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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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liamdawe 4 February 2019 at 11:17 am UTC
toojaysI guess we are dependent on the fact that people are doing these ports for love, despite non-existent business cases.
That is often the case from my chats to a great many developers.
scaine 4 February 2019 at 11:34 am UTC
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toojaysWhy 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?

As the article notes, many other developers of similar games (well, indie games, I mean) tend to report much, much higher percentages, usually in the 3-10% region. For example: https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/the-developer-of-rise-to-ruins-has-shared-some-linux-sales-and-players-data.11300, which also links to other examples.

Could just be that when an Indie game becomes truly popular, it's because the Windows AAA crowd has picked it up, so we get squashed back down to the 1% mark. Maia has sold around 100K copies, but that's only a tenth of Slay's sales. Which makes sense when you consider that 4.4% of Maia's 100K would be around 5000 sales, roughly in line with Slay's 0.5% of 1M sales (i.e. 5K), or 2.6% of Rise to Ruins 250K sales (i.e. 6.5K).

[Edit: fix link]


Last edited by scaine at 4 February 2019 at 11:35 am UTC
Pit 4 February 2019 at 11:38 am UTC
theghostA 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.

That's another thing. Most people here care more about gaming than about linux. I.e., they rather use windows/wine/proton than not playing a game. So such a step from Valve is sort-of logical.
I just note that this is not going to increase the linux count (unless Steam has a mechanism to count games played via proton as 'linux' and/or pushes developers to make sure their game runs fine with it, and give the support for that). And it won't increase the number of native Linux titles either - on the contrary, as has already been shown by titles revoking the native port in favor of proton.

QuoteEven if this doesn't increase user base, it benefits Linux users, which is good thing.

Well, some Linux users. I personally benefit neither from steam nor from proton....
Ehvis 4 February 2019 at 11:42 am UTC
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Basically the numbers say that Slay the Spire only attracted 0.3% of the Linux people on Steam. Which, considering the high quality of this game, seems like a rather low number indeed. This is roughly confirmed by the lower than average ownership in my Steam friends list.

So it seems that this game doesn't appeal to Linux users as much as others do. I can't quite put my finger on the "why" though.
Klaas 4 February 2019 at 11:48 am UTC
I have not bought the game because it is priced above my “I'm willing to buy a Steam version” price point which is about 8 €.

If the game was released on Itch or GOG I would buy it ASAP, although I'm still not convinced that I would enjoy it more than Dicey Dungeons which is somewhat similar and seems to offer a little more control for the player.
liamdawe 4 February 2019 at 11:54 am UTC
Pit
theghostA 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.

That's another thing. Most people here care more about gaming than about linux. I.e., they rather use windows/wine/proton than not playing a game. So such a step from Valve is sort-of logical.
I just note that this is not going to increase the linux count (unless Steam has a mechanism to count games played via proton as 'linux' and/or pushes developers to make sure their game runs fine with it, and give the support for that). And it won't increase the number of native Linux titles either - on the contrary, as has already been shown by titles revoking the native port in favor of proton.

QuoteEven if this doesn't increase user base, it benefits Linux users, which is good thing.

Well, some Linux users. I personally benefit neither from steam nor from proton....
It was confirmed from the first day by Valve to me, that Steam Play sales count as Linux. See the bottom update here.

And to be clear, the number of titles removing native support in favour of Proton you can count on one hand and that's over the course of five months.


Last edited by liamdawe at 4 February 2019 at 11:55 am UTC
theghost 4 February 2019 at 12:09 pm UTC
PitWell, some Linux users. I personally benefit neither from steam nor from proton....

But you might use Wine or the SDL as well?
Maybe your using RADV/ANV, Mesa or Vulkan?
If so, you also benefit from Valve's work for Proton.
pb 4 February 2019 at 12:18 pm UTC
EhvisBasically the numbers say that Slay the Spire only attracted 0.3% of the Linux people on Steam. Which, considering the high quality of this game, seems like a rather low number indeed. This is roughly confirmed by the lower than average ownership in my Steam friends list.

So it seems that this game doesn't appeal to Linux users as much as others do. I can't quite put my finger on the "why" though.

The game looks good, but there is no way I'm paying $25 for it. Also, computer card games might be a niche that just happens to be sparsely populated by Linux players due to the fact that we don't have many of these available natively.


Last edited by pb at 4 February 2019 at 12:20 pm UTC
cbones 4 February 2019 at 12:27 pm UTC
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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

Unfortunately, they are not. I asked a developer friend (just yesterday I finally got an answer) and Steamworks shows very little information about keys. Apparently, just total activation and geographic spread of those activations.
Dunc 4 February 2019 at 12:40 pm UTC
I think in the past, publishers probably got a disproportionate sales boost from a Linux version. It still might not have been huge, but it would be more than our overall market share might suggest because, with so few games available to us, a larger proportion of us would buy it than Windows or Mac users. But I expect that's not the case any more, especially since Proton. It shouldn't really be a surprise to see sales falling back.

And let's not forget that because we're still a very small market, it's fair to assume that, as a group, we have different tastes to the mainstream. Some games will sell better on Linux than others, relative to other platforms.

EhvisSo it seems that this game doesn't appeal to Linux users as much as others do. I can't quite put my finger on the "why" though.
Precisely my point. I'd actually have expected it to be a fairly “Linux-ey” game. But that's just because it seems quite geeky. Maybe it's actually the opposite, and we Linux types like to escape from nerd-dom in our gaming.
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