Discoverability expert Simon Carless has shared his thoughts on how developers can quantify their game’s success on Steam based on the number of user reviews. According to his calculations, only 1.5% of new titles released in October 2021 sold at least 40k units in week one.
Carless opened up about it in the latest GameDiscoverCo newsletter. He noted that there were about 965 new game releases on Steam in October 2021 (interestingly, VG Insights previously reported 1229 new releases in that month).
The top-reviewed title was excluded from the analysis because it was free-to-play Squid Game-inspired project Crab Game. Other new games in the top-10 included hits like Age of Empires IV, Guardians of the Galaxy, Back 4 Blood, and Inscryption.
As Carless pointed out, one user review on Steam accounts for about 40 copies sold on average.
Taking this data in mind, he concluded that around 6% of all new games released in October sold at least 4k copies in their first week (65 titles with 100+ user reviews). 3.5% of all new titles sold 10k+ units (34 games with 250+ reviews), 2% of all releases could have at least 20k copies sold in their first week (19 games with 500+ reviews), and only around 1.5% of all new games sold 40k+ units (13 titles with 1000+ reviews).
Carless went on to say that those 65 games with 100+ reviews could have reached around $35k in revenue in their first week, taking into account Steam’s commission, refunds, and sales taxes. This calculation was made based on a $15 average game price on Steam globally.
So 6% of new titles will earn around $105k in their first year on sale. 3.5% of games with 250+ week one reviews will make $260k, 2% will make $520k, and 1.5% will reach $1.05 million in revenue at the end of their first year.
When making calculations like this, it is important to take into account a lot of nuances like game prices, which could be lower or much higher than the average $15. You can find Simon Carless’ full breakdown in the full article.