Plus 'sample': Biomutant attacks, Elite's odyssey perplexes

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[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless. This newsletter was originally published on May 21st, 2021, normally only goes to GameDiscoverCo Plus subscribers weekly, and rounds up a plethora of exclusive platform sales & other analysis. It’s as we sent it to our Plus subscribers, minus any links to Plus-exclusive back ends or Discords.]

And it’s time for your subscriber-exclusive GameDiscoverCo Plus Friday newsletter, folks. So, this Friday newsletter is gradually turning into something simple: we want to understand which premium PC/console games are set up for success - or are actually performing well.

This is - it turns out - surprisingly difficult to monitor. So every Friday, we pull from a bunch of data scrapes, whether it be more sophisticated coding (Steam Hype, Twitch), or good old manual charts (Switch, now Epic Games Store) to tell you how we think games are doing - and why. So… here we go.

[Reminder of your other perks: here’s the GameDiscoverCo Plus Steam ‘Hype’ data (name: REDACTED ; pass: REDACTED), here’s the GameDiscoverCo Plus-exclusive Discord server. And we’ll have a Hype front-end upgrade and a new perk - an eBook - rolling out in the next few weeks.]

Steam Hype: it’s all about Biomutant!

If you want to know what the big release on Steam is of next week - that’s pretty darn easy. It’s Experiment 101 and THQ Nordic’s Biomutant, which has had a long development and hype cycle - the dev was bought by THQ Nordic back in 2017 - but just keeps growing interest.

The “open-world, post-apocalyptic Kung-Fu fable RPG” is actually #2 on all unreleased Steam games from a wishlist point of view, and has a whopping 182,000 Steam followers. (Maybe towards 2 million wishlists, then?) And it’s poised to do great on console platforms too, since it’s so AAA-looking - even though it’s only had around 20 devs working on it.

Needless to say, with this much hype, there may be some expectation/hype adjustment to be done. But deeper games like this are the ones that can overperform, so we’ll be looking keenly. Otherwise, here’s next week’s Top 10 for Steam Hype, the custom game charts we generate based on pre-release wishlists, followers, and more:

Just going through these and pointing out some of the more interesting entries:

  • Tripwire’s meme-y shark sim Maneater has already been out on Epic Games Store and Xbox/PlayStation, and now comes to Steam and Switch on the anniversary of its EGS debut - when its PC EGS exclusivity was finished. This seems like a GaaS-y, uh, gas, so we’d expect it to have pretty good long-term sales.

  • King Of Seas is 3DClouds and Team 17’s venture into the ‘pirate ARPG’ world, and it actually looks like a bunch of fun. However, because of successful games like Sea Of Thieves (I know it’s different, but it’s still pirates!), sometimes people have excess expectations for piratical shenanigans. So we’ll see if this one is modest but perfectly-formed.

  • Elsewhere, yet another Warhammer game - this one from Gasket Games & Focus Home and a turn-based strategy title in a less familiar Warhammer universe, and the Steam version of the formerly EGS-exclusive (and strangely not that heralded?) Mechwarrior 5 are also notable in the line-up. Among many others!

Looking at the real-time Steam revenue charts for ‘right this second on a Friday’, you’ll see some games we talked about this week _and_ last week:

Right at the top is Biomutant (which can be pre-ordered!), shortly followed by Sony’s Days Gone, our big tip from last week which is indeed performing very well. It’s already at 3,000 Very Positive reviews - so 100-200,000 copies - in just 4 days on sale.

Elsewhere, the Mass Effect remaster, Resident Evil Village, and the full release of Subnautica: Below Zero continue to crowd the top-revenue charts. Also interesting to see Swords Of Legends Online in here - can’t tell if the Chinese-dev, Gameforge-published game is up there due to Chinese pre-orders, but would suspect so.

Other points of interest - briefly near-topping the charts was Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, an expensive ($39.99) expansion to Frontier’s top-selling ‘this is what Star Citizen should have been’ galaxy sim. But it only has 36% positive reviews, and looks like it has a number of bugs and performance issues that need clearing up.

Wrapping up on last week’s Hype picks - ‘old person sim’ Just Die Already vaulted out the door with 144 Steam reviews in first few days. But they’re Mixed because the feedback is ‘almost too silly’ - imprecise physics-y controls, etc.

Off-road vehicle sim sequel SnowRunner is indeed blasting it - 354 Very Positive reviews, and we’d expect lots more. Siege sim Siege Survival: Gloria Victis is doing pleasantly - 238 Very Positive reviews. And finally, EA’s dodgeball shooter Knockout City is doing great so far - but it’s only a couple of hours post-launch, so let’s check again next week…

Nintendo Switch: Subnautica goes large!

As is customary, let’s have a hunt around in the UK Switch eShop ‘recent’ rankings - here’s the Google Drive doc for Plus subscribers that’s updated twice a week. Here’s the brief takeaways we’ve got here:

  • There’s definitely been more effort to convert technically complex games to Switch recently. And both Unknown Worlds’ underwater adventure game Subnautica and the standalone Subnautica: Below Zero launching on the same day is the most recent notable example of that. (Not sure what sales expectations are or regional performance, but having them both in the UK Top 20 ain’t bad!)

  • Another example of this, of course, is SnowRunner, which should run higher up the chart than its current ranking, thanks to the Switch charts being based on 14 days of sales. It’s actually notable how many complex 3D games are higher up the charts on Switch nowadays. (Is it just me, or is the ‘cute 2D indie’ fading out a bit?)

  • Oh, in case you were wondering, Famicom Detective Club, the high new entry is a Nintendo-published remake of thirty year old visual novels, and these get wrapped up enough in first-party mystique to make them hits. (Also, they’re good visual novels!)

Re-debuting: the Epic Games Store charts!

Even though we were a little dismissive of Epic Games Store’s long-term trajectory against Steam when looking at Epic/Apple lawsuit data, we still think their store is worth monitoring for sales trends. This is especially true for AAA-style games and exclusives, which can sell well on EGS.

So we’re starting (thanks to GameDiscoverCo associate Morwull!) an Epic Games Store Top 25 list, updated twice a week in this Plus-exclusive Google Drive document. It’ll grab the EGS Top 25 page - which seems to be the same worldwide, and is updated daily nowadays. We think it now tracks top revenue games in some meaningful way.

We won’t give a detailed analysis of these charts - which seem to include revenue from F2P games, but ignore Fortnite - this time. But you can see some affinity with the Steam charts, in terms of Days Gone and Elite Dangerous having launches that would cause their revenue to spike. (And Snowrunner bumping back up the chart, due to its wider release!)

But expect us to come back to the EGS charts over time and try to divine some kind of trend - at least after the Epic Mega Sale potentially scrambles rankings a bit, haha. Until next week….

[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. Thanks for supporting us by subscribing to GameDiscoverCo Plus!]