Mike Rose, the CEO of No More Robots, a company specializing in independent game publishing, has published an analysis that shows that sales of indie games on Steam have fallen dramatically compared to the previous year, as have their revenue and average price. Rose argues that the reasons for this are the low prices of individual titles, the growing popularity of free-to-play productions, the increasing number of items appearing on Steam every month, subscriptions like Origin Access, Uplay or Xbox Game Pass, and the swelling "pile of shame" that effectively distracts players from new titles. He sees solutions to this problem in the correct pricing of games, creating a community around the titles and better understanding of the needs of players.
Before we discuss the results of Rose's analysis, we must point out that it is based on estimates and concerns the first year after the release of a title. The author did not take into account platforms other than Steam, as it is currently responsible for 95% of video game sales.
Thus, as far as the sales of independent games are concerned, the average number of copies that players bought in 2018 is 25 thousand (median - 5 thousand); in 2019, however, only 3 thousand copies (median - 1.5 thousand). Then we have the the revenue (after deducting taxes, the share collected by Valve or even money refunds), whose average from 2018 is 275 thousand dollars (and the median - 30 thousand), while in 2019 - 46 thousand dollars (while the median - 16 thousand) respectivelt. In addition, we can look at the prices of games, which in 2018 cost an average of 13 dollars (median - 12 dollars), and in 2019 - 11 dollars (median - 10 dollars).
Rose also shows how things are going in individual price segments. Apparently, games priced at a maximum of $10 are currently finding about a thousand buyers (median), bringing a net income of 6 thousand dollars (median). Productions costing from 11 to 15 dollars sell in the number of 2 thousand copies, earning about 35 thousand dollars. Then we have the items for which we have to pay from 16 to 20 dollars - they find about 2.5 thousand buyers, and the account of their creators is credited with 55 thousand dollars. At the end - titles priced at more than 21 dollars, which finf around of 5 thousand players, bringing net income at the level of 200 thousand dollars.
It is therefore not particularly surprising that, according to Rose, one way to improve the situation is to create more costly production. Since the higher the price, the better the sales, apparently the players assume that it is not worth looking at the cheap stuff.
Finally, let's take a closer look at the author of the report. Well, he is credible due to the fact that his company has published such games as Descenders, Not Tonight, Hypnospace Outlaw and Nowhere Prophet. In addition, he previously worked for tinyBuild Games, which delivered games such as Punch Club, Party Hard and Clustertruck during "his time". In addition, Mike Rose worked for Gamasutra, Kotaku and PocketGamer.
As for the methodology used by the author, Rose did not take into account both the productions from the AAA segment and the positions that did not gain at least ten user reviews (we are talking about 700 games out of 900 released between 5 July and 6 August 2019), and thus - in twelve months they will not even earn 5 thousand dollars. The calculations themselves were made on the basis of 'publicly available statistics'.
- Steam - official website
- No More Robots - official website