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'What have you learned from the latest Steam sale?'
'What have you learned from the latest Steam sale?'
June 27, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

June 27, 2014 | By Christian Nutt
Comments
    64 comments
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing



Another Steam Summer Sale is upon us, and the service's users have flocked to it, buying deeply discounted games all day, every day, for over a week. It's become a cliche online -- Steam sales mean empty wallets. People buy dozens of games because they're cheap, even if they know they'll never play them.

And that doesn't even consider the current Humble Bundle, running concurrently with Summer Games Done Quick -- just the latest in that site's aggregation of cheap games. The net effect? The most enthusiastic buyers have dozens of fresh, unplayed games.

If our readers are any indication, the increasingly crowded Steam market and the huge numbers of discounted games are having an effect on purchasers.

Earlier today, we asked our Twitter followers: What have you learned from the latest Steam sale? Most of those lessons seem to be hard ones.

There's no doubt that many games -- games that are already popular, most likely -- are benefitting tremendously from the sale. But as has been widely discussed, getting onto Steam is no longer the golden ticket it once was, and that's reflected in these replies.

Do you have any Steam Summer Sale stories? Have you learned any lessons? Share them in the comments below.



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Comments


Fabian Fischer
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I have learned that I'm not interested in 99 % of modern video games, because they're noisy and uninteresting and show no respect to the uniqueness of their own medium.

Kujel Selsuru
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That's because they have become to homognous, the herd can't handle veriety. The suits realized a long time ago that to make the money they want they needed to make games mainstream and that meant killing uniquness in gaming.

Ian Richard
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I also realized that even steam now does everything in it's power to hide anything not popular.

They kept repeating the same sales on the same games instead of showing lesser known games. If I didn't buy Tomb Raider for $5 on day one... then I won't buy it on your Steam Sale for $5 on day two... or your Community sale for $5 on day 3.

Kujel Selsuru
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@Ian Richard: That is a disturbing trend. I never liked Valve or steam and this just gives me more reason to distrust them.

Ian Richard
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I actually do like valve and I love steam. I just felt very underwhelmed this time.

In the past sales, I'd picked up loads of lesser known games for a great price. This time, I felt like they we're pushing only the products that already household names.

This is the perfect time for them to show off how many great games they actually have, but they didn't.

Aaron Oostdijk
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My experience was quite different. I largely ignored the high-profile sales, but I did end up buying like 25 separate games, most of which are indie titles.

Marc Magi
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@ Kujel Selsuru, You're right to your opinion but I think it's unfair. I've been playing video games since the mid 90's and I resisted going on Steam until 2011.

Since then, I've found their DRM to be the least intrusive of any found on optical disks (StarForce/SecuROM) or services (Origin/uPlay). I also like most of their value added offerings. John Carmack commented about 3 months ago that "...for years, the industry thought Valve was nuts... Valve deserves all their success for having the vision and perseverance to see it through to the current state."

Unlike EA, Valve doesn't scan the rest (outside of their games) of your system unless you opt into a hardware survey or participate as a hardware beta candidate. Contrast that to EA's obnoxious EULA.

The current issue that everyone is bemoaning isn't simply Valve's fault. Yes, they dramatically changed how games get Greenlit and they do feature mainly popular games (even when there aren't any Steam Sale events) but when you have too many developers making too many games the choices that Valve and other similar services make will always have their fans and detractors. Until economic market forces drive some of those devs into other fields (hey, don't belittle yourself, if Carmack can do it so can you) there's going to be blood and tribulation in the streets.

@Ian Richard and others have written to the effect that less well known titles were harder to find on the front page. However, all those games were on sale (and, in fact, all devs/publishers can now set their own discount rate whenever they want) and findable by any steam user who uses the Wishlist feature or performs a simple store search.

Joseph Cook
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It appears that more developers are learning that they're not entitled to success just because they made a good game.

Unless you tell me about your game in a quick, succinct way that explains why I should care about it, and why I should buy it instead of one of the thousands of other games on Steam and other storefronts, I probably won't.


Tom Francis said it best a couple of years ago:

http://www.pentadact.com/2012-03-17-gdc-talk-how-to-explain-your-
game-to-an-asshole/

Heng Yoeung
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Wow. Someone who doesn't buy your game is automatically an asshole? Really? Someone who doesn't hire you for a job is an asshole by correlation, right?

Christiaan Moleman
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@Heng: Missing the point entirely. Did you read the actual talk? Francis is speaking from his personal experience as a journalist. With the hypothetical "asshole" the author is referring to himself. It's just a blunt way of saying "how to explain your game to an impatient person who has no reason to be interested (yet)". He has a unique perspective because he's been on both sides of the fence (journalism AND development). Ignore advice at your own peril.

Heng Yoeung
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@Christian

You say in the same breath the author is referring to himself, but to the hypothetical, potential buyer. The term is not just for himself is it?

Christiaan Moleman
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@Heng: Maybe just read the actual talk yourself instead of making uninformed comments.

Benjamin McCallister
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Yeah. No point responding to that guy. wow.

Michael G
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I've said for some time that Valve should have a random selection on the first tab of featured games instead of Top Sellers.

John Ardussi
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Some categories I wish they had:

- Steam Exclusive
- Self Published
- User Rating Under 50,000 copies sold
- By More Genres (there are no horror or stealth genres)

Dane MacMahon
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They're still building to user-created stores, which should solve the issue for the most part. The sooner I can just check a couple specific storefronts with games I actually am interested in the better.

Benjamin McCallister
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Dane,

What do you think will prevent monopoly storefronts from forming by popular lets players like PewDiePie, etc?

John Ardussi
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The Sale may have been better for devs in past years, but we are doing great. We released the first version of our game into the Alphafunding area on June 5 at a 20% discount. We were surprised how well we sold. We had a week of no sale price before the Summer Sale started. Sales dropped by 75% for that week. When the Summer Sale started, we had a 35% discount and sales jumped right back to where they were at launch. They have slowly tapered off during the week.

I think while a discount is good, visibility is way more important. We are not getting any visibility, but our sales numbers will cover us for a month. So we are extremely happy. This has been way better and way easier than Kickstarter. And we are getting funding before our release. A true indie success story.

We have also had some potential bigger deal contacts. Steam really attracts the serious people.

Our game "The Hat Man: Shadow Ward":
http://store.steampowered.com/app/291010

Dane MacMahon
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Getting peoples' attention is definitely key. I play Western RPGs 90% of the time so if you put your RPG in front of me I'm going to either buy it or wishlist it while I look at videos/forum comments.

Steffen BaboonLord Kabbelgaard
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I like the new community choice approach. Before it was single games battling it out, now it's groups. It creates some fun shared twitter campaigns for those 6 hours of voting :)

Couch co-op FTW ;)

Marc Magi
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Yes, that was good, although was it the first time they did that?

Alan Barton
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"People buy dozens of games"

... And then after the sales have finished, people have a huge backlog of games to play and so are less likely to buy games even after the sales.

And even when their backlog is getting lower, another steam sale starts.

So at this rate, the true prices of the games is becoming the steam sale price.

Javier Degirolmo
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I was under the impression players ended up getting a lot of games in their backlog and never playing them (from a business standpoint it doesn't matter much because the purchase happened anyway).

That said, how many people buy a game on Steam outside of a sale? Pretty much every game is guaranteed to have a large discount sooner or later. It's like the issues with indie games and bundles (why buy a game on its own when you can get several for less?).

Alan Barton
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@"a lot of games in their backlog and never playing them"

The figure was 37% of unplayed games, which isn't "dozens of games" bought, so my point still stands. People now getting "dozens of games" is a scary increase in bulk buying when prices are cheap on sale.

The majority are likely to be played even if the figure of 37% keeps rising.

If someone has just bought dozens of games, they have a lot of games still to be played, meaning they are less likely to buy even more games whilst they have so many unplayed.

@"how many people buy a game on Steam outside of a sale"
Less and less will buy at full price, if they can bulk buy when prices are cheap.

Which again was my point.

Daniel Boy
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Dear Alan,
1. "meaning they are less likely to buy even more games whilst they have so many unplayed."
There is no data backing this up. None.

2. "Less and less will buy at full price, if they can bulk buy when prices are cheap."
There is no data backing this up. None.

To be honest: We had his discussion a few years ago and all (!) the data Valve (and others (!)) showed us showed a different correlation. So: A. Why are you so sure that something changed in between? And, if the trend has indeed changed, B. why do you think is Valve still continuing with these sales as they are "destroying" their consumer base?
And as a bonus round:
Can you answer me this question: C. Why are people buying DVDs on release and don't wait for a few months to get them for 50% off?

edit: some spelling

Heng Yoeung
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Can you answer me this question: C. Why are people buying DVDs on release and don't wait for a few months to get 50% off?

Because they're rich and stupid?

Christiaan Moleman
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@Heng: Or how about 1) they can afford it AND 2) they want to support a thing they like. OR They don't want to wait for a sale and feel full price is reasonable.

No need to insult anyone. Getting a game full price is a valid choice.

Isaac Knowles
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Daniel could you provide cites for this discussion using data from valve and others?

Daniel Boy
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A pleasure.

- Gabe Newell on sales at DICE 2009 (directly after that Left 4 Dead sale):
"During the Holiday sales:
10% sale = 35% increase in sales (real dollars, not units shipped)
25% sale = 245% increase in sales
50% sale = 320% increase in sales
75% sale = 1470% increase in sales"
http://www.g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/693342/live-blog-dice-2009-
keynote-gabe-newell-valve-software/

- Newell at WTIA TechNW about hidden vs visible price cuts concerning Counter Strike among other things:
"We do a 75 percent price reduction, our Counter-Strike experience tells us that our gross revenue would remain constant. Instead what we saw was our gross revenue increased by a factor of 40. Not 40 percent, but a factor of 40. Which is completely not predicted by our previous experience with silent price variation."
http://www.geekwire.com/2011/experiments-video-game-economics-val
ves-gabe-newell/

- Two years ago: Runic, Supergiant, McMillen, XSEED, Toxic about steam sales:
""A lot of times we judge the success of a game -- and predict its sales -- by looking at its launch day numbers. Steam sales have made that delightfully impossible. Our launch day [for Bastion], which we viewed as very strong, is only our fifth best day of sales ever on Steam due to the power of the promotions we've had the opportunity to participate in."
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/174587/Steam_sales_How_deep_di
scounts_really_affect_your_games.php

Andreas Heldt
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I think that times changes from 2009 to now, so the information about sales boost through a sale is not on the same rate anymore like it was 2009 or even 2012.
This is not the only piece of information which is outdated. There are a lot of outdated articles in the games industry which we can't use now. the games industry changes too fast.

Amir Barak
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The problem with your numbers Daniel is that they are anecdotal evidence at best (unless you can link to an actual study with proper citations and a decent control pool).

I'm not saying Gabe Newell is wrong mind you (Zeus knows he's way ahead of me concerning knowledge of the business side of the games industry). I'm just saying that everyone on either side of this fence needs to stop using a "I think" and "I feel" sort of number throwing. That's how people start believing in Homeopathy...

Heng Yoeung
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Yes, those are certainly reasons as well. But, who in their right mind is going to shell out $60 benjamins out of a whim. People who are impatient and rich. Throwing money away like that for instant gratification is, in my mind, stupid.

Marc Magi
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@Daniel Boy
"2. "Less and less will buy at full price, if they can bulk buy when prices are cheap."
There is no data backing this up. None"

This has been and is being discussed ad nauseam. But, even if there were data backing it up, what upfront difference does it make if 10 players buy a game @ $50 or 50 players buy a game @ $10? Moreover, when you consider in-game micro-transactions and other real and virtual marketables, I would think the latter, ultimately, might be more profitable.

Daniel Boy
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Andreas,
So something changed between 2012 and now. What changed and why do you think it changed? Is it a feeling (not a bad thing in itself, usually a sign of a lack of hard facts)? Where does it come from?

Amir,
Did you read the linked articles or just the teaser quotes?
I wouldn't call a complete analysis of Valve sales from the first one until Feb 2010 an anecdote, worse with such strong follow-up 2012. The other "side" of the "fence" is not throwing around any other sales numbers because there are none. I would love to have more but this is the information we have right now. Maybe something has changed in between 2012 and 2014, but there are no numbers from any dev (or valve) to back it up. Maybe the buying behaviour is strongly negatively influenced by a back log with a length of n or a percentage x% of unplayed games. Maybe the sales teach enough players to wait for sales to get their games? And maybe now in June 2014 a tipping point is reached.
All interesting questions. But without sales data backing it up that is all they are: questions. The difference between the "sides" is, that I pose them as open questions and the other "side" short fuses them and presents them as facts.
"37% of the Steam games are unplayed" is a nice fact, but what does it mean? How does it compare to one, two, three years ago? How does it compare to other media (I'm looking at my book shelf)? And most importantly: What is the _effect_ of a 30% vs. 40% vs. 50% back log? Do people _really_ buy less the more back log they have?
Because we have no connected data this fact in itself has no meaning.
Deep inside most of the cocky conjectures lie two ideas: The idea of the saturation of a consumer and the idea of the training of all consumers through sales into bargain hunters.

But to lighten things up, I'll throw in a totally unfounded theory of mine:
The steam sale this year was so boring because Valve wants to stop the rise of the backlog. They try to get the Titanic back on track.

(And I never used: "I think"/ "I feel" in my posts here. Both good starting points for becoming a consciousness. But that's another story. And homeopathy, yeah.)

Daniel Boy
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Marc,
you're right, your example does not make any economical sense on the first glance. Even worse, you'll have to pay servers for five times the people.

But five times as many customers is music for steam as a platform and for your company considering the game a "franchise". Piracy will be lower etc. But what other devs experienced is not your example:
What supergiant games and others experienced just were much higher. The sales lacked the typical front heaviness: First day sales usually are the most important ones (let's wait for those Destiny figures ;). This is different here. First day sales are still very high, but a _featured_ sale months after release can make more money for your game than launch day. You're sales even get a longer tail for free. As far as we know your sales after the sale will bounce back higher than they have been before. Spikes and a stronger tail: It's the stegosaurus tail.
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/LarsDoucet/20131216/206916/The_Ste
gosaurus_Tail_when_quotThe_Long_Tailquot_grows_spikes.php
(btw. everything written by Lars is brillant.)

So the narrative at the moment is:
Sell 100 for full price, 150 for 25% off, 250 for 50% off, 300 for 75% off. And 30 in between at full price. Instead of just selling 100 at launch and 15 after that. Featured sales create demand. Out of nothing. This is the narrative.

Amir Barak
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I skimmed through some of the articles although haven't had a chance to read them deeply. My comment concerning "thinks/feels" was directed at both sides throwing out numbers and my position hasn't changed. Even Gabe Newell says at some point that the mechanism is not understood. The problem with the current sales numbers (from my perspective) is lack of transparency. We need a properly controlled survey/research/study before we can start using the current "data" to drew over-reaching conclusions.

I still stand by my assertion that the evidence is anecdotal. Gabe Newell is talking mostly about his games on his platforms promoted by his hand (and by his I mean Valve as a company). The games we see publicized through sales (especially this year) are high profile indie games. What about the smaller games and the unknown devs? Does GOG.com have anything to say about sale numbers? What about actual indie developers selling direct from their website?

(Also on a side note, he says at some point that Steam deals in local currency, I don't know about that, I'm in Israel and I see prices in dollars).

In the end until proper studies are conducted it's hard to know.

Also, for another side note, Cliff Harris has a really interesting blog and he deals with some of this stuff.

Andreas Heldt
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@Daniel:
For example the numbers of releases on Steam has changed since 2012 significantly. So the visibility has changed, too.

This is only ONE of things are changed on the gamesmarket since 2012.

Daniel Boy
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Andreas,
But worse visibility and because of that less day-1-sales should make featured sales even more powerful, and not less, don't you think?

Amir,
I don't know if there is any data from other platforms. I think there is none floating around. Transparency is a problem. But with the effort of Kyle Orland and others we will have more data and will be more independent from Valve's info. In this linked article you can find a nice overview of independent resources, that might help you. But I don't know if anybody combed through it to analyse the last years (concerning sales and backlog). But the data is great! http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/steam-gauge-addressing-your
-questions-and-concerns/

I'm out!

Benjamin McCallister
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Have you personally been affected, negatively, by the visibility problem?

IE: You released a game in 2012 that did as expected, vs now, you've released a game of equal quality that has significantly underperformed and you can point to the lack of visibility as the problem?

Dan Felder
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People buy a lot of games, get a huge backlog, play some and lose interest quickly or never feel like playing a title - and then a shiny new title comes out.

People get huge backlogs of 'clothes' and that doesn't stop them from buying new clothes.

Robert Green
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The trend that jumped out at me this time is that even early access games are getting in on the steam sale. It can be hard to wrap your head around the idea of games being 66%-off before they've even been finished, though obviously 'finished' is a looser term now than it ever has been.

John Ardussi
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For us, Steam Alphafunding has worked out way better than Kickstarter. We discounted the game in Alphafunding basically going with the flow. We have heard conflicting information that says that discounts hurt long term and help short term. But no one is backing up their conjecture with actual facts.

We are old school. Release means no major updates unless there is an obvious feature that is required missing. We will respond to bugs. New in-game features for old titles should only be for MMOs. Obviously new platforms and hardware support I don't consider an in-game feature.

Nejc Eber
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Only MMOs? Why? There has been lots of success with game longevity by having updates (Don't Starve, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Terraria, Payday etc.)

Matt Robb
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It's only a (business) success if it drums up new income.

If the update creates new press and causes existing players to pick the game back up and begin a new wave of word-of-mouth advertising, then sure, it can be beneficial. Can also help a developers overall reputation which can drive sales of future titles.

Robert Green
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Second observation - the way they're giving me cards for voting/buying, which I can sell to other users, let's me feel like I'm gaming steam, even as I know it's gaming me. It's so very meta.

Heng Yoeung
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Meta what? Metaphysical? Metastasis? Metabolism? What does that even mean.

Jamorn Horathai
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Meta is a term in itself. Here's the meaning: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meta

Kenneth Blaney
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Metagames like cards, badges, achievements, items, etc build brand loyalty for Steam. It is one of the major reasons why people will say "I love Steam" and "I hate DRM" in the same breath despite Steam actually being DRM for non-physical media.

Heng Yoeung
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Jamon,

That's a new one for me. My bad. Thanks for the update.

Alan Barton
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@Daniel Boy

No data? ... WTF? Seriously?, you can't see? I would have to call your argument a straw man argument at best and a troll at worst, but lets play along.

Lets start here:
10% sale = 35% increase in sales (real dollars, not units shipped)
25% sale = 245% increase in sales
50% sale = 320% increase in sales
75% sale = 1470% increase in sales"

That's called Supply and Demand (The most basic lesson in Economics). Basically as the price goes down, the demand goes up.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand

Ok, now lets look at a few problems with that. Have you ever heard of Oversupply? Ever heard of a race to zero? Ever heard of a flooded market? Ever heard of limited free time?

(Frankly school kids could answer this one), but ok Daniel, here's some data you really feel the need for.

There are 24 hours in a day.
There are 7 days in a week.
We are asleep for about 7-8 hours a day.
Work takes up about 12-14 hours a day including travel
Say add in 1.5 hours per day for other living etc..
12+7+1.5 = 20.5
14+8 = 23.5
leaving around about 0.5 to 3.5 hours free for hobbies.
Gaming is one of many hobbies, not the only one.

Of course, everyone will have different amounts of remaining time they can use up as free time, but 100% of people have limited available hours which they can use up as free time.

Ok got enough data yet? Right, good.

The data shows people have limited time in their lives. Wow, but then none of us knew that 5 minutes ago did we, because we didn't have this data you wanted!!! ... limited time in their lives, well what do you know, what will they invent next?

Ok based on that data, lets try a hypothesis.

Person A has 1 game and Person B as 100 games and lets say the average game has a lifespan of N.

Ok person A has to play for N to use up that one game they have whilst person B has to play for 100*N to use up their 100 games.

So lets ask some questions about this:
Which of these people are more likely to be freed up from playing their existing games, to be able to have the time to play and so buy yet another game?

Which are more likely to think I've got enough games already unplayed, so I will wait before I will buy more?

Which are more likely to wait for the next sale, as they have games to keep them going, while they wait for games in the next sale?

Which are more likely to think, I've spent enough already, I don't have to buy more games yet, I'll wait?

Can you see it yet Daniel? Is it so hard for you to think it through?

Now apply that idea stochastically to millions of gamers. What would you expect the result to be? Would you expect to see an increasing move towards a more flooding market with more players getting an ever greater backlog of cheap games and so more players being less likely to buy full priced games.

I'll give you a clue, if you still can't get it ...

Start with this sentence: "People buy dozens of games"

Now Daniel, apply some of this new data that you have just learned.

Daniel Boy
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I think you're answered in the wrong thread, but I can just answer here. I think I'm just making you angry.

1. First: I made a mistake. I really should not have used teaser numbers in my post. I wanted you and other people interested in the sales numbers to read the articles. Not quote the teasers. Beginner's mistake. My fault.

2. Supply and demand. The articles I linked explain that usual supply and demand theories cannot explain what is happening on steam. Short version: _Featured_ sales create demand. Not the sale. The featuring + sale. But not in a way usual advertisement would. it's interesting.

3. "Freed up from playing their existing games". Will the person who owns 100 pairs of shoes or 2 pairs of shoes buy the next pair? Has demand anything to do with usage? How many people do "use up" their games after all? How many people think this way, and act this way? To ask you personally, do you ask yourself: Should I buy Thirty Flights of Loving or Skyrim or Dota 2?

To end,
Maybe having <40% unplayed games is healthy, maybe not. I don't know it, you don't know it.

Alan Barton
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@Daniel Boy

First of all, I've not answered in the wrong thread. Also your first post to me was smug and played a blatant rhetorical straw man clickbait argument and then some ignorant of the wider picture fools, obliged your straw man clickbait to vote you up.


@"The articles I linked explain that usual supply and demand theories cannot explain"

That is completely wrong. Lets look at the figures again...

10% sale = 35% increase in sales (real dollars, not units shipped)
25% sale = 245% increase in sales
50% sale = 320% increase in sales
75% sale = 1470% increase in sales

So as percentage of discount goes up, so the price goes down and as price goes down, the numbers of sales goes up ... this is supply and demand in its purest simplest clearest form.

My point is try keeping that lower and lower price going, as the market saturates with ever more cheap games, because you will find you can't without badly damaging the market, when you try to put prices back up again. We are talking about giving out vast numbers of cheap games (and now we are not talking about 37% of unplayed games, we are talking about bulk buying dozens of games when their price becomes cheap.


Now for your point 3, you will find some people who will buy and buy and buy no matter how many games they have, but you cannot use them as the norm to base your estimates of crowd behaviour because these people are the most extreme of that behaviour. They are not typical of the vast majority of people who have:
(1) Limited time to play more games.
(2) Limited money to buy more games.
(3) Limited space to store more games.
Each of these factors above will combine to reduce the overall numbers of new games sold *after* the consumer has already bought "dozens of games". Its a delayed reaction to oversupply. At first everyone will buy and buy until there is such a gluttony of games that the market saturates buying potential resulting in permanently lowering the price of games.

Whenever there is oversupply in any market, there is a reduction in the price, permanently.

If you still don't believe this, look to the mobile phone markets to see the effect of oversupply where the price has collapsed to the point where free has becoming the only surviving business model left standing due to incredible oversupply.

We shouldn't be arguing over this point... Its crazy to even try and a counterproductive time waster to try. We should have been discussing what as business people to do to respond to this changing market condition, instead you're wasted all our time trying to defend arguing minutia with you, as if that is the most pressing problem. Its not, not even close.

If the price of PC games keeps getting pushed down, our industry looses our biggest indie business lifeline that many small indie studios need to survive. If that happens a lot of people loose their jobs and a lot of small and big companies go out of business. That should have been the core concern here.

Daniel Boy
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You jumped two threads lower. No biggie.
The value of 37% is misleading. Kyle Orland updated it to 26.1% after a day or two. There were some minor problems with his method.
http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/steam-gauge-addressing-your
-questions-and-concerns/
I know that you think it is very easy to understand.

concept 1
Games are cheap.
Concumer Z buys many games.
Now Z has a backlog.
Z will buy less new titles because he has enough.*

concept 2
Game 1 sells at full price.
Z buys game a t full price.
Game 1 has a sale.
Z sees the sale and thinks "I could have saved 20$".
Game 2 sells at full price.
Z waits.
Game 2 has a sale.
Z buys Game 2, is happy and will now only buy games at a sale.*

I disagree with the starred conclusion. They are non-obvious and you can try as hard as you might, they will never be.

Oh, and better drop the limited $ argument + sales in connection with a lament of the "indie scene". If you are correct and people will blow a lot of their entertainment budget on steam sales, indie devs will get a disproportionate share compared to day 1 prices: Here Transistor and Skyrim meet as equals at 10$.

Alan Barton
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@Daniel Boy, yes I see now what you mean, i did skip a thread parent, sorry I think I scrolled too fast down and missed the gap where to post.

We will have to differ on our interpretation of the state of the market and how these kinds of business changes will effect it. Anyway I would say the Steam sales are part of the larger issue of ever greater numbers of games going on sale and no one is going to stop making games, so we are all going into this at full speed whatever sales any company does.

So pragmatically speaking, the longer I think about it today, all that reducing the numbers of sale periods will do, is slow an already sinking problem that some people seem unable or unwilling to see occuring. I do think some in our industry appear to be in deep denial at the moment of any problems with a push to greater sales selling at lower prices in ever greater bulk, but we are heading into this problem no matter what anyone says.

Time will tell who is right.

Benjamin McCallister
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You do realize that at a 75% discount you can afford to have a 60% backlog of games you never open, right?

That still fits snugly with your limited time hypothesis.

Believe it or not, the player is not some unwitting participant in this without a brain. You don't see them buying 10 60$ games at a time, or even 10 40$ games at a time because of limited time.

However, you will see a ton of purchases at 2$ because guess what, you can buy THIRTY games for the price of one, and its a sucker's bet you'll find at least one or two you enjoy playing.

So we're not butting up against the "limited time" theory, the sales are embracing it.

I see a lot of hemming and hawing by people about sales and the race to zero, and yet, I just KEEP seeing success stories.

Are all the people complaining actually even on steam and selling? Or are they armchair quarterbacks creating problems before they've even published?

(Not casting a stone at you, its a generalized question)

Kai Boernert
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For the first time in years, I spend way more money outside steam than on steam
Why? I can't find what I want on steam anymore (even tho its there).

Eg I would like to search for games like Minecraft, Industry-giant, Dayz.
It starts to appear like the appstore where there is so much crap (read for me unrelevant/uninteresting, not bad games) that I can't find the few I want to play and would be willing to pay more money on.

This results in buying half a dozen cheap games throwing thema gainst the wall, and see if anything sticks there. In this years case the yet unfinsihed StarForge seems to be the one for the above preferences.


Valve really needs some kind of system to create a kind of follower system, where I can follow some youtube guys/ect that play games I find interesting, and show me what games they bought and if they would recommend them.

Kenneth Blaney
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Gabe Newell has stated this is, more or less, where he wants Greenlight to go. Users will create their own storefronts that will be stocked with the games that they choose from the Steam catalog (which will be even more liberal in admitting games in the future). Storefronts then drive traffic to Steam in exchange for a cut of the sales.

Heng Yoeung
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Gamasutra is not a bad place to find game reviews you might like. Leigh Alexander wrote an article for Last of Us which I can see why she was high on it, having played it the other day. There's still a lot of room for creative game making within the framework of what you to work with.

Garry Grossmann
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Firstly, developers need to stop relying on Steam as a promotional platform. That is what Steam wasn't meant to be and definitely won't be in the upcoming months and years.

Benjamin McCallister
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Therein lies the problem Garry. Most game developers have no interest or desire to do any marketing or promote their game. Steam was meant to be a distribution method, not the SOLE method of promotion you get.

In the early days, because of the curation, and because it was hard to get on, simply being visible was a huge spike in sales.

However, the vast majority of indies bemoaned the difficulty of getting on steam.

Waah, my games Runny Choad and Angry Frogs aren't greenlit, the system is broke! Or kickstarter couldn't drum up enough cash and getting early access was the only form of crowd funding that would move my project forward and no one voted on it, THE SYSTEM IS BROKE!

Well valve made it user curated and much less difficult to get on, and now, people are whining about that too.

FWIW, There are dozens of games released every month, not hundreds, or thousands. People comparing steam to App Store or Google play are reactionary, temper tantrum throwing children.

Tyler King
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@Ben I agree with most of what you said however...

Dec 4th - 100 games greenlit
Jan 7th - 50 games greenlit
Jan 21th - 50 games greenlit
Feb 5th - 50 games greenlit
Feb 19th - 50 games greenlit
Mar 6th - 50 games greenlit
Mar 20th - 75 games greenlit
Apr 3rd - 75 games greenlit
Apr 17th - 75 games greenlit
Apr 30th - 75 games greenlit
May 15th - 75 games greenlit

Didn't see any in June, but April had 225 games greenlit so that buffers a couple months. Either way these numbers do not include releases from companies that do no longer have to go through the greenlit process. So while there might not be hundreds released every month, it is certainly higher than dozens. And while I understand that greenlit does not mean they were released now, they will likely be released at some future point. Which means there will be months when you have hundreds of releases.

Benjamin McCallister
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You are correct. It is more than dozens, I probably embellished a little bit to prove my point.

I am certainly not saying that the number of games isn't pretty high, but I think, to date, a lot of people have been relying Greenlight to be both distribution model and advertising scheme.

Its just not going to be that way going forward.

Visibility is going to again, be a matter of putting a little bit of work in to rise above the pack. It will still always be better than app store or google play.

And to be honest, its the public who is greenlighting these games, lets not forget. They ARE getting the votes.

So if your game gets greenlit, it means, at the very least, that 10,000 plus people SAW your game AND said "Yes I'd buy this".

So in that regard, there is still little chance of outright failure if your game is successfully greenlit, because all the people who voted will already know about your game.

Dane MacMahon
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Alex McAvoy's tweet is silly, I think. I have two genres I enjoy playing and I don't owe your game a look if it's outside of those just to be nice, or to fit some criteria you have of "real gamer" or whatever. Steam is a flood of games I have no interest in with a few I want here and there, and low prices doesn't change that.

Maria Jayne
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I'm not sure why the games on sale were cycled multiple times, especially if they've won a vote previously. You already get a second chance to purchase at the discount and possibly that final sale day. Not as if there were no other games on sale...

Smells like publisher money to me.

It was interesting to see them do a vote on Animation vs Audio software, rather unpopular with some users who just wanted games though.


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