Steam: King Of Witcher 2 Download Sales

Imagine the giant is Steam: an unseen ant he's crushing is every other distribution platform.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings developers, CD Projekt, have given us the tiniest glimpse into how much Steam dominates the digital distribution market. Their lovely action RPG sold nearly a quarter of a million copies digitally since launch, with a hefty 81% of those coming from Valve’s increasingly monolothic service.

Steam has so far delivered 195,000 copies of the game, CDP announced today, compared to 45,000 copies from all the other distribution services combined. 35,000 of the later were from CDP’s own Good Old Games, leaving the likes of Direct2Drive, Impulse and GamersGate fighting for the relative scraps of the remaining 10,000 sales.

Valve are hugely secretive about their numbers, and most of the developers on there follow suit, but CD Projekt have good reason to be more open about it: their game is huge success. It’s like that time I found a chip in paper folds of my takeaway when I thought I’d finished them all. That was a great, great day to be me.

(The sales figures don’t include retail/etail boxed copies, by the way – with those thrown in, presumably primarily via Europe, the game as a whole had sold almost one million copies back in August.)


  1. sneetch says:

    “195,000 copies of the game, compared to 35,000”

    Wait that means that only 230,000 copies of TW2 were sold? And that’s enough to pay for it? Great if that’s the case.

    • MidoriChaos says:

      I think that’s just digital, not including any boxed copies.

    • The Ninja Foodstuff formerly known as ASBO says:

      And that still equates to roughly £3M overall sales.

    • Jimbo says:

      It’s past a million sales by now (the vast majority at retail, evidently), which is fortunate, because 250k sales really isn’t anything to shout about for a game like this.

    • D3xter says:

      It sold about a million total on PC so far… not that those are “amazing” numbers, it’s about as much as say Torchlight sold, but they’re respectable: link to

      “The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is close to selling a million copies, a representative for developer CD Projekt Red confirmed to Joystiq earlier today. The Warsaw Business Journal reported that the studio had sold 940,000 copies of the gorgeous monster hunter RPG in the first half of 2011, following its launch on May 17.”

      I personally got mine from because of pretty box with stuff in it…

    • tenseiga says:

      yea headline is way misleading

    • Siimon says:


    • Shuck says:

      It’s lucky downloads only appear to be about a quarter of their sales, as even though development costs in Poland are, I suspect, going to be quite a bit lower than other places, I’d be very, very surprised if that began to cover their development costs. The download/retail disparity here is interesting as I’d been led to believe that downloads were equalling, or even slightly exceeding, store sales. Apparently for some markets, at least, that’s far from true.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      I don’t think a million is bad considering it had zero marketing. Games like Dragon Age 2 and Skyrim have actual TV ads, but Witcher 2 didn’t have much marketing beyond some internet ads. Plus, it’s not on consoles so people are less aware of it.

      Plus, didn’t they say at one point that the original Witcher only sold like 1 million for its entire run? I could be wrong on that, but if it’s the case Witcher 2 is already on track to outsell it.

    • sneetch says:

      Ahhh… duh! Should have read it a bit closer then, I thought it was total sales. I bought a physical copy (maps, I love maps, just picked up a physical Skyrim copy today for the map too) so I’m not in that number-o-sales number.

    • Persona says:

      It actually sold around 1 million in less than 2 months. The Witcher 2 was released on May 17 and the 1 million figure was just from sales during the 1st half of 2011. The game already made a very healthy profit for CD Projekt.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The Witcher games have thusfar been highly desirable to own in traditional packaging. Both games have very nice manuals/maps/extras in the standard retail PC editions.

    • Derpentine says:

      For fun, consider how much advertising and talk that RAGE had – it’s only _just_ scraped 2mil with sales on all platforms combined.

    • MattM says:

      It also hasn’t been discounted as much as some games. This means it is making more per sale than some other games and can hope to see a sales spike when it does eventually lower the price to ~$20.

    • paterah says:

      And remember guys, it’s out only for PC right now. 1 million isn’t bad for a PC exclusive, it will come out on xbox and I guess they will also get sales there.

    • subedii says:

      In addition to what derpentine said ( a lot of really major games, even massively hyped ones, never really go beyond the 1-2 mil mark. It’s just the few mega-hits that do that tend to skew people’s perceptions), you also need to understand that the profit margin per unit is massively improved when selling via DD.

      IIRC selling at retail nets you in the region of 30%-40% of the overall price. Where with DD it’s usually closer to 60%-70%.

      And if you’re selling through your own store, that goes up further still. I remember reading years ago in an interview with Valve where Gabe Newell mentioned that their profit margin per unit sold (of their own games) on Steam is something like 90% +. Assuming the same for, and CD-Project make enough money per GOG unit sold to match 3 store sales.

      All the figures I’m giving here are largely just guesswork on my part after reading interviews on this stuff over the years (individual contracts, things changing over the years etc. can all skew that), but even then, you’re still talking a really hefty increase in profit per unit.

    • bear912 says:

      Your speculation makes me proud to have been one of the folks who picked it up on GOG!

    • bglamb says:

      If Valve only get 90% of the money spent on their games in their store, who on earth gets the other 10%?

      The only cut I can think of is the payment provider, but they can’t take 10% surely?

    • Sir-Lucius says:


      The other 10% more than likely goes to overhead and costs associated with running steam. Remember it’s 90% profit, not 90% revenue, so that figure is what’s left over after all fees, maintenance, and general costs associated with running Steam are paid off.

    • D3xter says:

      Also taxes and all that other stuff of probably having to pay random people/third parties for services etc.

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  2. Siimon says:

    I have to admit that I pirated this and played through it… then bought it on Steam for a 2nd playthrough :)

    Very nice to see some stats released, although I really didn’t expect Steam to dominate this much. I expected Steam to make up 30-50%…

    • BurningPet says:

      Shh, dont tell anyone this kind of behavior exists! pirates are nothing but lost sales!

    • RegisteredUser says:

      This is doubly ironic given that in their point of view you are a despicable pirate and should be lawyered and sued to death from the first act of piracy on. They openly advocate hunting YOU down and making sure you are punished as much as possible..and you go and buy their game.

      I still say they deserve 0 sales until they openly recant their stance on how potential customers or market non-participants(pirates who pirate out of principle are unconvertible and can’t be factored one way or another) should be treated.

      I still hate CDP for all of this, still don’t want their games and still find it sad and pathetic to lawyer people into the ground when we need to wait years on end for a trial people NEED solved in the justice system as is. Pathetic, abusive(profit generation machine via subpoenas) and retarded.

  3. Juan Carlo says:

    Is a quarter of a million good?

    I don’t even know what’s good anymore in the age of the internet.

    It’s like, in terms of music, 15 years ago selling 100,000 albums was barely enough to chart on billboard and going gold (i.e. selling 500,000 copies) was a common occurrence for even second tier bands. But nowdays you can debut in the top ten by selling like 20,000 and artists rarely go gold, much less platinum.

    • The Ninja Foodstuff formerly known as ASBO says:

      Like youtube video hits! Who are all these people?

    • UnravThreads says:

      A quarter of a million is the amount of digital sales.
      The amount of retail sales was somewhere around 750k.

      That is not bad for a PC game, in fact, that’s pretty bloody good.

    • Shuck says:

      That sort of sales income might keep an office of 20 people working for a few years (if they’re not paid a lot), but it would hard to develop most AAA games on that sort of budget, especially with AAA marketing costs often being equivalent to, or even larger than, dev costs. Unlike music (where marketing costs are the main expenditure), development costs vary enormously with games (on top of which are hugely varying marketing budgets). So a quarter million sales would be great for a small indie game, but terrible for a AAA.

  4. SilverSilence says:

    Funny that the service it sold most on is the one that the game is now broken on.

  5. Vinraith says:

    5:1 ratio of DRM’d to hell versus DRM free, for the same game, at the same price. That’s just incredibly sad.

    • The Ninja Foodstuff formerly known as ASBO says:

      True. Although I confess I bought it on Steam when it was half price; it was ages before Gog dropped the price, at which point I wished I’d got it from them instead.

    • cw8 says:

      Exceedingly mind-boggling too

    • jezcentral says:

      Not if you also see some benefit in having games on Steam.

    • kyrieee says:

      It was cheaper on GoG for a lot of people since they actually did that thing where you could change your country to pay in whatever currency you wanted.

    • Vinraith says:

      @The Ninja

      Ah, that probably explains a bit of it then. Not “at the same price” after all. I wonder how those numbers break down.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It was way more expensive on Whatever the DRM was on the retail copy it didn’t effect me. DRM’d to hell means nothing. You have no idea what you are talking about. You are being ridiculous.

      Then it was patched out. Why did you pay way more for nothing? That’s just incredibly sad.

    • Vinraith says:


      Your math is faulty, I’m referring to the Steam:GOG ratio. My statement had nothing to do with the retail copies. However, if you want to talk about retail DRM, all that needs to be said is “it so severely impacted performance they had to patch it out immediately,” which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. Still, I wish they’d just made the retail DRM-free, I’d happily have bought a box.

    • cheesetruncheon says:

      I want to see the Steam user to GoG user ratio before I make any calls on ‘DRM vs non-DRM’ in my group of friends, 2 of us use GoG, the rest only use steam.

      Also the DRM on the retail box was publisher imposed, so I question whether or not it ‘breaking’ was intentional…

    • Premium User Badge

      Maltose says:

      I’m 99% sure all the non-Steam versions of the game were made DRM free after patch 1.1 or so.

  6. cw8 says:

    So there were 800,000 boxed copies sold?
    Pretty darn good news for a retail fan like myself otherwise I’m supporting GoG. Anyway I bought a copy on GoG first and then bought a retail copy for collection.
    It’s been announced TW2 has sold 940,000 copies in Aug:
    link to

  7. OJSlaughter says:

    Quite a large amount of domination for Steam: still I am confident that the service cannot abuse its position, as there as so many great competitors who can be just as good!

    • MattM says:

      While it might be hard to build a service with as many features as steam, in general there is a low cost of entry into the digital games retail market, an indie developer can license a sales system pretty quickly and cheaply. This means that there is a limit to how much a dominate player can leverage its monopoly before driving customers and game publishers away.
      To give an example for contrast, think about CPU design. If a new company wanted to enter the market they would have to be prepared for a decade or more of losses before they could hope to become profitable and even longer until they would have a net return on investment.

  8. Jimbo says:

    Retail Totally Dominates Witcher 2 Sales

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Yeah, that’s the real headline. Surprising.

      Is that representative of the PC digital:retail sales ratio for most big games? I thought it was much different by now. And I would’ve expected TW2 to be tilted even more in favor of digital, what with its being available DRM-free directly from the developer.

    • Jimbo says:

      I could see it for the biggest and most anticipated PC games – say Football Manager, Total War… errr…. etc. Games which people know they want well in advance of release. Digital is king of impulse purchase rubbish that you didn’t particularly want in the first place.

    • Persona says:

      The PC retail market in Europe is still huge and that’s where the main audience of The Witcher 2 is located. Not surprising at all.

    • Premium User Badge

      bsplines says:

      It ‘s not that surprising, considering the extras that came with the physical copy (huge manuals and a map). It had more content than special editions of other games. The fact that the digital version had the same price at launch was ridiculous, you actually got less for the same price.
      I do not think it is representative of the retail/digital ratio in general though, as I have not seen such packaging in any other game.

  9. says:

    Still haven’t played TW2 to find out what the heck that hulking fellow is…

    I wonder what the U.S. boxed sales were in comparison to Europe.

  10. kyrieee says:

    You are a disgrace to the PC gaming master race if you don’t own this game

    • cw8 says:

      I own 2 copies. Does that make me Der Fuhrer?

    • Paul says:

      Which is why I own both CE and GOG versions of the game. This is GOT of the last 5 Y as far as I am concerned, so CDP deserve it.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      It’s true, I am a disgrace. I’ve been waiting to finish the Witcher 1 first, which is still residing in my pile.

    • Lowbrow says:

      I’ll buy it when I finish the first one. Just got a wired xbox controller, so maybe the combat won’t suck. I hate the clicky, waving a sword around like Star Wars Kid stuff. Maybe it won’t annoy me the same way with a gamepad? I really want someone to patch together a regular RPG with Bushido Blade from the old Playstation 1.
      Weapons should have WEIGHT! If someone has a two-handed hammer it shouldn’t be cartoonishly big, and small characters should tire out using large weapons.

  11. Vandelay says:

    So, how many boxed copies were sold? The Witcher 2 is surely a big seller and a quarter of a million doesn’t sound like it would have been a massive proportion of the overall sales. Even though Steam seems to be more in control of the digital market than we probably thought, is digital not as dominant as we all think?

    • cw8 says:

      80% of the sales were retail I guess. TW2 probably hit the millionth sales mark in September.

    • UnravThreads says:

      At least 750k retail sales.

    • Shuck says:

      “is digital not as dominant as we all think?”
      Apparently in some markets, at least. I’m wondering where Witcher 2 sold most of its copies – if there’s a Europe/US divide in terms of PC retail/download sales or a Eastern/Western Europe divide. (I find it quite difficult to find retailers with any selection of PC games where I am in California, anyways.)

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      Especially not in Polish market, the home of Witcher! Only 3% of gamers declare they buy games digitally. Mostly they compare it to piracy and point out the lack of “feel”

  12. oceanclub says:

    I presume the great thing about digital sales is that the developers gets a far larger cut. Let’s assume they get all money from the 40K GOG sales, and 70% from 200K Steam sales (Valve take 30%, correct?). Making it easy and assuming €40 for each copy (I know, big assumption), that works out roughly 1,600,000 + 5,600,000 = over €7m.

    Am surprised that the proportion of digital sales were that low, but then the boxed edition was quite nice (I got it that way). I’m guessing that the fact that it hasn’t been in a sale yet indicates they’re happy with the way it’s selling on Steam.


  13. dontnormally says:

    CDP owns GOG?

  14. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It pleases me that lots of people bought the game on retail, as I did. Why waste £7-10 buying it on Steam at full RRP?

    • bleeters says:

      Well, I bought it from GOG in the interests of handing my money over to people who provide a DRM free service.

      It was worth the extra few pounds to do so, as far as I’m concerned.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I did the same, bought it from GOG.

      I also preordered the physical collector’s edition (because it had so much lovely tat without being exorbitantly priced), but cancelled it (and email CDP to let them know why) when they announced the DRM they had on the retail editions.

      After they released the patch completely removing the DRM from the retail edition, I bought the collector’s edition in the end. It’s very nice.

  15. MythArcana says:

    Still no membership for me and I’m having a great time without it!

  16. ZIGS says:

    Thumps up if you bought TW2 from GOG! Oh wait, this isn’t youtube…

  17. Radiant says:

    Anyone who has a pc and whose pc is not in the living room should buy this beautiful game.

    • Siimon says:

      What does that mean? I have my PC in the living room so that this beauty can go on my bigger TV as opposed to my small(ish) monitor… Much better solution imo :)

    • Aedrill says:

      I think he’s talking about hiding the titties from your mom/girlfriend/wife

    • adonf says:

      My mom, my girlfriend, and my wife all have titties, I don’t think they’re offended when they see other women’s. Especially digital women.

    • Tams80 says:

      “my girlfriend, and my wife” O.o

    • Radiant says:

      Mum, Girlfriend and Wife don’t all happen to be the same rubber glove?

  18. Veracity says:

    1) Why hasn’t CDP signed the same NDA everyone else seems to’ve done that prevents them telling us this?
    2) 75%+ of sales were on shiny plastic? Where the devil are all the people doing this?

    • Moleman says:

      WRT #2: Myself, although that’s because Amazon US had the “preorder and get $10 off, and an additional $10 Amazon credit.” And the boxed copy appears to have been some sort of special edition- at least, it came with a map, soundtrack CD, some sort of pretend coin, and a (mostly not very useful) guide, for the same price as the normal version (hilariously, neither sale thing applied to the normal version, so the “special edition” ended up being $20 less than the normal version). You can get some pretty amazing deals if you shop around for boxed items these days- most digital services are only best for sales.

    • dr.castle says:

      Yep. If you don’t mind waiting for the inevitable sales, digital is the way to go. But if you want to preorder or buy shortly after release, the best deals are often at large retailers like Amazon or Fry’s. In the USA at least.

    • adonf says:

      “Why hasn’t CDP signed the same NDA everyone else seems to’ve done that prevents them telling us this?”

      They probably have but didn’t care. Like they said screw you to their European publisher and sold the game on GoG at the US price, and then removed the DRM for all versions in a patch. And then TPd Bruno Bonnell’s house.

    • Delusibeta says:

      As for number two, I’d wager it’s because PC games retail is still pretty big in mainland Europe, especially towards the east. Plus it’s a really nice boxed edition, with more stuff in it than most Collector’s Editions.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Take Skyrim. It is not available on Steam in my country (Poland), and it is available in retail. If it was on Steam, it would cost 50 EUR. In retail it costs 27-32 EUR, depending on the store (and you register it on Steam anyway). Now, I’d have to be either an idiot or a very rich person to buy it on Steam.

  19. oceanclub says:

    “2) 75%+ of sales were on shiny plastic? Where the devil are all the people doing this?”

    Well, I have 200+ games on Steam, but the vast majority of my first-day mainsteam title purchases are still online retail since that’s cheapest. As a comparison: I’ve ordered Skyrim for about €31, while the Steam price is €49.99.

    With TW2, not only was price a factor, but the boxed version looked pretty nice with lots of extras. A no brainer IMO.


    • Carra says:

      Unless steams prices fall by about €15 for new releases they’re not competitive at all with retailers.

  20. Carra says:

    I was happy to buy it on Buying it on steam looked so stupid I figured noone would do it. Looks like I’m wrong…

    -> Steam: €50
    -> $50(finally no regional pricing!) + two free games.

    How is that even a choice?

  21. Carra says:

    Steam: €50 $50 (finally, no regional differences!!!!) + 2 free games.

    How is that even a choice? It boggles the mind why people would buy from steam instead of if offers sucha nice deal.

  22. Frank says:

    “their game is huge success”

    I heard this in the voice of TF2’s heavy

  23. overflow says:

    why does everybody think they are first day sales?
    I’m almost sure they made most of those sales when it was 50% off on steam. that’s when i bought it .that’s what i mostly do with singleplayer games you can enjoy on your own terms. i almost never by them first day and wait for a good deal.

  24. Tams80 says:

    Good to see retail doing so well.

    While I do like the convenience of DD and in the case of the GOG DRM free; I much prefer retail as it can be cheaper and more importantly, you get a box. A box dammit!

  25. Demiath says:

    Good for CD Projekt RED, I guess. Witcher 2’s 100% action game combat, lore/backstory-heavy plot, “gritty” characters and hermetically sealed level design pretty much represents the antithesis of where I’d like Western RPGs to go in the future. But it’s still a great-looking PC game of 2011, so the Poles deserve every bit of success they can get.

  26. Hatsworth says:

    That is quite sad. DRM free at a much lower price(for europeans at least), and yet…