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Valve put out a 'Data Deep Dive' to show how games are doing on Steam

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This new talkative Valve is certainly welcome, as they continue to do blog posts talking about the Steam ecosystem and how good and bad developers are doing. The latest is a 'Data Deep Dive' which has some interesting information.

Giving a brief bit of history on how Steam was pretty much locked-down until Greenlight launched in 2012, opened up to a lot more indie games and then in 2017 they launched Steam Direct fully opening up Steam to pretty much any developer. Since then, obviously, Steam has exploded in size.

Even with Steam having so many thousands of games now, according to Valve more "new releases than ever are finding success". Showing the below graph:

So, we can see that more games than ever are hitting at least $10K in the first two weeks. Valve say that most recent games that hit this amount actually go onto earning "between $20,000 and $60,000 over the course of 12 months following release".

That sounds nice but it's not really that much over an entire year (especially for more than one person). Valve also didn't mention where their 30% cut comes into play with this. However, also to note is that Valve looked at other earning points too including $5K, $50K, $100K and $250K with it all being a similar story as you can see (research notes):

A lot of this is attributed to Valve opening Steam up, as they mentioned in the blog post. The dotted line above, Valve said is to show their estimate of how it would have looked if they hadn't increased the quantity of games accepted onto Steam. They said they can't be certain on this but "we think the green portions of the bars above the dashed line are, largely, games that would never have previously found success on Steam... because they never would have been released on the platform at all".

This still doesn't mean launching on Steam will be an instant or guaranteed success, as Steam grows there's clearly more games than ever also not reaching even $5K in the first two weeks. In Valve's own graph in their research notes, they showed approximately 1,450 titles hitting $5K in the first two weeks in 2019 but when you look at how many titles released in 2019 it means the vast majority didn't even hit that. This is debatable on how bad that actually is in reality, since even on Linux which is a niche platform on Steam there's a large amount of very quickly made "filler" games released every year.

Since this is largely focused on the first two weeks, there's a lot it doesn't take into account. There's games that will find success later, a small amount for a solo or hobbyist developer could be taken as a nice success and so on.

Valve do also mention that most "games did better in 2019 vs 2018" and they go over median earnings and some different percentiles which give more of a mixed figure. You can see the full post here.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial, Steam
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7 comments

Dunc 8 April 2020 at 11:36 am UTC
Quoteas Steam grows there's clearly more games than ever also not reaching even $5K in the first two weeks.
It would be interesting to see the proportion of games that reach certain thresholds, and whether that's grown or shrunk over the years (rather than just between 2018 and '19, which they do talk about to some extent). Although, to be fair to Valve, it's kind of beside the point, which is a perfectly valid one: these are games (and therefore developers and publishers) which wouldn't have made any money at all on Steam prior to them opening it up.
kuhpunkt 8 April 2020 at 2:17 pm UTC
There is just too much content out there. Thousands and thousands of bands on bandcamp and spotify, thousands and thousands of hours of movies and TV and Netflix and Amazon, thousands and thousands of games across all platforms.

It's hard to be successful, no matter what.
Kimyrielle 8 April 2020 at 3:47 pm UTC
kuhpunktThere is just too much content out there. Thousands and thousands of bands on bandcamp and spotify, thousands and thousands of hours of movies and TV and Netflix and Amazon, thousands and thousands of games across all platforms.

It's hard to be successful, no matter what.

I really boils down to creative professions being much more desirable and satisfying than pretty much anything we can do for a living. Let's face it, people rather paint, sing and write than drive garbage trucks or sit in meetings led by pointy-haired bosses. This is in the end why it's so hard to make a living from creative work - there are just too many people out there doing the same.
Hamish 8 April 2020 at 4:11 pm UTC
KimyrielleI really boils down to creative professions being much more desirable and satisfying than pretty much anything we can do for a living. Let's face it, people rather paint, sing and write than drive garbage trucks or sit in meetings led by pointy-haired bosses.
You can drive a garbage truck creatively. You might break a few traffic ordinances though.
Philadelphus 9 April 2020 at 8:48 am UTC
KimyrielleI really boils down to creative professions being much more desirable and satisfying than pretty much anything we can do for a living. Let's face it, people rather paint, sing and write than drive garbage trucks or sit in meetings led by pointy-haired bosses. This is in the end why it's so hard to make a living from creative work - there are just too many people out there doing the same.
And ironically, I think some of that comes from the ease with which it's possible to advertise and distribute your work now. Which makes it sort of a vicious cycle: more people see other people achieving fame and fortune via some new way of distributing their creative work, so they get into it, some fraction of them achieve success which gets more people into it, etc., all of which drives down the perceived value (in aggregate) of any single person's work and makes it harder to find the people who actually care about it specifically.
Mountain Man 9 April 2020 at 4:52 pm UTC
Kimyrielle
kuhpunktThere is just too much content out there. Thousands and thousands of bands on bandcamp and spotify, thousands and thousands of hours of movies and TV and Netflix and Amazon, thousands and thousands of games across all platforms.

It's hard to be successful, no matter what.

I really boils down to creative professions being much more desirable and satisfying than pretty much anything we can do for a living. Let's face it, people rather paint, sing and write than drive garbage trucks or sit in meetings led by pointy-haired bosses. This is in the end why it's so hard to make a living from creative work - there are just too many people out there doing the same.
The irony, of course, is that it's the garbage truck drivers, janitors, and lunch ladies who retire early as millionaires while the "starving artists" continue to starve. Those "undesirable" blue collar jobs tend to pay very well, and there's not a lot of competition for them because most people look down on such occupations.
The_Aquabat 11 April 2020 at 5:11 am UTC
No surprise here...gaming revenue is increasing heavily even in developing countries like mine, and we have been in recession for over two years the GDP has shrunk, (for several years now), but still gaming is one of those few industries that keeps generating more revenue year to year, despite that.
I really hope that with this pandemia, gaming industry revenue stays the same at least, we know that there is a huge boom on concurrent players, but not sure about earnings? maybe all those players are just playing free games.
People still need to entertain themselves, perhaps the money they save not going out to dinner or not going on vacation they'll spend on gaming.


Last edited by The_Aquabat on 11 April 2020 at 5:19 am UTC
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