Byte vs Brick: This Week’s PC Charts

I will happily repost this picture until the end of time

I KEEP saying I’ll do this regularly, but something about numbered lists makes me curl into a tiny ball and weep for mother. Anyway, let’s do it this week and maybe I’ll be a better boy again next week. Here’s the top ten best-selling released PC games on Steam last week, in comparison to the top 10 at UK retail. As always, there are some verrrry interesting variations, which have much to say about both Steam and retail’s own peccadilloes…


1. F.E.A.R. 3
2. Terraria
3. Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga
4. Alice: Madness Returns
5. Homefront
6. Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012
7. Dungeon Siege III
9. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Digital Premium Edition
9. Portal 2
10. FEAR Collection

Well done, FEAR 3. But a much heartier Well Done to ongoing indie breakout Terraria, which is right up there punching the big boys in their spawning zones. ‘This year’s Minecraft’ is a silly thing to say about anything, but hell – it’s the closest we’ve come to it so far in 2011.

Also, notice the importance of sales – Divinity II and Homefront are both there by dint of mega-discounts.

Over in shopland, meanwhile, things are a little different.


1. The Sims 3: Generations
2. Football Manager 2011
3. F.E.A.R. 3
4. The Sims 3
5. Shogun 2: Total War
6. Portal 2
7. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
8. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
9. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
10. The Sims: Medieval

The presence of Football Manager rather give away the fact these are UK-specific charts, while the Sims suggests the difference between someone who buys games at retail and someone who buys via Steam. I’d be willing to bet that a whole lot of the people buying The Sims 3 last week would be rather surprised if someone called them a gamer. Shogun 2’s ongoing placing in the retail chart also speaks to Total War’s ability to attract players from outside of the always-online crowd. No wonder SEGA describe the Creative Assembly as the current jewel in their crown.

Meanwhile, WoW and Starcraft aren’t available on Steam. If they were, I wonder where they’d place in that top ten?

I notice that the ‘Forever’ in Duke Nukem Forever is quickly becoming even more ironic than it already was, too. Better luck next time around, big fella.

A good week for FEAR 3 all told, though. Who’s bought it, and what do you think? Jim’s working on a WIT at the moment, so expect that soon.


  1. Rii says:

    Umm, aren’t retail figures based on the eminently intuitive metric of units shipped/sold whereas Steam foregoes such prosaics in favour of lies and bullshit, i.e. dollar throughput?

    • johnpeat says:

      The eternal mystery of what charts actually represent is likely to never be solved.

      It’s hard to see that retail chart and not think that PC gaming is a dead market tho…

    • Lilliput King says:

      I don’t think there’s ever been great debate over the steam figures. They’ve said many times they represent cash generated rather than units sold. Nothing wrong with that, to my mind.

      Does mean comparing these charts as if they were like for like is odd, though – if you compared UK retail units sold vs UK retail revenue generated the charts would probably still look quite different.

    • RagingLion says:

      I’d never heard those lists were based on cash made before. That makes Terraria’s achievement even greater for being right up there.

      Edit: just realised johnpeat said exactly the same thing below me. Oh well … it’s true.

    • Xocrates says:

      I’m pretty sure that Steam were units sold.
      I recall that there used to be a secondary list based on income (mostly because of the sales), but as far as I know that list is gone.

      EDIT: Oh, wait, missed the post bellow this. I stand corrected then

    • Milky1985 says:

      Its based on revenue which makes the fact that the £8 terraria is second to all the other games show that either nothing else is selling or terraria is selling like hot cakes.

  2. johnpeat says:

    The general belief about the Steam charts is that they’re driven by total revenue and not unit sales (which makes Terraria’s achievement much greater)

    No idea where that rumour started – I suspect that the reality (like most ‘in house’ charts) is that it’s a list they make-up as they feel like it – to suit whatever they’re promoting at the time.

    Good chance the Steam Summer Sale will start today which will render all that moot ofc. :)

    • Aemony says:

      Rumour? It is based on an official statement made by a Valve representative on the Steam User’s Forums during the Christmas sale last year, when the sales lists was inaccurate. He also mentioned that they update the lists once each 24 hours, but during the big sales they change this to once each third hour.
      For your sake I even searched the original post: link to
      Now, give me some kudos, damnit.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Here, have a kudo! And thanks.

    • Tatourmi says:

      And have another one, here ;)

  3. Andrew Dunn says:

    It’s good to see therealjohnpeat still passing off half-baked opinions as gospel even though he’s long ago left Rllmukforum behind.

  4. CMaster says:

    Noone ever answers if the Retail charts include mail-order – the likes of Play, Amazon, Zavvi etc.
    That seems kind of silly.

    And yeah, one has to wonder if we should take the Steam charts any more seriously that the “charts” you see in store at Game, which are pretty obviously made up a lot of the while.

    Oh and while Football Manager is clearly something of a UK thing, it’s pretty damn popular as PC games go – coming in at 6th most played today on Steam

    • Azradesh says:

      I ask this all the time and no one every gives me an answer.

    • Leandro says:

      Considering the game has come out more than a year ago, I’d say that’s saying a lot about Football Manager staying power and impressive addictivity.

      Now if you will excuse me, I have to go, SSC Napoli will not win the Serie A by itself.

    • Om says:

      Its amazing how much FM flies under the radar, RPS included. Maybe its because Sports Interactive don’t really do the whole ‘six months of pre-release hype’ thing. There are currently more people playing FM2010 on Steam than DNF or Fear 3. That’s a remarkable achievement for a game that’s coming on two years now and has a fairly limited geographic base

    • Bhazor says:

      Zavvi? I had no idea they were still around.

  5. KingAl says:

    Also of note: the FEAR Collection, i.e. a bunch of old games, is in the top Steam charts. When would something like that ever happen at retail, whether by units or revenue?

  6. Holybasil says:

    I’m happy terraria is successful. I enjoy that a lot more than minecraft.

  7. WJonathan says:

    Needs a staring hair extensions tag.

  8. phosgene says:

    Are those Steam sales figures also regional? Seems like what I’ve been seeing on the U.S. store page has looked a bit different.

  9. 0p8 says:

    divinity2:DKS is one of my fave rpg’s, glad to see its gettin a revive coz of the the price drop.
    personally i think the steam chart isnt made up but who knows.
    oh and fear3 imo is nowhere near the quality of the first (or second); the cover system has completely ruined the experience for me.

    more importantly-
    regenerating health < health packs /armour

    • Jumwa says:

      I played the demo of Divinity II a while ago and loved it, but have been waiting an eternity for it to go on sale. So I finally picked it up with this one.

    • 0p8 says:

      yeah its a great game,and includes the expansion.

  10. Gap Gen says:

    Yeah, I hate numbered lists too. Let’s try:
    Phylum. F.E.A.R. 3
    Gubbins. Terraria
    Parsifal. Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga
    Truck. Alice: Madness Returns
    Larder. Homefront
    Michael. Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012
    Tapestry. Dungeon Siege III
    Lickety-Spit. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Digital Premium Edition
    Nutty. Portal 2
    Gigantic. FEAR Collection

  11. hamster says:

    We see the relative positions of the sales whether in revenue or units sold, but what we don’t see is the actual number value. I think it’s fair to assume retail outsells digital by quite a margin, so it’s probably not that meaningful to compare between the two.

    • CMaster says:

      I’m not sure thats at all a reasonable assumption for PC games these days. Especially as retail probably doesn’t include mail-order.

    • Meat Circus says:

      It’s not a reasonable assumption. In fact, it’s plain wrong by about half a decade.

  12. Kirioth says:

    Terraria being 2nd on Steam is glorious, regardless of how that chart is put together. More players for our server for a start.

    And of course it’s nice to an indie developer getting a decent reward for their efforts.

  13. Hunam says:

    Shogun 2 is kinda of like Civ in that it has a big following my people who pretty much only play that sort of game and don’t really get involved in the community or anything else.

  14. RenegadeRed says:

    I FEAR how a Terrariable game like Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga could outAlicell a better game about playing a role on the Homefront gaming market, a much more Magical, Dungeon Siege-fiIIIed game, called The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. I feel like I would need a Portal 2 a parallel dimension in order to bottle up this great, heaving FEAR Collection I have building inside of me.

    1. F.E.A.R. 3
    2. Terraria
    3. Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga
    4. Alice: Madness Returns
    5. Homefront
    6. Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012
    7. Dungeon Siege III
    9. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Digital Premium Edition
    9. Portal 2
    10. FEAR Collection

    You guys at RPS know that the number 8 comes between 7 and 9 right? Right.

    • bonjovi says:


      Divinity II is actually one of the better ones out there. Not as good as Witcher 2 but it’s up there since it dropped in price not a long ago.

  15. Creeping Death says:

    “Shogun 2′s ongoing placing in the retail chart also speaks to Total War’s ability to attract players from outside of the always-online crowd. ”

    And then the customer gets home with their copy of Shogun 2, realises it requires Steam, then bitches on the steam forums showing not only their inability to look at the back of a box but also their inability to google installing from a disc :P

  16. The Hammer says:

    I think Shogun 2 is high up there because GAME has been selling it for fifteen quid lately, which is a bargain for such a recently released, high-quality game.

    (I haven’t got it yet, because so many other games to enjoy first. Hopefully it’ll be on the Steam summer sale!)

  17. vodka and cookies says:

    The Total War games are often advertised on the History Channel so Sega knows where to sell these to.

    A good showing for FEAR 3 it at least is trying something different gameplay wise for an FPS, it’s not often you can truly say that.

    • Cinnamon says:

      The best promotion they had in my opinion was when they used the Rome engine in the Time Commanders show on the beeb. The relationship to things like the History Channel pre-dates any involvement with SEGA.

    • Kaira- says:

      Actually, it would seem that it wasn’t Total War-engine, but something similar.

    • Cinnamon says:

      It looked like Rome and the strategies they talked about were often ones that you could apply in the game so it wasn’t too shabby. And the only citation on the wiki is an interview saying that they pretty much used a tweaked version of the Rome engine.

    • Kaira- says:

      Hm, true that, I should’ve read the whole article. But now it seems pretty confusing, first they claim it’s not Total War engine and then a sentence or two later they say it’s pretty much Rome: Total War engine with a few tweaks.

  18. Unaco says:

    F.E.A.R 3? F.E.A.R 3?!? Damn… how dense where the Devs/Publishers of that game? They totally missed a trick in failing to call their game F.3.A.R. I would totally have bought it if they’d done that. As it is, no sale!

    Anyway, that’s besides the point. The point being, your STEAM chart is wrong, unless it’s from some source other than the STEAM store page as is today. I’m seeing STEAM Charts as this…

    1. Divinity 2: DKS
    2. Homefront
    3. Terraria
    4. F.E.A.R 3
    5. TW2
    6. DnD: DaggerDale
    7. Portal 2
    8. Magic: The Gathering – Some Nonsense.
    9. GTA:SA
    10. Dungeon Siege III

    Again, shows the power of sales, with DKS, HF, GTA. But I think it says more with absences… No Alice, less than a week after release?

    • 0p8 says:

      “F.E.A.R 3? F.E.A.R 3?!? Damn… how dense where the Devs/Publishers of that game? They totally missed a trick in failing to call their game F.3.A.R.”

      They did call it “F.3.A.R”.
      Does this mean you have to buy it now?

    • Unaco says:

      No. It is only stylised as F3AR in the Logo… it’s called FEAR 3. Also, I think you missed the joke.

    • 0p8 says:

      i didnt miss the joke.

    • Unaco says:

      If you got the joke, then why are you asking me if I’m going to buy it?

    • thegooseking says:

      I felt rather the same when the EA Store’s Easter sale did not include some form of pun based on the similarity of ‘EA Store’ and ‘EAster’.

      Now that the EA Store is called Origin, they have missed that opportunity forever.

    • 0p8 says:

      “If you got the joke, then why are you asking me if I’m going to buy it?”


      are you american by any chance?(thats called sarcasm btw)

    • Fierce says:

      I was a little confused at the lack of Alice 2 as well. What the hell is wrong with the UK? Was Alice Liddell too lower-class for them and thus she’s getting snubbed?! Damn Londoners!

      Anyway, GO ALICE! Should’ve been in the Top 3 of Steam for sure. Maybe Divinity 2 went on sale or something.

      An even more interesting question, now that I think about it is how the revenue numbers on Steam compare to the revenue numbers on Origin. EA made quite a fuss with their inclusion of DLC and Alice 1 in their timed Origin exclusive. It would be VERY telling to see who caved and got it off Origin versus who waited to see if it was coming out on Steam on the Friday in order to keep their game collection in one place.

  19. jezcentral says:

    Don’t forget, Steam’s chart is a DAILY chart.

    Tomorrow we will have a completely new Steam chart to compare to retail. (And with different daily sales, it will look a lot different.)

  20. Makariel says:

    There are still people buying Homefront?

  21. Red Rabbit says:

    I love PC hotties. Please post more !

  22. Rinox says:

    Do you think The Sims selling so well in retail is related to its audience? Ie, more casual gamers (who may not know about digital distribution) and – generalization, I know – women, who are known to enjoy the act of ‘shopping’ more than men?

    I’m actually surprised F3AR is doing so well in both charts. I heard it’s supposed to be quite good, but FEAR 2 was such a snoozefest compared to the original that I’m really sceptical.

    • thegooseking says:

      D’oh. I gave my opinion on this below, but I think its to do with shelf-space prominence as much as anything. Bricks and mortar stores have a limited amount of shelf-space, and no search function. So they stock only games that they ‘know’ are going to sell, and they make the games they ‘know’ are really going to sell more prominent.

      With Steam, it’s very low-cost to “stock” a game that’s going to have low numbers, so they don’t have to anticipate what people might want. They can just have (almost) everything and let people decide for themselves. Of course, there’s a question of what to highlight on the front page, but they can (and do) agilely change that depending on buying trends they observe.

  23. Meat Circus says:

    Looks like The Duke has sunk without trace?

    • Xocrates says:

      Not without a trace. It’s on position 15 in the Steam top seller list.

  24. Unaco says:

    You know what? I’m not sure I’m going to take the STEAM charts (on the STEAM Store page) as reliable. Just checking now, and CS:Source is in at number 9, no deal on, no sale on, no special offers or promotions going on.

    • Xocrates says:

      CS:S is often in the top sellers list of most brick and mortar stores I go to.

      I don’t know how that game keeps on going as it does, but it’s presence on Steam’s top ten is not particularly bizarre.

  25. thegooseking says:

    I’m not sure the retail chart speaks more to the type of people that buy at retail.

    I’d suggest it speaks more to the limited number of titles bricks and mortar stores choose to stock.

  26. Carra says:

    I wonder why the heck people would buy the Witcher 2 on steam. Buying it on saved me $16 and got me 2 free, old games.

    Still, I’m glad to see great games still sell well.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      I wonder why the heck people would buy the Witcher 2 on steam.

      link to

    • Vandelay says:

      Remember that this is the UK and we are talking about here. Steam has The Witcher 2 at £34.99. GoG has it at $49.99, which is £31.27 (you may also have to pay an international charge, so £32.27, probably.) Certainly no where near the $16 difference you got.

      As it says on the store page, only those that are from Australia, New Zealand and paying Euros are getting the store credit, which I assume is what you are referring to.

      Expect quite a lot of Steam users have probably never heard of GoG too.

    • Vinraith says:

      A surprising number of people are either unaware that they have other digital options, or unaware what the difference is between Steam and other stores. An even more surprising number of people want all their games on Steam no matter what, and appear to have never heard that old proverb about eggs and baskets.

  27. wengart says:

    Eh, I’m one of those ‘digital only through steam’ people. (although to be honest I’m more like an almost exclusively through Steam person)

    Beyond not wanting to have to deal with multiple DD store apps running on my computer + multiple passwords. I also don’t believe that Steam will go under. Steam may change but it won’t go under. The installed base is so huge as to make it a prime target for a buy out should Valve not be able to run it anymore. I also have all my games downloaded and backed up (hooray for terrabyte hardrives!), and I’m relying on pirates/cracks to make them available to me should Steam go down.

    Also Steam Sales. I swear I probably only 3/4ths of my games due to them.

  28. laddyman says:

    May I ask, who is that bodacious betty in that picture?

  29. Dominic White says:

    Echoing what a few others have said – Divinity 2: DKS is a gem. The original version was horribly rushed out, unbalanced, unrefined and generally not too polished. So the developers continued work on it for another year and re-released it, and this time it actually has a third and final act – it only had two acts in the original version.

    But still, the amazing thing here is Terraria. Re-Logic is three guys. One programmer, one sprite artist, one PR/community management guy. They must all be millionaires by now. Amazing, considering that one reason for the game being launched early was the programmer being in such financial straits that to repair his car, he had to raise some funds, quick.

    I bet he has five cars now.