Plus exclusive: Steam Hype & the Cyberpunk avoidance zone

Get out of the way of the 'punk!

[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless. This weekly chart countdown of next week’s top game debuts in terms of Steam Hype scores, using a special algorithm, is normally exclusive to GameDiscoverCo Plus subscribers - we made this one free a few weeks after release!]

Following last week’s debut (subscriber-only link) for the wondrous Steam Hype charts, where we did a close analysis of the games debuting this week on Steam using our proprietary Hype chart data, here’s the next in this regular series. But for this one, we’re going to look back, in addition to forwards.

Before we start, here’s what all of the Steam Hype categories mean (subscriber-only link). Each of them is assigned points, and we then get a total Hype score for each game coming out next week! And month! And forever!

Steam Hype charts, week of December 7th, 2020

If there’s a Hype Chart story this week - and there is - it’s that everybody got the heck out of the way of CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077. It’s launching on December 9th with over 100,000 Steam Hype points (!!!)

There are currently only ten other unreleased Steam games with more than 10,000 Hype points. And the second-placed game, Party Animals, has just over 25,000. So Cyberpunk is at least 4 times as big - by our data - as anything even scheduled to come out on Steam. (And then there’s many console versions too!)

And guess what? That’s scared all the other releases off! Last week’s chart had all of the Top 10 games with at least 1,000 Hype points. And this week’s one only has three games with >1,000 points (the fourth placed game, Slapshot: Rebound, would have been 20th place in last week’s chart.)

So let’s take a look at just those Top 3 games….

(#1, 102,108 points) Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt) - what is there to say that hasn’t been said already? 900,000 Steam followers likely means this game has 5 million+ Steam wishlists, which could be an all-time high for an unreleased game. And I don’t expect CDPR to drop the ball significantly on expectations, given the size and scope of the game. We’ll see, huh?

(#2, 1,452 points) Unto The End (2 Ton Studios / Big Sugar) A two-dev created single player sidescrolling story game in the playstyle of Inside, etcetera. Definitely has some fans on the Steam forums, though some say the demo was a bit too tricky. Would imagine it will do decently, if not spectacularly?

(#3, 1,028 points) Call Of The Sea (Out Of The Blue / Raw Fury) Really beautiful-looking first person adventure - a ‘30s South Pacific walking sim with puzzles - which seems a lot like a ‘subscription catalog’-style game rather than a ‘strong hook’ title. (Not coincidentally, it’s coming to Xbox/PC Game Pass on Day 1.) Will be interesting to see if it can break out on Steam, too - it’s hovering around #200 on wishlists.

What happened to previous Hype predictions?

Unfortunately, not all of the games we covered in last week’s newsletter have launched for long enough to get a good idea of how they’ll end up doing. Generally best to give it at least a couple of days for things to settle - and to see how swiftly games come down from the top of the charts.

So we’ll cover titles like Haven (#2 in Hype last week), Per Aspera (#4), Phoenix Point (#8), & Creeper World 4 (#5) next week. In the meantime, you can see below how they’re doing real-time on the Steam global charts, as of December 3rd after lunch PT. All of them are currently in the top 10, give or take - a big day for launches!

But here are the games that we do feel qualified to comment upon (as of mid-December 3rd), looking at recent releases and how they converted. Reminder - in 2020, most games are converting reviews to actual sales in a 20x to 60x ratio, so multiply by those numbers to get a very rough idea of sales so far:

Empire Of Sin (Romero Games / Paradox Interactive)
(8,190 Hype points - #1 on last week’s list, Dec 1st release date - 1,085 mixed Steam reviews)

Well, Empire Of Sin has roared out of the gate player-wise, with as high as 9,200 simultaneous players on its release on the 1st. But it’s also having both bug and expectation-related issues, with an unspectacular 65 Metacritic score and just 48% positive Steam reviews so far.

So this is definitely an example of a game with high ‘hype’ where I don’t think players fully understood the kind of game they were going to get. It shoves a lot of different mechanics into the mix, and not all of them are as fleshed out as other Paradox games. (The combat in particular seems to be repetitive.)

There’s still time to turn it around. But Empire Of Sin will have to get its reviews all the way from 48% to 70% just to make it to ‘Mostly Positive’. And a ‘Mixed’ review score will surely affect the long-tail. In the meantime, it’s still one of the biggest releases of the week.

Project Wingman (Sector D2 / Humble Games)
(2,762 Hype points, #7 on last week’s list - Dec 1st release date - 902 very positive Steam reviews.)

We’d predicted this game would do fairly well - it was in the Top 10 for this week, and was in a fairly unique ‘combat flight game’ subgenre which is under-utilized on Steam. But we didn’t think it would do quite this well.

It’s been regularly outselling Empire Of Sin in Steam’s real-time global charts since launch on the 1st. (Remember, Empire Of Sin had preorders, which is how EoS still has more reviews and overall buyers.) And with Very Positive reviews and particularly good graphical finesse thanks to Unreal Engine and a talented (largely) solo dev, looks like Project Wingman is going to rack up some very good numbers.

As for other notable games in recent weeks, with how they’ve done:

Frostpoint VR (247 Hype points, Dec 1st release date) - just to show that being lower down the Hype charts does, in fact, get you less reviews, this doubtless expensive VR title with only a couple of hundred Hype points has just 8 Steam reviews so far.

Worms Rumble (2,763 Hype points, #6 in Hype last week, December 1st release date) - the latest in the Worms franchise goes real-time. It’s doing decently, with 220 Very Positive reviews, but looks like it’s maxing out at around 600-700 simul players on Steam alone, which isn’t gigantic for a game that lives and dies via multiplayer. (Also some launch bugs need ironing out.)

Nekopara Vol. 4 (1,997 Hype points, November 26th release date) - this Japanese adult visual novel already has over 3,000 Overwhelmingly Positive reviews - though only around 600 of them are in English language. That’s probably an overperformance on its Hype score, thanks to the strong franchise.

Sky Haven (2169 Hype points, November 25th release date) - this airport simulator ended up launching only into Early Access, not into full launch, which explains why it ‘only’ has 176 Very Positive reviews so far. (It’s missing a lot of the front page promotion you get with a full release.) It still seems well set up to grow in the future, though.

RAM Pressure (2080 Hype points, November 24th release date) - this very good-looking multiplayer X-COM-a-like had a long period of closed/open Beta via its own website, and then somewhat stealth-launched into Early Access as free (!) I think it’s going for F2P monetization in the longterm, but for now, it only has 207 Mixed reviews, despite having a lot of followers/wishlists - so looks like it may have trouble getting there.

Psycho Wolf (72 Hype points, November 20th release date) - Again, showcasing that less points does make a difference, this decent-looking stealth game never picked up much interest and therefore points. So it has just 2 user reviews (!) since its launch on the 20th.

That’s your lot for this week! Thanks for reading and ruminating. I’ll check back with you at the end of next week to work out what’s hot in the world of Steam Hype. And whether any of the games that have generic ‘2020’ release dates on Steam are actually going to release this year, haha! (Spoiler: they not.)

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