All gamers have it. Not all gamers will admit it, but we all have it: The pile of shame. The games that we bought because they were cheap, the games we accepted because they were free, the games we purchased because they came in a Humble Bundle and it was nice to give your money to a good cause. And in Ars Technica’s breakdown of Steam and how it works, unsurprisingly that leads to a rather large collective pile of gaming shame.
Ars Technica has debuted a semi-regular feature called “Steam Gauge”, and they’ve started it off with an enormous data scrape and extrapolation from that set. As we all know, both the games we’ve played and the games we’ve bought are a part of our public Steam profile. All Kyle Orland did was compile the data, and the results are actually quite fascinating.
There are some less than surprising data points, like the fact that Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 are by far the most commonly downloaded games on Steam. In fact, the top ten games on Steam are all Valve’s. But then things get interesting:
As you can see, just because a game is registered to a lot of Steam accounts doesn’t mean it’s popular. Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, for instance, is the third-most popular game on the service by ownership, registered to about 12.8 million Steam accounts by our count. But the tech demo, which shows off some deleted content from Half-Life 2, has only been actively loaded up by about 2.1 million of those owners, placing it behind 35 other Steam games by that metric.
It also shows just how obsessive some games’ fans really are. For example, Skyrim and Civilization V have the same number of overall owners, but Civ players have logged 100 million more hours on Steam. And Football Manager 2014 waxes them both by that metric. It doesn’t have nearly the sales, but fans play that game for hours.
Perhaps the most telling statistic is that sales, and playtime, are bolstered by a handful of massive hits, while the rest of the games accept relative crumbs. Valve has done a good job of supporting the indie developer, but really, the truth is that no amount of indie cred can make up for the lack of a marketing budget. That doesn’t mean, however, that indie games can’t do well in the long tail.
Via Ars Technica