Steam sales are renowned for cleaning out the wallets of many, but the last two have felt slightly lower key than previously because they featured neither daily deals, nor flash sales, nor complicated metagames. Perception can be misleading, though: a report by Valve – perhaps released accidentally – states that the recent Steam Winter Sale was the most successful ever.
The post was first made to the developer-only Steamworks group, then for some reason mirrored on the public SteamVR page. It was quickly taken down, but not before someone copied it and pasted it onto the SteamDB forum. As its introduction explains:
“As you already know, the format of discounts in this year’s Winter sale was a little different from past years. This year’s sale was centered around discounts that ran for the full length of the sale, rather than changing from day to day for featured titles. Our hypothesis was that this new format would be a better way to serve customers that may only be able to visit Steam once or twice during the 13-day event. We also saw this change as an opportunity to showcase a deeper variety of titles to customers each day, while having confidence that any game being highlighted would be at its lowest discount.”
The rest then goes on to back it up with graphs and numbers: a 197% increase in the rate of wishlist additions; 35% of traffic delivered to games outside of the top 500 best sellers; 45% growth in revenue generated by the same group when compared to the last winter sale, and more. In short: it was good for business.
Why do you care? I don’t know, but I care because I want to know that smaller games can still find an audience amid the quantity and noise of present day Steam. It’s in everybody’s interest that Steam not be solely hit-driven, that Valve are interested in spreading attention around, and that more unusual or niche experiences aren’t disappearing without trace.