No More Robots founder Mike Rose has released a report intimating that changes in the industry mean indie developers should be charging more for their games on Steam.
Entitled “How well are PC games selling in 2019?”, Rose’s report analysed sales from July 5th to August 6th, 2019 – during which around 900 new games released on Steam – and concluded that the “average game” was selling 70 per cent fewer copies than a year ago owing to a combination of heightened competition and competing subscription services, leading to a 47 per cent drop in revenue year-on-year.
For the analysis, Rose excluded triple-A titles and only included games that had at least 10 user reviews. Rose also excluded to the top and bottom five titles to “reduce noise from outliers”. With about 170 games left in the analysis, he then drew down data such as store page review numbers, prices, Steam group numbers, and calculated estimates of first-month and first-year revenues.
“The average, at least semi-marketed game on Steam currently makes roughly $16,000 revenue (across 1,500 units) in its first year on sale,” Rose added. “Games released in 2019, are making around half as much money as games released in 2018. Developers are pricing their games too low – higher prices are, on average, resulting in better sales, and much better revenues.
“It’s tricky to pin down exactly why this is happening,” he added, “but: the average developer is pricing their game lower, which definitely isn’t helping them. You could argue more people are playing free games like Fortnite, LoL, and Apex Legends. The number of games coming out is still rising month by month, subscription services could be eroding perception of value in games, and player backlogs are filling up thanks in part to these services.”
To remain competitive, Rose suggests indie developers “build communities around [their] games” and “understand better why people might choose to buy [their] game”.
“Price your game appropriately!” Rose concluded. “Going for a lower price does not increase sales. Your game is worth more than you believe. Please stop thinking that your game is going to sell itself. Have a marketing plan, otherwise no-one will hear about your game.”