Hi all. Dave here. It’s been awhile. We’ve been plugging away on Technobabylon and haven’t had a lot of time for blogging, but there’s been a new development recently that I Have Thoughts about. Thoughts that can’t be encapsulated in a 140 character tweet.
You might have heard about this new thing called “Steam Spy.” It pulls user data from Steam and allows anyone to see the number of people that own any particular game. What that means is that it lets you see the Steam sales statistics for any game that’s on the service.
Everyone is lauding it as this Awesome Thing, but I have to be honest – I am super conflicted. For most of Wadjet Eye’s existence, the majority of the profit went to me and my wife. So giving away sales stats was the equivalent of letting you peek into my bank account to see how much was in there. We are fairly private people, and giving away that kind of personal information was just not something we were mentally prepared to do. Even now, with several developers and two full-timers on our payroll, we aren’t comfortable with it.
So hello, Steam Spy. I guess that’s all changed. This is the new reality and I suppose developers like me will have to adjust. Fortunately, the service only gives the number of sales and not the actual money that exchanged hands. Unfortunately, this has the side effect of people looking at our sales stats and doing comparisons and adding things up and trying to determine how much money we have. Some are even going as far as to ask me personally if their estimates are correct. Some expressed worry that we are going out of business. So… yeah. Exactly the kind of speculation I wanted to avoid.
BUT, if this is the new normal, I will have learn to embrace it. So let’s nip all this speculation in the bud and discuss these sexy Steam Spy Stats:
Gemini Rue: 230,524
Blackwell Legacy: 118,446
Blackwell Deception: 68,138
Golden Wake: 15,920
Blackwell Unbound: 101,889
Blackwell Convergence: 98,705
Blackwell Epiphany: 7,005
There is some margin of error and not all of these numbers are accurate, but they are close enough. Also, it’s very important to remember that Steam is not the only distributor out there. There’s GoG, direct sales, and various bundles like Groupies. So these numbers are in actuality much higher. But for the sake of simplicity, I am going to use ONLY numbers that are available publicly via Steam Spy and nothing else.
Looking at that list by itself, it’s easy to make some assumptions. Number one, it looks like Blackwell Epiphany totally tanked when compared to everything else. And yet, I have gone on record saying that game was our most profitable. So what gives?
First of all, remember the age we live in. This is the age of bundles, extreme discounts, and rock bottom sale prices. The older the game, the most likely it has been on sale a number of times, or been in a bundle. All of our games have been in various holiday deals, Humble Bundles, flash sales, and so on. So it’s only natural that their sales numbers are significantly higher, but it’s important to remember that those games were sold with steep steep discounts during that time. In some cases as low as a penny a copy during a bundle sale!
Blackwell Epiphany, on the other hand, is still fairly new and has NOT been in any major sales yet. So 7,005 copies were sold on Steam at retail price or close to it. So if you do the math… 7,005 copies at a cost of $14.99 each… it yielded us a gross profit of $105,004.95 for that game alone. That amount will only jump higher once it starts the rounds of sales, bundles, and promotions. Also helping us is that Blackwell Epiphany is a game we own, versus one we publish; so there are no developers to give royalties to and all of that money stays right in our coffers. We’re a small mom and pop operation, so that money goes a long way. None of our other games earned us that amount of money so fast without going on sale first, so that’s why I’m not lying when I say Blackwell Epiphany is our most profitable game.
Nobody knows more than me how easy it is to collate data, study it, compare it, and then come to the absolute wrong conclusions. I’ve discussed this before, but there are several other instances of me being SURE I cracked some kind of code and then getting bitten in the butt because of it. This new data trove is no exception. Steam Spy is a useful tool, there are many many unknown factors to consider.
Anyway, the data is out there now. If anyone has any questions about it, feel free to ask!