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November 26, 2020
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Help needed: what's the real Steam reviews/sales ratio?

by Simon Carless on 07/19/20 10:04:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
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[Hi, I’m ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, which you can subscribe to now, a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

So, following a successful survey for ‘Steam wishlists to first week sales’, it’s time for a (much needed) re-evaluation of the lifetime review/sales ratio on Steam. And we need your help in giving us stats! But why the re-eval, and what’s it for?

Well many people use the Steam review/sales ratio to estimate how many copies of a game have been sold - to understand how games are doing in the space. It’s a key public metric, in fact. (‘A game has 100 reviews, perhaps it sold 3-5,000 copies’, etc..)

But there hasn't been a recent attempt to re-evaluate the so-called 'Boxleiter number' - more fully researched by Jake Birkett in 2018 as ‘for every Steam review, you’ve sold between 30 and 150 copies of your game’.

And there’s been some significant changes to Steam (and players!) in recent years. In particular, as of late 2019, there’s now a prompt for players to review games in the Steam interface:

There’s also been Steam sales which actually incentivized leaving lots of reviews (by giving you awards!) Overall, my impression is that ‘lifetime reviews to sales ratio’ has come down quite a bit in recent years.

I still hear of older games that have mantained a 1:75 ratio lifetime, but I’ve also encountered newer titles that have as low as 1:15 in terms of reviews to sales! (Also more games are building communities, and then encouraging reviews via those communities?)

Anyhow, it’s time to find out where we really are in 2020. So, if you have a game available on Steam, we’d love you to anonymously fill out this mini-survey at any time before the end of Friday, July 24th (in your local timezone!)

We don’t even need your exact lifetime sales number - just a range, and then the current sales/review ratio. So it’s even easier and ‘safer’ to fill out.

Please enter data multiple times if you have multiple games, and if we can get 50+ results for games of various vintages - we’ll have a great new benchmark! I’ll report it back to all newsletter subscribers in a couple of weeks!


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