Introversion Software, the independent UK developer behind Defcon, Darwinia and Multiwinia, nearly went out of business earlier this year following disappointing sales of its XBLA conversion Darwinia+ - and could have done so if not for an injection of revenue from a Steam sale.
That's according to the company's MD, Mark Morris, who revealed to GamesIndustry.biz that he had to let all the staff go and closed the office, with the business reverting to its original line-up of the four directors.
However, after they worked on implementing Steam achievements into Defcon in a bid to get some promotion from the Valve platform, they were amazed at the results.
"The Valve sale - it was just phenomenal," Morris explained. "A couple of statistics that I'm sure Valve won't mind me sharing: We've now sold more than $2.5 million through Steam, which is pretty good for Introversion, through life. Not all of that comes back to us, because sometimes it's been in bundle packs, and we've gotten less. But basically it equates to almost bang on £1 million, so we're really pleased.
"The sale did in the ball park of $250,000 - so when you're back to being a team of four people, that's a lot of revenue."
By comparison he revealed that a promotion for Darwinia+ on XBLA, where the game was Deal of the Week for "about six weeks" at a cut price of 800 points had little impact.
"The needle moved, but not much," he said. "It was interesting as well, because we were around sixth or seventh in their download chart, so comparing the numbers we were seeing at our end... it was interesting, it makes me think that maybe there's a very sharp drop from between the top two and the rest."
Morris, although admitting that working with Valve was sometimes difficult, was clear in his praise for the platform.
"I'd go so far as to say that if you're not on Steam, then you're not an indie game developer of any note," he said. "You absolutely have to be on that platform at the moment. Steam doesn't ask for exclusivity, and I know it's hard to get on there - Valve doesn't make it easy - but that's part of the challenge. If you want to run a company you have to find a way of getting your game on there.
"Part of the reason for that is that Valve regularly runs promotions that mean you can really capitalise on your back-catalogue, and you don't have that control with the consoles. Thinks like the iPad and iPhone, I think they're too crowded, and awareness is too difficult.
"And the other thing I'd say is that we've been doing a lot of work on the Introversion website recently, metricating it and putting all the analytics in place - we sell via our own site. I've always said this from the start, and still do - you have to be selling from your own website as well, because you see 99 per cent of every transaction that goes through there, so every piece of marketing that you do links back to your website.
"A regular Steam month is about a fifty-fifty revenue split between Valve and our website, because although the volume isn't anywhere near what they're doing, the money coming through is enough to even it out."
The full interview with Mark Morris is available now.