[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter 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.]
And we’re back with the second GameDiscoverCo newsletter of the week, in this bright sunny February afternoon* (*may not be bright or sunny in your neck of the woods.)
This time, we finally get to conducting a survey that some of you have been asking about for ages. Plus, we reveal some neat follow-ups from our earlier surveys you might have missed… and lots more besides. Let’s go go.
Steam wishlists to followers - the new ratio?
For all those wondering what the data-obsessed GameDiscoverCo crew is going on about, we’ll explain for a second.
Steam followers are an always-public number, viewable for every released and unreleased Steam game. It’s the amount of people who decided to see news about your game without wishlisting it, selected here:
This is useful because, although you can see pre-release Steam wishlist rankings (if you’re in the top 800 unreleased games or so), you can’t see how many wishlists these games have - unless you’re the developer or publisher of that game. You can see any game’s follower numbers via the SteamDB page under ‘Store Data’, or various other more esoteric ways.
So, followers are a great way to estimate deeper interest in a game before it comes out. Players need to consciously follow a game from its details page, vs. some more ‘casual’ places where you can wishlist. GameDiscoverCo fuses pre-release followers, wishlists, and extra info into the GameDiscoverCo Plus-exclusive Steam Hype charts, btw.
(Side note: the above SteamDB chart is for super-neat looking sword fighting sim Hellish Quart, and the big follower boost back in October was because of the Steam Festival demo of the game. Time-limited Steam Festival demos ftw!)
Anyhow, we believe that pre-release wishlist to follower ratios have been changing significantly - largely upwards - over the past 2 or 3 years. This is due to greater pre-release publicity opportunities from Steam. In fact, if you go back in time far enough, you’ll see - as in this Jake Birkett Tweet from 2019 - that he was expecting a pre-release game to have 4.5 wishlists per follower.
But nowadays, we think many unreleased Steam games fall in the 6 to 10 wishlists per follower range. But… we don’t know. So let’s find out! If you have an unreleased Steam game, please fill in this anonymized survey form.
We’ll compile all the answers, and get them back to you in a couple of weeks. And if you have multiple games, do it once for each game. We’re hoping for 100+ responses, and it’ll help everyone understand the market better. So please help out if you can! (And yes, Valve allows you to share this information publicly.)
(BTW, we’re not surveying post-release follower to wishlist ratios because we think they’re much more complicated. As soon as you come out, people start buying games from your wishlist, which reduces it, whereas you don’t necessarily lose followers, so the ratios seem… less helpful. But we might survey it at a later date!)
Follow-ups: GameDiscoverCo survey hits…
We’ve been picking up a lot of subscribers in recent months, so just wanted to highlight and update the previous useful surveys that GameDiscoverCo has done around Steam data.
In June 2020, we asked people about their Steam wishlists to first week sales ratio, discovering that it varies from as low as ‘your first week sales were 4.5% of your wishlists’ to as high as ‘your first week sales were more than 100% of your wishlists’.
Then, back in November 2020, we asked about Week 1 to Month 1, Year 1 gross revenue ratios for Steam games. So basically, if you’ve made $50k at the end of Week 1, what’s the median for the end of Year 1, etc? Useful data - though again, there’s a fair amount of variation in results.
Finally, and this is what I wanted to update on - in August 2020, we surveyed ‘the NB number’, which is what we’re calling the Steam review to sales ratio. For new games, we discovered it tends to span anywhere between 20 and 60 as many times sales as reviews.
(As it happens, Valheim hitting 1 million sales on Steam in its first week with 17,000 reviews was a perfect test of that. That’s 58 sales per review, and we’d expect a higher ratio for a game that’s selling swiftly with a lot of more casual players, as it is.)
Anyhow, Bilge at Steam250.com (who has his own Patreon, plz support!) has been working with me to apply these surveys to Steam data, based on the massive amount of info he’s grabbed. And he’s rolled these new estimates out on his site over the last few weeks - here’s the detailed data for Void Bastards which I extracted above.
He’s doing interesting things like taking ‘number of days on sale’ and possible sales unit uplift into account for net/gross revenue. So I think it’s one of the more ‘accurate’ estimation methods - if you can ever call anything like this accurate. So take a look, and email Bilge if you have feedback, particularly if his estimated revenue ranges aren’t right for your games. (They may still be skewing a bit high.)
The game discovery news round-up..
OK, let’s take things to the bridge, or the chorus, or one of those two, with a look at the rest of the notable video game discovery news of the week. Let’s hit it:
Were you in the Steam Festival that just ended with your game demo? If you were, Chris Zukowski would love to get information on how your game did, including number of wishlists added, whether you livestreamed, and all kinds of other detailed information. (If you fill out two surveys this week, make them ours AND Chris’!)
Did you know there’s a Game Pass equivalent for VR games, pictured? I keep forgetting about it, but HTC has its Viveport Infinity subscription service, and has some decent new VR titles in there too - Paper Beast, The Room VR, the Five Nights At Freddy’s VR game, & lots more. It’s $9 a month if you sign up for a year.
Amazon isn’t done with games yet, despite disappointing results from the studio side of the business so far, new CEO Andy Jassy is at pains to point out: “Some businesses take off in the first year, and others take many years… Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet in Amazon Game Studios, I believe we will if we hang in there.” Heck, Twitch is working just great, and Amazon Luna seems like a well-constructed ‘smaller bet’, so two of three ain’t bad.
Before I forget, did the Steam Festival add mouseovers for info on what each of the ‘trending’ charts are after I talked about them, or did I just miss them? Probably the latter! Anyhow, they’re there now - if you want to mouse over ‘Trending Upcoming Games’ and see, etc. The results seemed to have been more diverse games than last festival in this section, either way.
Microlinks: looks like Factorio has now sold over 2,500,000 copies, over 8+ years of development - impressive; KingSim made $18,000 in its first 6 months on Steam and has a YouTube video about it; here’s the Top 100 Japanese retail games for 2020 with physical unit totals - headed by Animal Crossing, very unsurprisingly.
Following the ‘Steam China launched’ bombshell earlier in the week, SteamDB put up a bonus blog post about it: “This platform is entirely interconnected with global Steam.. Steam China websites [is] heavily cut down on features… the only available things are the profile pages, their game list and inventory… Game purchases are shared between the platforms as well.” Interesting stuff.
Microlinks #2: think we have it rough estimating video game sales or revenues? Spare a thought for the post-COVID movie world; lessons from launching a 24/7 streaming video game network (Venn) during the pandemic; Crash Bandicoot 4’s PC debut will be on Battle.net, which is kinda funny given the grognard-heavy historical make-up of the platform, now clearly just ‘Activision’s digital store’.
Finally, thought this was fun. You know how everyone’s a video game company nowadays? Seriously, everyone’s a video game company:
[We’re GameDiscoverCo, a new agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? You can subscribe to GameDiscoverCo Plus to get access to exclusive newsletters, interactive daily rankings of every unreleased Steam game, and lots more besides.]