Sign of the times. As I emerged from a panel at GDC in San Francisco, I saw a huge line that wrapped around itself, easily the biggest I’ve seen at GDC so far. Curious, I decided to see which presentation it was for. The sign at the door read “Making Indie Games That Sell.”


Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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Nathan Grayson

on the upside, the panel ended up being more realistic than cynical. the person presenting repeatedly said that if you’re in games purely to make money, you should probably go do something else. they also shared some interesting stats about steam, which they got by running numbers from steamspy. such as:

positive user and critic reviews help games sell, but only roughly as much as having a “mature” esrb rating, which is a surprisingly reliable predictor of success on steam. the median mature game on steam makes 36 times the revenue of the median E rated game.

“crime” is the tag that currently brings in the most money (just like in real life).

exposure via youtubers can help highly replayable games (they cited the example of pewdiepie playing rhythm roguelike crypt of the necrodancer, which apparently earned the devs $60,000), but linear story-driven games rarely gain much from popular youtubers.