How that game sold on Steam, using the 'NB number'.

Graphs are included, please keep up at home.

[Hi, I’m ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

So, here we go - it’s the results of this newsletter’s gigantic dev survey on how many sales per review Steam games have. And before I present the results, just wanted to make sure we were on the same page about why it’s important, and what the numbers mean.

Why do we care about sales/reviews ratios?

It goes like this: we would love to know roughly how many copies of games are sold on Steam, for comparison and planning reasons when we make games. That data is not public. But the number of player reviews is public. So historically, there’s been the Boxleiter number, most recently updated by Jake Birkett in 2018.

So what I’m going to call these new results is ‘the NB number’, or New Boxleiter number (hi Mike Boxleiter, whom this is named after, btw!) And it turns out these numbers - we now have data per year - have indeed been changing quite a bit.

As I noted in my original call for data, Steam introduced a ‘would you like to review this?’ button (shown below) at the end of October 2019. This turns up sometimes when you’ve played a game for more than 2-3 hours and haven’t reviewed it yet:

This has led to lots more reviews of older games. And has definitely changed things for games launching after this UI tweak. So let’s get to it.

Introducing.. the actual ‘NB number’ dataset!

Starting out, here’s a sweep of all the data I got. Note that I did remove a handful (10-ish) of outlying data points - mainly from F2P games that had very high review/sales ratios because they were free to download, and a couple of incomplete submissions.

So over the 237 (!) non-outlying Steam games that submitted data to us, it’s an ‘NB number’ average of 63 sales per review, and a median of 58 sales per review. Thus, if you’re looking at a Steam game of indeterminate age, that’s the kind of lens you can put on it.

The middle 80% of the sample is roughly between 25 and 100 sales per review, so that’s a good range to consider, if you’re not looking at year of launch so closely.

(BTW, if we go back to Jake Birkett’s survey data from 2018, the numbers were quite a bit higher - 82 sales per review as an average, and a median of 77 sales per review. So it’s definitely been coming down, as more people are encouraged to review games by Steam - and even before then.)

Regarding year of launch, we can see that there’s a pretty large difference in average/median sales per review, depending on when a game launched:

So if you launched your game before 2017, you still have an ‘NB number’ average of 81 sales per review and a median of 74 sales per review. But if you launched your game in 2019, when that significant change occurred, you have an ‘NB number’ average of 57 sales per review and a median of 51 sales per review.

And most pertinently, if you launched your game in 2020, you have an ‘NB number’ average of 41 sales per review and a median of 38 sales per review. And it seems like the current non-outlier range is between 20 and 60 sales per review - for a game launching from scratch this year.

Since many of us care about the present day, here’s the data set of ‘sales per review’ purely for games launching in 2020:

In many ways, don’t forget, more reviews is good for games, since a prospective player can see more feedback. BTW, the average Steam review score of those responding was 84% positive, and the median was 89% positive.

There was no major review positivity difference I could see after the ‘review prompt’ was added. I may put out some bonus graphs around review score and copies sold in subsequent newsletters, since there were a couple of interesting trends to highlight.

Before and after review prompts…

Just to reinforce why looking at review/sales ratios per year is important, Erik Rydeman from Clone Drone in the Danger Zone dev Doborog pinged me as I was prepping this newsletter, and said:

“I think you're absolutely right to take the changes with Steam encouraging reviews into account. Our lifetime sale/review ratio is 30, but looking at the range from only this year it's 14. Looking at 2017-2019 it's 67. Spot the point where Steam changed their UI!”

And wow, he’s right! I checked some other games that I have access to sales data on, and I think Clone Drone is a bit of an outlier.

It’s great, has repeat players, and thus had a lot of folks who had never got round to reviewing it, but were still playing. Nonetheless, Erik’s game is ‘catching up’ on reviews from people who bought a long time ago, thus the super low NB number in 2020 alone.

But the effect can be there, if less pronounced, with most Steam games that had been live for a while by October 2019. (Some exceptions exist - if your game is ‘one and done’ and older purchasers played through it once, even a high selling title won’t have got extra reviews from the reminders. New players will still get prompted, of course.)

Conclusion: do your math(s) right!

Anyhow, that’s your data! Hope you find it helpful. Before we conclude, just a reminder, in the classic ‘jumping to conclusions about if devs are millionaires or not’ fashion.

If you think a game has sold 20,000 copies using the NB number, and you want to work out how much money that title made, please don’t multiply that by its regular Steam USD store price and think that’s the money received in the dev’s pocket.

You’ve got to factor in average ‘regular’ price on Steam, how much and how often the game was on sale, and then after the money comes in, Steam platform cut, refunds, and VAT before you even get close to working out the real number. (Realistically, that’s 30%-50% of the ‘optimistic’ gross number, and potentially way less, if discounting is aggressive.)

Video games, eh? But we still all like playing them.

Take care until next time,
Simon.

Has your game got 'juice'? (& more!)

With a billion other Discoverabilityland things to round up...

[Hi, I’m ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

Welcome to the new subscribers that joined Game Discoverability Now! since the last newsletter! (And all of you old fogies, of course.) This is the latest edition of the Game Discoverabilityland round-up, where I look at multiple subjects in one giant missive.

And let’s start out with something a bit different - a musing on the essential discoverability of certain games:

‘Juice’ it to win it!

This week on Twitter, I was remarking on the success of Townscaper, the experimental citybuilding toy/game that’s already racked up 3,000 Steam reviews in a short amount of time.

One thing I was taken with is how ‘juicy’ the gameplay feels, even when you just see a brief clip for a few seconds. Click around this ‘Let’s Play’ video to see what I mean:

Sure, some of the appeal of Townscaper is the super-clever way it connects in-game models as you build multi-stage houses and street layouts, and the smart way it fills in the ‘gaps’.

But it also has an immense sense of game feel. There’s little showers of dust as you add a building storey, subtle morphing of new objects with FX as they get added, etc. It ticks all the ‘feel good’ boxes, even when watching it.

A lot of this good feeling is related to polish, juice and game feel. So if you’re not as familiar as you could be, check out this video from Petri Purho (Noita) and Martin Jonasson (Holedown) for a great starting point:

There’s actually a lot of other YouTube videos on this general subject. But I thought this Game Maker’s Toolkit piece is a good overview of the overall concept:

When I think of recent games killing it on the ‘game feel’ side of thing - both playing and watching - I think of titles like Carrion (such satisfying controls) or even Gunfire Reborn (its FX and ‘juice’ really sell it.)

Even super-minimal games like the upcoming Qomp (you’re a ball from Pong, escape! I really dig this concept) benefit from the visceral feel of ‘juice’ in FX, screenshake, morphing, and so on. And yes, this concept counts as discoverability too, because it makes your game inherently more attractive. So think about it a little bit…

Follow-up: the game value war to come?

Thanks to everyone who read or commented on my ‘game platforms & subscriptions / giveaways’ piece from earlier this week. In particular, thanks to former BioShock and BioShock Infinite design lead Bill Gardner for pointing me to an editorial he wrote for IGN back in 2018 called ‘What's the Real Value of a Video Game?’

Gardner’s piece was prompted by the original emergence of Xbox Game Pass, and asks a similar question as me: “While we should all be psyched at the prospect of being able to play more games, we all need to be asking what kind of games we’ll be left with – what kind of an industry will remain if we keep conditioning gamers that games no longer have value?”

Of course, that was written almost two and a half years ago, and I would say things are only marginally worse. (Perhaps it’s got harder to charge $60 for a game since then?)

And then I saw this story about Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg noting re: Xbox Game Pass: “You can either say, 'How we do get as much profit out of each customer?' Or, do you pivot that opposite and say, 'How do we add as much value to our fans?' 'How can we actually over-deliver on value?' And if you do that, you build fans for life.”

This shows what a PR win Game Pass has become for Microsoft as a platform. ‘High value to fans’ means that players are transferring some of their positive feelings to the platform that’s providing them the bundled value, rather than individual developers.

Xbox’s new strategy is gradually replacing the hardware middleman - the traditional console value proposition - with a platform-agnostic software bundling middleman. And I still don’t know how I feel about that, from a regular game publisher/developer perspective.

Finally, Seth Schiesel just wrote an excellent piece for Protocol on the differences between Sony and Microsoft’s approaches to next-gen video games, subscriptions, etc. I suggest you read it for additional context on why Sony’s hardware unit lead still makes them the company to beat in the high-end console game space.

Other good stuff…

Listen, there’s a lot more useful information to get through here. So let’s put our foot on the accelerator and see if we can blast through it all in a reasonable timeframe. Here goes:

  • New (incoming) platform feature on Steam: it’s a ‘play test’ button players can use for Beta versions, which should be very handy. And on the other side of the aisle, new Epic Games Store platform alert - it’s achievements! (Oh, and bonus: Steam’s top games for June were dominated by Electronic Arts releases due to their new-to-platform game dump.)

  • Thought it was interesting to see Mediatonic/Devolver’s Fall Guys as one of the two free PlayStation Plus games for PS4 in August. It’s been fairly rare to see a brand new title as a PS+ ‘giveaway’. Not sure if this is just opportunistic, or a change of tactics on the Sony side (as a partial reaction to Game Pass).

  • Haven’t talked about EA’s PC Origin client/subscription service that much in this newsletter. But there’s a new Beta client rolling out if you’re a Origin Access Premier member. Reminder that the store is mainly EA titles, but has some third parties too - the tiers are $30 a year for access to ‘a bunch’ of EA titles and $100 a year for access to basically all EA games released on PC. Of course, separately: EA Access is available on Xbox One and Playstation 4 [and Steam soon!] but is not connected to Origin Access.”

  • ‘Online digital festivals that give you access to a Steam sale’ are a category of virtual events everyone should be keeping an eye on. It looks like Digital Dragons may be the latest, though I don’t know how extensive the Steam feature will be. Hit me up if you find others (paid or unpaid). Bonus: GamesCom’s virtual Indie Arena Booth has announced its 194 devs (!), and the late August virtual event has a pretty unconventional ‘in-world booth’ setup for attendee avatars to wander around. (And don’t forget about GDC Summer next week!)

  • Extreme miscellany: this piece on trends in Steam capsule art is intriguing, am interested to see (in higher-end indie funding news!) Private Division stepping up with League Of Geeks, Roll7 & Moon Studios deals (congrats!). And I’m a little bit obsessed with U.S. baseball using Unreal Engine to create a virtual crowd for TV, in the absence of an actual human audience.

Finally this week, wanted to highlight Derek Lieu’s GameTrailerSpecs.com, which provides all kinds of very specific (and useful!) details on exactly what game consoles, iOS, and Steam/Epic video trailers require in terms of resolution, start and end slates, and more. Things like this:

This is a godsend because there’s a lot of fiddly details (and the console are pretty specific about this type of thing.) So it’s great to have them all in one place. Hurray!

And that’s it for now - see you early next week for more goodness,
Simon.

Are platforms devaluing games to gain market share?

An important discoverability question.

[Hi, I’m ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

This newsletter started because of something I posted off the cuff on Twitter a few weeks ago, related to the Epic Games Store and free game giveaways.

But things evolved, and this article is now about both a) ‘free games’ and backlogs, and b) the stealth rise of the subscription games service. And how perhaps the one you’re not paying attention to is the one that’s going to sneak up behind you?

But it all started here:

My comment was based on the Epic Games Store image at the top of this article. (Three excellent, completely free games, available for 7 days just by logging onto EGS and redeeming.)

In Epic’s defense, having looked at a historical list of free Epic Games Store games, it turns out this ‘3 free games in one week’ is a bit of an anomaly. The Escapists 2 got delayed for technical reasons. (It’s more often two per week - you can see upcoming ones on the EGS ‘free games’ page now.)

Epic’s reason for these giveaways is clear. It’s relatively inexpensive for them, gives devs some extra ‘bonus’ money during their long tail, and increases the amount of people potentially using their platform. (Twitch also does this.)

The Three ‘Game Devaluing’ Schools Of Thought

But, the open question is - are giveaways (and subscription services, more on those later!) creating an environment where video games are being devalued?

Naturally, I got a number of replies to this Tweet. Firstly, there’s the opinion exemplified by Mike Kasprzak (Ludum Dare creator), that these things are absolutely making a difference to his spending:

Secondly, there’s Dylan Holmes’ point of view, which is essentially ‘keep calm and enjoy your backlog’. We impulse download games (or buy them in sales!) a lot, and Epic’s tactics are really nothing new, or much of an escalation:

Thirdly, Mod.io founder Scott Reismanis has a view combining the two, which is basically that ‘massive Steam/Epic backlogs are fine and non-dangerous, but subscriptions might be another story’.

I think I’m with Scott too, after thinking about it for a while. ‘A few free games on X platform’ are not - in themselves - going to make me stop buying new games. Especially if they are slightly older titles, and not in the genre/subgenre that I most adore.

But I do wonder about the rise of the ‘play brand new games on launch for a monthly fee’ subscription service. And right now, nobody is doing subscription service better than Microsoft with Xbox/PC Game Pass and xCloud - partly because Sony and Nintendo are choosing not to seriously* play in the space.

(*Yes, I know PlayStation Now exists. But it’s not a major part of Sony’s next-gen strategy.)

The Game Pass Conundrum

Look, platforms as services are a really big thing right now. Hardware is becoming less well differentiated, and so lots of the world’s biggest companies are finding ways to get people to pay monthly for content across multiple devices. (Not just in video games!)

So, now we have Xbox Game Pass, which had 235 games (!) available as of last weekend. With Microsoft’s new third-party studio acquisition strategy, and debuting all of its first-party games on Game Pass, they’re building a formidable line-up.

Polygon EIC Chris Plante’s brand new (excellent!) ‘week in review’ newsletter, Postgame discusses this in some detail this week. Here’s one part I wanted to extract and expand upon:

“I still have lots of questions about the financials — we don’t necessarily want Game Pass to do to game creators what iTunes and Spotify did to the music industry. And I worry about publicly available sales metrics… But having spoken with a number of indie and studio developers about their opinions of Game Pass, I’m cautiously optimistic.”

We see iTunes/Spotify mentioned quite a bit as a ‘worst case scenario’, and for good reason: $0.0032 per song played is a scary situation, and there’s definitely been significant value destruction for conventional artists in the music biz.

Why It Won’t Be (Exactly) Like Spotify

But thus far, there’s quite a few things stopping Xbox Game Pass (or other subscription services) from caving in revenue in a similar way to Spotify.

Firstly, third-party Game Pass deals are for a limited time (one year, generally) so you’re not permanently in the catalog. Secondly, Xbox is probably 25% or less of total expected revenue for a multi-platform game release. So a Game Pass deal can be seen as ‘replacement revenue’ for the copies you would have sold on that system. Or just ‘free revenue’!

(I believe the pitch is that your overall sales won’t decrease. Right now, Game Pass definitely doesn’t seem to affect Steam sales. And it’s also true that the increased Game Pass visibility can really help games, such as with my No More Robots compadres and Descenders.)

So it’s not like Spotify, which gobbled market share with a completely different model, one that paid fractions of a cent on the dollar. The guaranteed $ of being in Game Pass is just shifting the mix, currently.

If Not Spotify, Then What?

So what’s Game Pass like? Rather than Spotify, I would compare Xbox Game Pass much more to what Amazon has been doing with Amazon Prime Video.

On the one hand, some of the Xbox Game Pass titles from Xbox-owned studios are costing many, many millions of dollars and are wholly owned by Microsoft (think - The Man In The High Castle for Amazon Prime Video.)

On the other hand, many smaller/indie Game Pass titles are getting much less $ than that, but can sell on all other platforms and get a massive distribution/player boost at the same time. (On the Amazon Prime Video side of things, think It Started As A Joke, the new Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival doc.)

This seems a little less scary - a little bit more of a gradual change, with graded payouts for different types of games, right?

Conclusion: Where’s The But?

Here’s the thing. Game Pass is very good. I really like it - and almost everyone I know really likes it. It lets you try out a range of games that you wouldn’t otherwise try, it has excellent quality titles, and it celebrates creativity. Putting all Microsoft first-party games day one on Game Pass is aggressive, but fair enough.

But. Game Pass doesn’t provide enough money on its own - unless Microsoft owns your studio - for game creators to make their game from scratch. It’s inherently somewhat exclusionary, because there are only a limited amount of available Game Pass slots for developers. And it’s training people not to pay standalone for games.

This isn’t a problem now. It probably isn’t a problem in 12-24 months. And the short-term upside from being on Game Pass is great. Yet I wonder.

How many copies of that indie Eugene Mirman documentary have been sold or rented outside of Amazon Prime Video? (I’m guessing almost none.) What percentage of the post-launch revenue for that doc came from Amazon Prime Video? (I’m guessing almost 100%.)

Are we sleepwalking into this situation for the game biz, 5-10 years down the road, when these type of services rule the waves for premium (non-F2P) games, and platform relationships will dictate success?

I really don’t know. And even if it starts heading that way, platforms can say ‘well, nobody would have seen that documentary if it wasn’t on the service, we got all these people to watch it!’ (Or the ‘translated to games’ version of that!)

That’s quite possibly true. But in that direction lies the chilling land of increased market share, platform power, and potentially even platform monopoly. And platform monopolies are NOT my favorite thing, folks.

Take care,
Simon.

Xbox Demo Fest blasts off (& lots more!)

It's a roundup, with plenty of yee-haw and lasso.

[Hi, I’m ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

Welcome to the latest ‘GameDiscoverabilityLand’ round-up, where-in I have a few hundred words to recap everything that happened this week. And I inevitably fail, at least on the brevity side of things.

Before we get started, thanks for the amazing response on the Steam reviews/sales ratio survey. You’ve still got ‘til Friday if you want to submit. But we have 220 (!!) responses so far, so it’s going to be a really robust data set. Anyhow… onward!

Xbox Summer Demo Fest - in full effect!

So the Xbox One’s pre-release demo event is currently running, and hopefully some of you have checked it out. There’s around 60 demos available right now (almost all from indie devs or smaller publishers, with exceptions like Destroy All Humans!)

Thought I’d document where it’s being showcased on the console, starting with the Store tab on the Xbox dashboard (even before you open the Store!)

When you go into the Store app itself, you’ll see it has an entire category to itself, which is decent billing:

Finally, here’s what the Game Fest ‘show all page’ looks like - it actually runs alphabetically, with about 12 leftover ‘second set of alphabetical’ games at the bottom of the page, haha:

Since you can look at how many reviews (in the U.S. Xbox store) each game has, I thought I’d briefly document and link to the Top 5 demos:

1. 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin (is alphabetically first, so that may help downloads.)
2. Skatebird
3. Destroy All Humans!
4. Cris Tales (this game is visually gorgeous!)
5. Haven

If you go by reviews, it looks like the most-played demos have around 10x the plays of the least-played ones so far. So plenty of range in there, for sure. There’s also this chart across all game demos on the Microsoft Store, which has different results, so YMMV.

Anyhow, Xbox Summerfest is a really nice way to dip into games you might otherwise not have heard of. I played (and enjoyed) Dandy Ace, for example, which I didn’t know existed before.

So I can’t believe it’s anything but positive - albeit mildly positive, perhaps - for both players and devs. If you’re in it, tell me what you think of the results. And let’s have it happen once a year for all consoles! *snaps fingers*

Steam Summer Festival - the full results!

So, big shout-out to Chris Zukowski for doing the ultimate write-up of Steam Summer Festival’s results, following my slightly more anecdotal comments on the demo showcase a few roundups ago.

Definitely click through for the full thing, but the topline appears to be, for those demos that participated: “Average number of wishlists [added]: 3218; Median number of wishlists [added]: 500; Most wishlists earned by a single game: 41096 (The Riftbreaker); Fewest wishlists earned by a single game: 40.”

One graph I thought particularly relevant - even beyond the Summer Festival - was Chris’ calculation of median wishlists additions per genre for surveyed games:

This data maps fairly well to the kind of VERY broad game facets that I would recommend people make for Steam - to be commercially successful as a small/medium sized game.

(It’s way more complex than this, of course. And getting deeper into tag comparisons would surface a lot more detail. But it’s a super-useful snapshot of where perceived interest and depth is.)

Other Goodness…

Lawks-a-lordy, we’re most of the way through the newsletter already, and there’s still a hefty chunk of content to talk about. Here’s the best of the rest, in no particular order:

  • Would be remiss not to point out the big Xbox/Series X showcase that happened today . Here’s the text round-up, here’s all the trailers, and ID@Xbox also announced some ‘first to console on Xbox’ indie games which I thought notable for you all. These included titles from Annapurna, Raw Fury, Finji, Curve & more. In general, content & outlook ‘as expected’, though I’ll note Microsoft is pushing Xbox Game Pass hard. (Game Pass Ultimate folks get xCloud cloud gaming bundled in, too, which Stadia may be concerned about.)

  • Got an note from Erik Johnson that he’s been tracking the number of free games in Steam’s New & Trending - that’s the graph, linked - and it still seems to be on the upswing. I did get him to clarify from his data, and of the 777 games in those slots in the past few months, 85 of them were free (either just free, or more likely F2P), and 25 of them were ‘prologues’, i.e. demos. Interesting!

  • Good to see European Union regulations introduced for app stores (but not PC/console game stores, sadly!) around ranking transparency, justification for removal of apps, and more. Not convinced this one is a major game-changer, but government regulation & ‘walled gardens’ are a thing game devs need to pay attention to.

  • Thought it was funny that I was just talking about how good paid DLC is, and then rhythm RPG Cadence Of Hyrule debuted a really robust set of 3 DLC (and ‘season pass’) on Switch. Hey, if even Nintendo (and Brace Yourself Games) can get with the program, maybe we should all be paying some attention?

  • The second Summer Game Fest-themed Day Of The Devs showcase - with musical & Keighley prefaces - took place this week (here’s the video). Once again, I thought iam8bit and crew did an amazing job audio-visually and stylistically. But perhaps the announcements were a bit light this time. Petition to have Guerrilla Collective levels of content, but with Day Of The Devs-style curation & presentation for ‘online E3’ next year, please?

  • An anecdote from the very top end of the ‘games are platforms too’ camp, My former colleague Piers Harding-Rolls notes on Twitter that ‘third party created in Roblox’ game Adopt Me [pictured] “is now at 50m MAUs up from 30m in March. Around a 3rd of total Roblox MAUs are playing Adopt Me… Adopt Me studio aiming for 80-100 staff by year end.” Gosh.

Finally, let’s end out with this excellent data-filled sales blog about “modest indie hit game Curious Expedition”. The folks at Maschinen-Mensch have gone above and beyond on the transparency side of things.

Something I wanted to highlight was the game’s gross revenue curve, year on year, since its 2014 (!) off-Steam launch:

If you go deep into their postmortem, you’ll see all numbers of reasons for this impressive maintenance of revenue. These include a Chinese translation, being more aggressive with discounts in sales, and intelligent additions to the core game.

So - great work, devs, and a reminder that extending the tail on your game is one of the best ways to fund your next game.

Until next time, take care,
Simon.

Your complete 'game discovery' primer

All my best articles so far, in one place!

[Hi, I’m ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

So, having added a bunch of newsletter subscribers recently, I thought this was a good opportunity to look at the year’s worth of content I’ve posted on this newsletter (and also mirrored over on Gamasutra).

I’ve picked out around ten of the most ‘universal’ articles that will stand out in a few months (or maybe years!), and themed them below, so you can pick out any you might have missed:

Steam-Related Tips & Best Practices

Analyzing the top Steam tags
”Nonetheless, there is definitely a recurring theme that games need to be special to stand out on Steam. Sometimes it’s complexity/deepness - or perceived deepness - that really helps.”

Steam's 'Follower' counts - hidden in plain sight.
“On each game’s Steam page is the ability to ‘Follow’ a title to see announcements about it in your Steam Community Activity Feed.”

Steam: the new 'wishlists to first week sales' expectations
”For every wishlist you have when you launch your game on Steam, how many sales can you ‘expect’ at the end of the first week? Here we go…”

Other Platforms/Sales Trends

Game Discoverability & The Nintendo Switch: Where We're At
”This time I’ll talk a little about the state of the Nintendo Switch for game discovery in the year of our Wario 2020. The first part of this newsletter series is on the overall Switch market, & then we’ll dive into trends around specific recent games in Pt. 2.”

Mobile game discovery - why it's tricky for indies
”I think mobile games are super important. But they’re a tough market for many small and medium-sized independent studios to target.”

The surprising way that paid DLC works
“I’ve… found an enthusiastic group of devs who insist that paid DLC is good for business, and good for their games.”

Case Studies

Steam sales case study: 'Academia: School Simulator'
”Many thanks to Ryan Sumo for allowing us to check out lifetime revenues for Squeaky Wheel’s Academia: School Simulator on Steam. [which grossed around $1 million] since its late 2017 launch (up to mid-December 2019).”

iOS/Android/Steam sales case study: Golf Peaks
”So what do we have here? A game that’s sold over 40,000 copies PLUS the Switch version (presumably another 5 figures at least!), which seems like a very creditable result! But… almost all of those copies were sold at $3-$5 each.”

Steam game sales for 'the other 50%'
"[We] speculated wildly that 50%-70% of all Steam games don’t sell more than 1,000 copies during their life time. But we rarely see the back end data regarding them. So here it is [for Bad Logic Studios’ games]”

Overall Strategy

The Five Deadly Sins Of Game Attractiveness
”Here are the top five ‘sins’ that I see from many of today’s indie games. Each of these sins negatively affects your game’s attractiveness and therefore saleability to game publishers (if you want one!) & the game-playing public (if you don’t!)”

Why you may be underpricing your video game
You'd think this was a simple subject, but I'm convinced that at least 50% of all people launching games in 2019 [or 2020!] get it wrong. And the core of the reason is this - you're undervaluing your game.”

Developing Your Game's Community For Maximum Pre-Release Fans
This one is simple but important. It’s aimed more towards small/medium devs than publishers… it’s about how you should develop a fanbase - and increase your game’s discoverability factor - before your game actually comes out.”

——

Hope these were helpful - and there’s a lot more insight readable for free via my official Substack newsletter archive! (I may end up setting up a domain of some kind to host these highlights/FAQs in one place.)

But in the meantime, bookmark this if you need to come back and look at something. Talk to you all more soon - next up, a new GameDiscoverabilityLand round-up!

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