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Stardew Valley Made More Money On Steam Than Most Holiday Blockbusters

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Steam Spy just released a big 2016 data dump, and it’s certainly revealing.

Valve revealed the top 100 most money-making Steam games of 2016, but they didn’t provide any data beyond vague rankings. Steam Spy, on the other hand, offers data for days, but it’s all estimated, albeit fairly rigorously. Here are their most interesting findings:

  • About 370 million games got purchased or otherwise picked up in 2016. “Of course, that includes the sales outside of Steam, bundles, giveaways and free promotions,” added Steam Spy’s Sergey Galyonkin.
  • 5,245 new games were released on Steam in 2016. The number’s been steadily increasing over the years, going from a mere 565 in 2013, to 1,772 in 2014, to 2,964 in 2015. This year, nearly 600 games were released in December alone.
  • While Steam now houses significantly more games than it did in previous years (nearly 40 percent of all games on Steam were released in 2016), revenue from game sales seems to have stagnated. Steam Spy estimates the 2016 total at somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.3 billion to $3.6 billion. They estimated a $3.5 billion total in 2015.
  • That said, Steam Spy’s Galyonkin added that Steam is generating tons of money elsewhere, in ways he can’t measure accurately. Microtransactions, especially, are only becoming more prolific as Steam opens the floodgates ever wider. “CSGO and Dota 2 have been improving in-game monetization steadily by adding more reasons for people to spend money,” Galyonkin told me in an email. “And then there is a number of 3rd-party free-to-play titles on Steam that seem to perform quite well: War Thunder, Paladins, Warframe, SMITE. GTA V also sells in-game currency for GTA Online.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
  • As far as individual game sales go, No Man’s Sky made the most money of any self-published game, despite the negative reception (and because of a massive marketing campaign). Stardew Valley also did extremely well, pulling in more money from pure unit sales on Steam than heavy hitters like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Dishonored 2, Mafia III, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
  • People really like Civilization. Also Grand Theft Auto. Oh, and it seems like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is doing pretty alright.
  • And finally, the (in my opinion) most interesting insight: there weren’t really any big new crafting/survival hits in 2016. Games like Ark: Survival Evolved kept on trucking, but the genre failed to produce its Next Big Thing. Strategy and simulation games, however, had a sudden explosion of popularity. Steam Spy pointed to big rags-to-riches hits like Stardew Valley, RimWorld, Factorio, Planet Coaster, Slim Rancher, Scrap Mechanic, and Youtubers Life as well as games from established companies like Civilization VI, XCOM 2, Stellaris, Total War: Warhammer, Football Manager 2017, and Master of Orion.

Do you see any other interesting trends in Steam Spy’s data? And did you buy more Steam games this year than in previous years, or fewer?

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