Aug 072013

Here’s some sales data from Monster Loves You!, the full sales chart, with numbers to-date from-launch.


Let’s look at the individual components here:

  • In mid-March, the game launched to such a tremendous success that my jaw fell off and it changed my life. The game was 15% off at launch.
  • Throughout April, let’s-play and review videos kept making sales bumps; throughout the game was regular price, US$9.99.
  • In May, things calmed down a bit.
  • In early June, a small bump is visible – this is the launch of Steam Trading Cards.
  • The HUGE spike in mid June is a 48 hour featured/banner sale.  This produced more revenue than the launch spike, even though the game was 33% off.
  • In July, the Steam Summer Sale had Monster Loves You! at 40% off, but the game was not featured – you had to search for it specifically to see it. Still, a nice bump in traffic though.

As it stands, the Steam Summer Sale’s tiny blip in revenue there is more revenue than the entire month of May.  The featured sale in June produced more revenue than May through August.

I wish we didn’t live in a culture where “let’s just wait for the sale” was common.  I wish that putting my games on sale didn’t reduce their implicit value.  I hate that I’m locked into this system of ever-increasing discounts, where you can probably guess that at Christmas time the game is going to be half-price (just by plotting my sales trajectory). But…

This is the world we live in.  Getting your game on Steam in the first place can make or break your studio, but once you’re there?  If your game is featured for a sale, that can make-or-break you for a second time.  Choosing not to compete in this system just means that you are walking away from these potential profits, and there is no data suggesting that games that never go on sale make more money in the long run.

So I embrace it. I love the sales. It becomes an event, for me here — staring at my dashboard, watching the charts and graphs rise and fall, me waving my hands in the air as if I’m on a roller-coaster. It’s great!

More important than the money, though, is the simple fact that more people are playing my game.  Each time there’s a sale, there’s a slight bump in Steam Forum traffic.  New people discovering the game, laughing, smiling, and getting all the inside jokes.  That’s the important bit right there — validation for work done.  It’s not just people buying a game because it’s cheap, it’s me exposing a great game to people that otherwise would have missed it entirely.


  4 Responses to “Why Steam sales are important”

Comments (4)
  1. The difference between a featured sale and a non-featured sale is absolutely insanity. It’s so hard to get one of those featured slots during any of their sales, especially when Skyrim takes up like 5 slots just by itself, haha

    • It’s SUCH a huge difference! I wish I had data on what it was like to be “mini-featured” (like, in the small boxes to the side/under the big banner features), but I haven’t been in there yet. I’ve been lucky to have a good contact at Steam that believes in the game. :)

  2. To me, sales are part of how we perceive value as human being, so you’ve got to play with that indeed.

    What troubles me more however is the importance of the gatekeepers (Google, Steam, Apple) and their feature spots. Is it unrealistic to say that, as indies, getting featured is pretty much the only way to make a good buck on a game? Even if that is not exclusively true, it remains a huge part of a success story.

    Having that power in the hand of only a few companies or even individuals at each companies is scary. Do their incentives align with ours? For how long?

    Enough dark thoughts: thanks for sharing all this with the world.


    • Yeah, that is troubling.. I guess I just don’t know what the alternative is, other than removing featured spots…

      I think GabeN’s idea of distributed steam platforms is amazing and good, if it ever happens.

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