Developers have to fight old games for the attention of Steam players. So it is better not to underestimate the impact of existing hit titles, which continue to receive thousands of reviews per month, even years after their launch.

Steam review gap: why developers have to compete with old games

Simon Carless touched on this topic in the latest episode of the GameDiscoverCo newsletter. To illustrate how some evergreen titles challenge new releases, the team made this Google spreadsheet.

It compares the top 20 new games of October 2022 by review count in their first 30 days on sale with the top 20 old games by number of reviews in the same period.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II was the number one new game with 124,116 reviews in its first 30 days. Cyberpunk 2077 topped the list of old games with 62,031 new reviews in October.
  • In total, the top 20 new games received 222,548, which is 50% less than the 334,777 reviews for the top 20 old games.
  • The gap gets even bigger if Modern Warfare II is excluded from the list. When GameDiscoverCo replaced it “with a ‘notional game’ that’s a median of the Top 20’s value minus CoD”, they saw that old games received 225% more reviews in October.
  • When looking at the top 40, the difference between new and old games is 74% (and 258% if Modern Warfare II is not taken into account).
  • It is worth noting that only two new games released in October — Modern Warfare II and Victoria 3 — received more than 10,000 reviews. At the same time, there are 10 old titles with 10,000+ new reviews.
  • Some of these old hits are popular free-to-play games, so GameDiscoverCo decided to exclude them from the charts (including the new F2P releases like Marvel Snap and Undecember).
  • However, the gap remains large even in this case — old titles received 19% more reviews in October than the new ones, and 214% more when excluding Modern Warfare II.

Image credit: GameDiscoverCo

Carless noted that Rust, which was first released in Early Access almost nine years ago, received more reviews in October than Gotham Knights did in its first 30 days on sale. He also cited Terraria, which is still getting 15,000 reviews per month, as another example. 

So developers have to compete with not only other new releases, but also with successful GaaS and evergreen titles (as well as their huge audiences, years of post-release support, and content updates).

Of course, you won’t get a complete picture of the current state of the PC market just by comparing the review count of old and new games But this spreadsheet can at least give rise to some pretty interesting thoughts. As Carless concluded, it is vital to see the “entire market more holistically, and [think] about both displacing existing older games, as well as competing against new ones.”

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