Valve: More and More Games Are Finding Success on Steam Each Year


Valve published a new report a few hours ago which details the increasing number of games that are achieving success (according to certain earnings benchmarks detailed below) on Steam each passing year.

It is an interesting study that also works as a sort of counterargument for those who are convinced that too many indie games are getting drowned in the massive amount of monthly game releases on the platform. Valve clearly feels differently, and they have taken this chance to highlight how exactly opening the gates of Steam in August 2013 enabled many more games to find success.

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Before 2012 Valve actually handpicked the games that would make it on Steam. Then they introduced the Greenlight program, now discontinued as well in favor of Steam Direct.

As a first pass, we tallied the number of games earning over USD$10,000 in the first two weeks after release each year. For reference, most recent games earning around $10,000 in the first two weeks earned between $20,000 and $60,000 over the course of 12 months following release. We looked at the first two weeks of earnings to give even weight to games released across the year, and because initial earnings are a key metric that we hear many developers using in conversation.

As the graph shows, the number of games meeting this success measure has increased pretty consistently over time, with an 18% increase in 2019 compared to 2018. That increase wasn't just due to a larger number of games on the platform - the proportion of games meeting success increased by 11% in 2019.

You may also notice a jump on the graph between 2013 and 2014. That reflects the increase in the number of games we accepted to Steam beginning in August 2013. Many of these games weren't immediately ready for release, so the effect of that increase only really shows up in 2014. By 2019, more than three times as many new releases met the $10k benchmark than in 2013.

We found that the median game released in 2019 earned 24% more during its first two weeks of sales than the median release in 2018.

Next, we looked at percentiles other than the median. Here, the news was more mixed. On the upside, the 75th percentile release (meaning the release earning more than 75% of new releases in each year, but less than 25% of new releases) earned 56% more in its first two weeks in 2019 vs. 2018. However, the 25th percentile release earned 17% less.

More generally, we found that releases above the 35th percentile earned more money in 2019 vs. 2018, and releases below the 35th percentile earned less.

How do you feel about Steam? Are there too many games on the platform or not? Let us know in the comments.