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Average Steam game sales plummeting - Steam Spy

Storefront tracker says top games sell as well as ever, but the rest of the ever-expanding catalog languishes

The Steam store has just as many happy endings for developers as ever, but an ever-increasing number of sadder stories, if the latest Steam Spy figures are anything to go by. With the storefront tracking site having recently completed its first year of existence, creator Sergey Galyonkin took to Twitter this week to share some year-over-year findings.

Galyonkin compared sales of all games on Steam from April 2015 and April 2016, finding that while the number of games offered on the storefront had increased significantly, the number of copies sold wasn't increasing in step. Last April, the average number of copies sold per game was 13,655. This April, it's been 7,188. A median game on Steam now has 21,000 owners, whereas a year ago that number was 32,000.

As alarming as those numbers might be at first glance, Galyonkin emphasized that they weren't evidence of market saturation or an indiepocalypse. While the same trends could be seen in games with the "indie" tag, the successful indie titles appear to be doing as well as ever. Galyonkin noted that the 10th best-selling indie game a year ago sold 104,000 copies in April. This year, the 10th best-selling indie game had sold 102,000 copies.

Galyonkin provided a little more commentary on his findings in a post on Steam Spy's Patreon page, saying, "As you'd probably expect, we saw a lot of new games released since the last year, and they've skewed the numbers toward lower sales. But the distribution of sales remains pretty much the same with some minor increase in lower sales and minor decrease in the middle. Or, in layman terms: we've got a lot of new bad-selling games on Steam, but it didn't affect the top games, which still sell pretty well."

Latest comments (3)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic A year ago
Sooooo.... The news is, is that there's no news. Excellent! :D

I mean, that's sarcasm, yeah, but I fail to see what is actually relevant here. More bad-selling games, sure, but there's more games on Steam overall, so it would only make sense that there's more in both the lower-end of sales, as well as the higher-end (Stardew Valley is now over a million, for instance).
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James Barnard Founder / Developer, SpringloadedA year ago
I think the point is that the number of top selling games has remained consistent, while the number of bad selling games has increased. Hence the lower averages over all
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic A year ago
Ohhhh, I see...

Well, maybe it's because I use Steam a lot (and use the Discovery Queue, too!), but it seems to me that there's a larger quantity of Bad/Average/Mixed games (based on user reviews) than there were last year? So that would make sense. Though my perception may be off, on this?

Also, let's remember that SteamSpy measures owners, not sales. So things like the constant weekly bundles by Bundlestars/Indiegala/DIG, which can contain upto 12 lower-priced indie titles, are going to skew data points wildly. It wouldn't surprise me if the majority of some indie title's sales hail directly from a bundle or two. Needless to say, extrapolating revenue from anything that isn't Steam store-front exclusive is literally impossible.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 27th April 2016 10:01pm

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