The number of games on Steam is steadily increasing every year, but most of them earn less than $1,000 in lifetime revenue. While the overall picture may seem grim, the situation is not all that bad if you take a closer look at the data.
- There are currently over 71k games on Steam, 67% of which have a lifetime revenue* of less than $5,000. More than half of all titles have never made more than $1,000.
*Note: This is gross revenue (before Valve’s 30% cut), also not taking into account DLC and in-app purchases. Gamalytic uses its own proprietary algorithm to estimate revenue by using concurrent player numbers, an advanced version of the review multiplier method, and publicly disclosed sales data (for further adjustments).
- Over the past three years, more than 41k games have been released on Steam, or 58% of the total.
- In 2023 so far, 40 games came out on the platform per day on average.
- As competition increases, the market becomes more saturated. 50% of games released in the last three years grossed $500 or less.
- 13.4% of titles made between $5k and $50k, and 5.6% reached over $200k in gross revenue (this is less than 2,300 projects).
- It is worth noting that more than 70% of all games released on Steam during that period are hobbyist projects, meaning they are self-funded by devs who create these projects in their spare time and not always aim to make money.
- According to Gamalytics, if we excluded all completely free titles, the median revenue would be $700. For games priced at more than $5, the median is closer to $4,000 ($17k for projects priced at over $10).
- Despite the market’s oversaturation, the number of successful games (with over $10k in gross revenue in their first three months) is increasing every year: 2,067 such titles in 2022 vs. 1,850 in 2021 and 1,649 in 2020.
- Visual novels and NSFW titles are one of the most overcrowded genres on Steam, with over 4,000 projects released in each category in recent years. However, their median revenue is between $1,000 and $2,000.
- The graph below shows that Steam users are voting with their wallets for deeper, more gameplay-centric genres. For example, the median revenue for games in the Open World Survival Craft category is about $10k, with only 300 released titles. 4X Strategy and Colony Sim have the median of $8,000, with 183 and 444 projects released respectively.
In the recent GameDiscoverCo newsletter, Simon Carless shared some interesting thoughts on this data and the state of Steam in general.
He noted that the “amount of investment going into the PC/console game market isn’t transferring to reliable returns,” with the market gravitating towards big hits and GaaS-style titles. At the same time, more and more smaller, self-funded/published games are getting a slice of the pie.
As Carless summed it up, “modestly staffed publishers fishing in the right subgenres who split their bets between many low-budget titles are weathering this storm. But anyone who’s been aggressive in trying to scale and didn’t come up with a giant, recurring-revenue hit is having — and will continue to have — a rough time. What worked in 2018 won’t work in 2023 — it’s the market!”