Gamasutra: Simon Carless’s Blog-Data Details: What is the “long tail” of a Steam game?

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[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter, which you can sign up for now, is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert & GameDiscoverCo founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

As you may know, I made a data call a few weeks ago because one subject has been covered so much recently. And as I said then: “Of course, let’s say Your game earned $ 50,000 in the first week on Steam..But finally Will the first year be $ 100,000 or $ 250,000???And how about at the end 2nd or 3rd year?? “

So I asked for data (anonymously abstracted) to better understand if there is a trend in revenue scaling / “long tail”. Almost 100 people have stepped up To provide information. thank you very much! Let’s take a look at what we found …

How does Steam $ in the 1st and 1st years compare to the 1st week?

So I asked about the total income I earned on Steam in the first week, and then I asked. “How many times that revenue was at the end of the first month? How about the first year?” And the following results were obtained.

As you can see, the average multiple was 1.57 times from the first month to the first week and 4.52 times from the first year to the first week. But the average is distorted by some titles released with a small profit, so a multiple from water, haha.

So we think Median (Results for the 50th percentile) is a better than average comparison.and it is Game revenue in the first month is 1.47 times higher than in the first week,and Exactly four times the profit in the first year compared to the first week.. So, for a median game that started with a total revenue of $ 50,000, it would be $ 73,500 at the end of the first month and $ 200,000 at the end of the first year.

(Two important caveats. First, I didn’t talk about the units sold. Only total revenue. So, perhaps, all large Steam sales with discounts to reach these numbers. You’ll have games in .. Next, we’ve excluded early access games from this chart as EA games moving to full release can actually spike multiples.)

Do you want to dig deeper into the “long tail” data points?

What we did in the previous study was to display all the relevant data points we plotted as well. This will give you an idea of ​​the possible consequences.

That’s all for Month 1: Multiples of Steam in Week 1 including Early Access in this case (because we’re assuming no one will launch from EA for the first 30 days!) Look at a fairly wide range here Can be done, but Most of the results are between 1.2x and 2x:

Next, let’s take a look at all the data points, including early access games, for Year 1: Multiples of Weekly Revenue. There are some pretty quirky multiples here. However, many of them are due to the additional Steam functionality gained by a full Steam launch (and relatively less by Early Access launch). Still, check it out.

Therefore, if not launched in Early Access, the plotted points will look a bit conservative and wise compared to what we heard anecdotally.Wisdom was generally that “OK” The first year is 2.5 to 3 times the first week, In terms of profitability And 5-6x is doing really well.. And surely, the data shows this:

Before we move on, there is one important thing to discuss. This data was from all Steam eras-from 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, and even (one month’s data!)?

Good, At least with the data we have, the year of release doesn’t change the multiple so much..It’s true that more and more games are being released on Steam, and we believe Average / median sales for the first week of all Steam games are declining.. But after booting Multiples of 1st month / 1st year are similar regardless of when they debuted on Steam.. You see, here’s the evidence:

The only addition we make is Launched in 2019, games that earned more than $ 50,000 in the first week had a “week to one year” multiplier of 3.26 times. -And The multiplier for “1 week to 1 month” was 1.39 times..We feel they may be More realistic numbers We’re hoping for a bigger game to be released on Steam these days.

“Long long tail”-after the second year

Finally, long-term results appear to be affected by survivorship bias. (If the game hasn’t been sold for years after it was released, it may not be responding to requests for data about the game!)

Still, I would like to divide all the numbers I received during “1 week to 2 years”, 3 years, 4 years, and 5 years by “all games” and “only games other than early access”. :

In other words, it just expresses the multiplier of total income in text. For games other than Early Access: 4x (1st year multiplier); 6.06x (2nd year multiplier); 6.69x (3rd year multiplier); 8x (4th year multiplier); 8.77x (5th year multiplier).

afterwards In all gamesKeep in mind that early access starts late (and maybe EA games will live longer with SaaS-style updates?) 4.7x (1st year multiplier); 7.82x (2nd year multiplier); 10.48x (3rd year multiplier); 14.55x (4th year multiplier); 20.34x (5th year multiplier).


And it’s there. You can use this data in conjunction with the “Steam Wish List to First Week Sales” data * to stitch together your own stories about many unreleased or released games (yourself and other games). .. (* By the way, the “Steam Wish List for Sales” will be updated shortly as we have some new data on how to interpret it better.)

Of course, your trajectory is not your destiny. However, such studies show some things that can and cannot be done. So be hopeful and realistic about the whole thing. The video game business is big, crowded and complex, but there’s no other place we want.

[This newsletter is handcrafted by GameDiscoverCo, a new agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game. Contact us if you want help with your game or game portfolio’s discoverability quotient.]

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