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Details on how Slay the Spire sold on Linux plus some thoughts

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In the past, I've spoken to many developers about how their games sold on Linux and this time we have information on Slay the Spire to share.

First, we need to take into account that according to the Steam Hardware Survey that Linux only currently represents around 0.82% of the Steam market. Also, this is only on Steam and so it's not counting Humble Store where it's also sold.

Here's the breakdown the developer provided:

95.5% - Windows
4% - Mac
0.5% - Linux

To me, that's a surprise (the developer was surprised too) as that's quite low even for Linux sales. When doing this before (part 5) it did fluctuate quite a lot between 0.6% up to highs of around 16% (although that was a rare one with FLASHOUT 2 in Part 3).

Obviously a big part of the problem is just how many games there are now across all platforms. Even just on Linux, Steam has somewhere in the region of 5,426 games available and that's not taking into account all the bigger titles that can now be played thanks to Steam Play.

Competition is hotter than ever and being a smaller platform, it isn't obviously helping. It's basically the same story as it always has been—increasing our market share somehow is the only thing that will help. The uphill battle remains and will do for a long time, the important thing is to continue to make sure we're worth the time for the developers who do support Linux. Be helpful when issues arise, put up a review for a game you enjoy, tell those developers you enjoyed it on Linux and so on you get the idea.

Slay the Spire is a popular indie game, one with an "Overwhelmingly Positive" user rating from over 20,000 user reviews and it definitely deserves your attention. It's stolen a lot of time away from me personally, it's fantastic.

You can find Slay the Spire on Humble Store and Steam if you wish to pick up a copy.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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38 comments
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trawz 4 February 2019 at 10:04 am UTC
I would've expected higher than 0.82%. To me it seems a lot of Linux gamers are attracted to smaller indie games like Slay the Spire.
TheSHEEEP 4 February 2019 at 10:08 am UTC
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I remember having serious windowing issues with this game on linux and wasn't the only one.
However, that wouldn't really a share THIS low. Hmm.

Bit of a curiosity given other devs reporting higher numbers.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP at 4 February 2019 at 10:09 am UTC
Pit 4 February 2019 at 10:20 am UTC
QuoteIt's basically the same story as it always has been—increasing our market share somehow is the only thing that will help.

And you really think promoting playing Windows games via Proton works in that direction?
Liam Dawe 4 February 2019 at 10:23 am UTC
Pit
QuoteIt's basically the same story as it always has been—increasing our market share somehow is the only thing that will help.

And you really think promoting playing Windows games via Proton works in that direction?
Increasing users is not a black and white "native or bust" approach.
theghost 4 February 2019 at 10:25 am UTC
To my mind it's not necessarily a Steam issue that the user base isn't growing.
The Linux desktops have so many issues: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Linux-Desktop-Issues-2018
Even Ubuntu is far from beeing user-friendly as lot of thing won't work or could be improved.
theghost 4 February 2019 at 10:33 am UTC
Pit
QuoteIt's basically the same story as it always has been—increasing our market share somehow is the only thing that will help.

And you really think promoting playing Windows games via Proton works in that direction?

A lot of Linux people are used Wine anyway before Proton to play their Windows games on Linux via Steam.
Also a lot of people requested and wished a Wine friendly integration into Linux Steam.
It's a good thing for all sides. User can easily run non-native games without Wine tinkering. Valve binds users even more to their platform. Valve supports Wine / driver development. Valve maintains a whitelist for Proton games which (hopefully) includes a lot of game testing.
Even if this doesn't increase user base, it benefits Linux users, which is good thing.
Erzfeind 4 February 2019 at 10:35 am UTC
Maybe many Linux users just bought the game via Humble Store (like myself).
Liam Dawe 4 February 2019 at 10:42 am UTC
ErzfeindMaybe many Linux users just bought the game via Humble Store (like myself).
Honestly, I've never had a developer tell me Humble sales have been in any way noteworthy (most say it earns hardly anything). Still, good option to have though.
please_use_plain_text 4 February 2019 at 10:43 am UTC
QuoteAlso, this is only on Steam and so it's not counting Humble Store where it's also sold.
That makes me wonder how a Steam key activation is counted
toojays 4 February 2019 at 11:09 am UTC
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Why were they surprised? What were they expecting, and why? These numbers are very close to the Steam hardware survey. Surely a very popular cross-platform game with low system requirements should more-or-less mirror the state of the market?

It is kinda sad when you try and figure out absolute numbers. Steamspy estimates Slay the Spire has sold 1-2M copies. So at 0.5% for Linux, that's only 5000 Linux players. Wow, it's almost as though they did the port just for me!

Another way to look at it is that the port (including QA & support) needs to cost less than about $35k (minimum sales price of $10, devs keep 70%, 5000 copies) for it to have paid for itself. I keep thinking I must have screwed up my arithmetic somewhere, those numbers are so low. But no. If someone only plans to sell 100,000 copies total, how do you justify the work to support the 500 buyers of a native Linux build? And yet something like 80/100 games in my library have native Linux versions. I guess we are dependent on the fact that people are doing these ports for love, despite non-existent business cases.


This is a great game though, highly recommended. It's also suitable for playing one-handled while cradling a sleeping baby, and on that basis I've spent more hours with this than any other game in the last few weeks (mostly at 4am ).


Last edited by toojays at 4 February 2019 at 11:10 am UTC
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