Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Steam Keeping Quiet

Valve prepares to repel number-seekers.
Steam is the leading digital distributor of games, but the only way we know that is pretty much because they say so. Because they don't release any sales numbers except to the companies whose products they sell, and apparently this isn't gonna change any time soon. According to this article, Valve is not interested in turning over information on sales to NPD, which would dearly love to have some actual numbers to put into their estimates of how much revenue is being generated by digital distribution, freemium, and other monetization methods.

If NPD is not getting numbers from Steam, it certainly makes their numbers for non-retail sales rather vaporous. Then again, we should have known this already... NPD assembles a lot of guesses about non-traditional game revenue numbers, because hard numbers are not being released. I just hope nobody puts too much credence in the numbers NPD puts out...

Meanwhile, as the comments section on this Gamasutra article make clear, Valve is hurting game developers by refusing to provide data. Sales data could be enormously helpful to developers trying to figure out if they have a huge market available to them or not, and how well their game is selling relative to that market. Further, if you can have independent numbers on sales to point to, this is extremely important in getting financing. People who might lend you money kind of like to have some idea if they will get paid back.

I realize Valve may not want to release their numbers directly, but providing them to NPD is a way to get them out to the world with NPD filing off the serial numbers so they can't be directly attached to Steam. Right now Valve is showing they don't really care to help small developers. Maybe they are forgetting that's where they were once upon a time.

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