As a game developer or publisher on Steam, it's essential to understand the importance of Steam benchmarks and how they can be used to make informed data-driven decisions. In this blog post, we'll dive into the world of Steam benchmarks and I'll show you how to predict the sales of an unreleased game based on publicly available information.
Reviews > Sales
The basic technique to estimate game sales is by using the number of reviews. This is the most common method used by many sites, analysts, and developers. There is a correlation between the number of reviews and sales. However, there are varying opinions on how to get the number of sales from the number of reviews. Developer surveys provide the most accurate figure by which to multiply the number of reviews to get sales. According to the latest survey conducted in 2020, one review equates to 38 sales. For instance, if a game has 668 reviews, it can be estimated to have been bought around 25K times.
Wishlist > Sale
Now that we know how to figure out how many copies have been sold based on the number of reviews, let's move on to predicting the sales of an unreleased game. When it comes to a game that hasn't been released yet, the main quality metric we have is wishlists. Developer surveys indicate that each wishlist generates around 0.2 sales in the first week after release, meaning the conversion from wishlists to purchases in the first week after release is 20%.
Follower > Wishlist
However, the number of wishlists is secret information only available to game developers and Valve. But, thanks to developer surveys, we can estimate the number of wishlists using publicly available data, such as the number of followers. Followers are users who have subscribed to updates about the game on Steam. There is a correlation between the number of followers and the number of wishlists, with each follower estimated to equal around 10 wishlists.
First week > first year
We know how many will sell in the first week after release. But how do we predict first-year sales based on that data? Thankfully, developer surveys give us a helpful median value to estimate first-year sales based on the first-week numbers. According to these surveys, the first-year sales are approximately three times the first-week sales. For example, if 8,000 units are sold in the first week, the estimated sales for the first year would be around 24,000.
It's important to note that this estimate can vary based on several factors such as discount policies and post-release support. Nevertheless, this estimate provides a rough idea of what to expect in the first year and helps developers determine the potential success of the product before its release.
Gross > Net Revenue
Knowing the Gross Revenue, we can roughly say what Net Revenue will be. Net Revenue is about 55% of Gross Revenue. If we sold the game for 10 thousand dollars a year, we would get about 5.5 thousand in our bank account. Knowing this information, we can predict our sales and sales of other games and genres. We can estimate the sales of entire niches and take a more balanced approach, for example, to the decision of starting the development of a game.
In conclusion, Steam benchmarks are crucial in making informed data-driven decisions in game development and publishing. By understanding the basics of estimating sales based on the number of reviews and predicting sales for unreleased games using wishlists and followers, developers and publishers can make better-informed decisions and improve the success of their games.
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