A Look At The Only 12 Steam Games That Sold More Than 500k

September 9, 2015

Bestselling games on Steam

As a game developer, it never hurts to look at what titles are selling like hotcakes, especially on a platform you’re considering releasing your own project on. Over the years Steam has grown exponentially for, among other reasons, being one of the most developer friendly platforms out there. Between the “Steam Greenlight” and “Early Access” programs, it’s no surprise why many devs – both indie and big-budget – strive to release their games on Valve’s digital marketplace.

It may come as a surprise, then, that despite Steam boasting 125 active users and 10 million concurrent users, only a dozen games have broken the 500,000 sales mark. In fact, only 6 of those 12 have reached a million units sold. These stats are according to Sergey Galyonkin, founder of Steam stat tracker on Steam Spy. Here’s the list of games:

More Than 1 Million Sold

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • ARK Survival Evolved
  • H1Z1
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Rocket League
  • Besiege

More Than 500,000 Sold

  • Dying Light
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Stranded Deep
  • Killing Floor 2
  • Total War: Attila
  • Pillars of Eternity

Below are a few things we noticed about this list that may just be interesting, or may actually prove useful when deciding which kind of project you’d like to release on Steam someday…

Some Of Those Games Are Still In Early Access

Despite still being considered “incomplete,” Besiege, H1Z1, ARK Survival Evolved, Stranded Deep, and Killing Floor 2 have managed to sell a lot of copies. For those unfamiliar, Early Access allows developers to get vital information by releasing a beta version of their game. Thus, players know they are not playing the final version of the title, and should expect changes (mostly for the better).

The benefits of going with an Early Access release are not without their risks. However, we’re still seeing many players interested in paying money to play games that are still in development. Clearly, gamers are intrigued by the idea of playing a game and, with their help, watching as developers work out kinks, fix bugs, and add content the players themselves suggested.

Pretty Much Any Genre Can Make It Big On Steam

While we doubt an educational or erotic game will ever join the list above, it’s cool to see some variety in terms of genre when looking at the best selling Steam games. Instead of being only first person shooters and action adventure games, we have survival sandbox, city building, computer RPG, strategy, and even a physics based vehicle soccer game.

It’s also worth noting that a good mix of single player and multiplayer games found success on Steam. While the list is dominated by MMOs and games with multiplayer options, fans of one player games have clearly been enjoying The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Cities: Skylines, Stranded Deep, and Pillars of Eternity.

Most Of The Top Selling Games Were Not Indie

It would have been pretty exciting to see the list above dominated by small teams. Who wouldn’t want to see several indie teams find success after risking it all, while sacrificing time and money to finally create a game of their own?

While there are plenty of success stories out there just like this, the truth is that most of the games above had big budgets and publisher support.

The biggest ones are, of course, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto and CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, both of which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make. The majority of the other titles didn’t have budgets of that size, but still had decent amount of cash to spend.

The good news is that a few of the titles on the list were developed by smaller teams with smaller budgets.

The Mean Average Cost Of These Titles Was Around $30

It only takes a couple of minutes browsing through Steam’s marketplace to see how many games are available for a few dollars. If your budget is only between $10 and $20, you’ll have no trouble finding plenty of good titles – and not just during sales.

However, keep in mind that, just like Google Play and the App Store, many of these cheaper titles aren’t even worth the $5 you paid for them.

Judging from the top selling list, players are clearly willing to pay top dollar for the best experiences possible. GTAV, The Witcher 3, and Dying Light are a $60 download, but still have found success. The same goes for like Total War: Attila and Pillars of Eternity, with their $45.99 price. The rest of the games are between the $15 and $30, with only Besiege being less at $6.99.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

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