Valve's alteration of how it conducts its Steam Winter Sale appears to have paid off.
In short: More customers bought more games across more of the Steam catalog,” was the headline summary of a Valve post that was seemingly mistakenly posted to the Steam VR page, although not before it was captured by SteamDB.
This year Valve altered its usual sales formula by doing away with its flash sales and concentrating instead on persistent discounts, Steam Trading Cards and encouraging users to browse its catalogue through the Discovery Queue.
The result was that there were three times as many product page views than in any previous Steam sale event.
Our hypothesis was that this new format would be a better way to serve customers that may only be able to visit Steam once or twice during the 13-day event,” Valve said. We also saw this change as an opportunity to showcase a deeper variety of titles to customers each day, while having confidence that any game being highlighted would be at its lowest discount.
By dropping users a free Steam Trading Card for browsing through their personalized Discovery Queue (up to three times each day) many customers were exposed to 36 different product pages every day for each of the 13 days of the event.
One of our concerns going into the Winter Sale was that extrinsically motivating customers with a trading card might encourage people to just click through their Discovery Queue and not actually pay attention to the games being presented. It turned out that customers found a lot of value in using the Discovery Queue, resulting in a huge up-tick in sales and wishlist additions.
Looking back over wishlist data, we typically see only a slight increase in the rate of customers adding items to their wishlist during sales versus during non-sale time periods. However, this year we saw a 197% increase in the rate of wishlist additions during the sale. Some of these additions were then subsequently purchased during the sale while others remain on customer wishlists as indications of future interest in those games.
Valve also revealed that it wasn't just the big boys that benefitted, either. Titles outside of the 500 highest grossing saw their traffic share spike by a factor of four, collecting 35 per cent of all page views. Revenue for that group was up 45 per cent.
Elsewhere online, Steam Spy put together its own report on the Steam Winter sale.
Warning that its data is not 100 per cent accurate, it reckons that at least 46m games were sold during the period. Steam Spy can only count games that sold over 1,000 copies, meaning the real number will undoubtedly be higher.
Even so, 46m, represents a 50 per cent jump over last year's Summer Sale and something in the region of $270m in revenue – which is twice as much as the Summer Sale.
Steam Spy also reports that the average sale discount was lower in Winter (57.52%) versus Summer (66.63%).