Average indie game Steam sales halve year-on-year

Average indie game Steam sales halve year-on-year
Matthew Jarvis

By Matthew Jarvis

April 28th 2016 at 11:40AM

Steam Spy compares April data to show that Top Ten best-sellers remain stable while more and more games struggle to find traction

New data has seemingly confirmed the fear of many indie developers: it’s getting harder to find success on Steam.

Sergey Galyonkin, creator of data-tracking tool Steam Spy, recently took to Twitter to compare his figures from the first 24 days of April 2015 with the same period this year.

He found that the number of total indie games on the platform rose by more than 50 per cent over the last year, growing from 1,352 in 2015 to 2,099 this month.

However, more games doesn’t necessarily mean more sales; in fact, total monthly copies sold fell by almost two million overall, down from nearly 15 million to just over 13 million.

Galyonkin revealed that the median average number of sales for games tagged as ‘indie’ nearly halved over the same period, plummeting from 5,400 in April 2015 to 2,800 in 2016.

This dent was largely felt by smaller titles, as indie games in the Top Ten best-sellers list remained stable. In total, monthly sales of the Top Ten releases only fell by 2,000 units year-on-year, down from 104,000 to 102,000 – an average decrease of 200 copies per game.

It seems that the increasing difficulty in attracting players had a knock-on effect on price competition, as the average price of indie games sold during the month fell slightly from $9.67 to $8.15. Similarly, the average discount amount rose from 11.8 per cent to 12.9 per cent.

It isn’t just smaller titles that have fallen in popularity among Steam users, however; Galyonkin added that the median average number of owners of any type of game on Steam has also fallen year-on-year, down by around a third from 21,000 last year to 32,000 in 2016.

“The tail becomes longer as more games get released on Steam, but if your game is one of the top indie titles, you're safe,” Galyonkin observed. “The Top 30 indie games are unaffected. That's a lot of space.”

He went on to dismiss fears that the marketplace’s growing library was to blame for the impact on sales: “There is nothing here to imply market saturation or ‘indiepocalypse’.”