost $1 instead of being free, or because they wanted a feature that wasn’t even promised or because a very specific gameplay mechanic wasn’t how they wanted it. Before I carry on let me just slap myself out of this rant.

Back on topic. The question being asked is a good segway in to making a successful game. It’s a business with the same considerations that any business has, and knowing sales figures help. Many game devs have this ‘I just want to make a cool game’ mentality and assume they can slap on some adverts at the end to make money. That doesn’t work.

Well, BrUnO XaVIeR may be a bit harsh but he does have a point - selling your game will very probably make less money than your Photoshop license cost. The overwhelming majority of mobile games don’t make any kind of money ever, and Steam is going down the same road real fast (because that will bring more revenue to Valve) so PC games are less and less likely to make money, let alone be profitable. I don’t see mobile gamers complaining about those thousands of free games, so it’s unlikely a “video game crash” will happen again - they are way too much actors on the market so even if 90% of companies were to go out of business, the app stores would still be overloaded.

It may be new for games, but music, film, paintings are very much like that today. It just comes with being a massive cultural thing that everyone loves. People still make music and films and paintings but they don’t really expect to live off that anymore.

So you can take the safe way, as I do, and have a safe, regular job with enough spare time to work on games. Or take the hard way and try living from your games, which is probably going to be harder, but also more rewarding.

What’s the difference between Greenlight games and “Steam’s frontpage” games anyway? I thought once a game is Greenlit, it becomes a regular Steam store game and is advertised the same way as any else game purchasable on Steam - targeted to users who like similar genres, promoted with temporary discounts, etc.

If you ask me, then there are still to many unfinished, hyped / bad rotten games sold on steam.
Ppl start to read comments before bying, some even think before buying!
So many games out there, only to make cash.
Cash here, cash there, where is the fun?
Boring repetive gameplay ripping / cloning.
Grab function from game x, function from game y, menue from game z and ready is a big seller?
In the past it worked, i hope time will change, not only on this sector.
All these towerdefense games, based on same gametemplate, making me sick…
I spent in my life hum perhaps some thousend € for games and perhaps 25% of them are nice invested.
I still get trapped through good marketing and advertising and always hate, when it happens to me.

Thing is, if you love making games or game systems or assets or whatever… You’ll make it even without the money involved. Nobody should be able to stop you. (neither my negativity :wink: )

But many ppl think they can milk money from game market easily until they publish a first game out there. They aren’t interested in development for the mean of it, they thinks there’s easy money in there. And being frantic and realistic about what you can get from gamedev helps to keep those ppl away, they won’t help the industry maturing anyway. It’s only a matter of realising you can’t make games just because you need/want money; that won’t work, I just help some to realise that faster… I’m not a harsh person or anything like that.

Once your game releases (full version), Steam will give you 1 million banner views. It must sell. If the game gets traction (banner click vs sales), Valve notice strong interest and give you frontpage banner for around a week. This is where you become a millionaire…
If your game didn’t get good sale traction, they still give you million banner (the very small one) prints on Steam’s client; but in spots most ppl don’t even look at. Which, like the other 99% of games, means your game is pretty much dead on week 1 after published. Good luck.

This was mentioned in another thread, +1 recommend it …

Indie Game: The Movie (2012)

Just some thoughts

What you want to know is the return rate. If you spend two years on your dream you will probably know with in the first few hours if you have a successful game. With in 24 hours you could be very well a rich individual. After that more or less you will be into residuals which is not a bad thing if you have more than a few games on steam. Besides knowing how many units was sold on the first day makes the math easier and residual is gravy.

On Steams end they will see that it is not trending and pull the spot. Front page is expensive real-estate.

I mentioned this because if you have never experience the mechanics of marketing what you think will happen could be gone in a single day.

The better option is if you can make the two year project dream game you might want to option going with say developing a half dozen smaller projects and your odds will increase to 6 to 1. Not putting all of your eggs into one basket also increases the return rate potential relative to the time and effort, and expense, you could still profit as amortized against the production costs.

For example.

What I would be interested in is what happened to the other 51 and what are the residuals that could make that many titles a rather nice living.

So as the saying goes even Angry Birds had to pay their dues. :wink:

Just saying.

While that makes sense from a business perspective perhaps, it leads to people making lots of low quality quickly thrown together games. I’m familiar with at least one developer who has made nearly 20 (really bad) games within the last year or so and tried getting them all up on steam and probably making more money off of those than people actually putting in effort to making good games. Their games are generally very cheap and because of that some of them probably sell reasonably well. Most of them have had their data removed from steam spy by now, but maybe a third of them have tens of thousands of sales. They’re sort-of doing nothing inherently wrong, but it’s not necessarily morally correct to try to peddle off rubbish to unsuspecting people.

Well what makes for a good or bad game I’ll leave up to the reviews to spin what their impressions on X named game but making it a moral issue as to the extent of how good a game has to be does and should not play any part what’s so ever as to a decision of what people should or should not buy and I’m against the ideal as an Valve draconian approach of deciding what games make it through via some kind of meaningless vote. What maybe a moral issue is trying to sell a game at AAA prices but Goat Simulator at 3 bucks as a poorly designed game with no end goal is just as fun to play as Microsoft solitaire.

The good news to the Indy developer is the relaxing of the Green Light requirements that for years has been a road block as to access to a marketplace where consumers have the option of deciding what makes for a good game at X price verses a clear abuse as a money grab geared towards those that don’t even do the simple research of checking out what TB or Angry Joe has to say as to game play value as the would with any other consumer purchase.

As always and in all things be it a video game or the food you buy to eat what is rubbish or is of suitable quality based on the human requirement of need and consumers vote with their wallets and even though I’m all about the 4 star steak I’ll be more than happy to eat a Big Mac even though my mother says it’s rubbish. :wink:

In the mean time this developer your familiar with has the experience of what it took to get 20 releases onto Steam and each time learns something new, if he is paying attention, were at release 51 strikes gold with the next great Angry Birds.

Morally and personally I would be more than happy to have worked on a game released at a fait market price that some think is rubbish because if not for the rubbish I enjoy everything would be so much more expensive. :smiley:

Just saying.

It’s sad to see most of the game developers focusing only on how to profit. Is that why you’re making games (or trying)?

What’s wrong with profit? It’s how people say “hay thanks for a great game here’s a few bucks to pay the rent and your children don’t starve”.

That’s why you get all these bad and boring, mindless games.

i didnt mean to be harsh earlier but its true, you have to spend money to make money.
at least the game industry hasnt gone the same way as the music industry (yet)

spotify (i **** in their *** and **** on their **** they are ********* and ****)
are responsible for finding a loophole in the law that means they can legally ‘give away for free’ any artists music without the consent of the artist or record label. and thus there is no money to be made any more from music, so small labels die and the worlds culture suffers. the only ones making money are those with enough money to force feed their sub-standard, re-hashed, mindless, soulless rubbish.

lets pray someone doesn’t find a loophole to give away games for free.

everybody must pays their bills, if you don’t, your are a lucky one.

you are right in some way, a lots of games are on steam that are not AAA titles, but lots of games are from studios that are just starting or growing, how they will get experience to increase their games quality if not that way ? how they will be came out of a garage or a room if they don’t start to sell some game for a low price?

the only way to increase your experience and quality is making games and let the people play it to receive feedback (good, bad, awesome, terribly), any kind of feedback is good to go up one step.

no matter what, i think is the only way.

Bills got nothing to do with games though, just because there’s a service (Steam) and Game engines out there doesn’t mean anyone can make easy money, although few studios do by using other means.

Dishing out “games” for learning and feedback is just absurd.