Steam Charts: come on call chatback

We’re approaching the halfway point of the year, and the weekly Steam charts continue to paint a clear picture of which games are chewing up everyone’s attention. These, as always, are the ten games with the most accumulated sales over the previous week.

Big May releases Dawn of War III and Outlast 2 have bowed out after only a couple of weeks, which is probably causing all kinds of panic somewhere- but what’s taken their place?

10. Stellaris: Utopia

Paradox’s spacey 4X is rarely too far from the top ten, but a 15 spacebucks spaceprice-cut last spaceweek has spacepropelled it and its expansion spacepack back in.

9. Stellaris

I can vividly recall the day that single was released, when weeks of anticipation after hearing it on some jeans advert had reached fever-pitch amongst the youths of the UK. You couldn’t move for floppy-haired, agitated schoolboys clutching £1.99 in the endless queue in Our Price that lunchtime. I couldn’t afford it, so instead paid a Walkman-owning kid 10p per listen to his over the following week. Probably spent about £6 in the end.

Truly, a different world. Who watches on adverts on TV these days, after all?

8. Dead Cells

The only new entry this week combines a few dead-cert Steam hit qualities: Souls-inspired, roguelike, side-on pixelly art. However, oor Brendy reckons it’s anything but cynical Twitch-farming, describing it as “rather good”, “gorgeous” and “a nifty little thing”, even if he thinks the Souls element isn’t as strong as it could be.

Worth noting that Dead Cells is an early access game too, which puts the lie to the increasingly-made claim that that side of Steam is no longer much of a profit-making one.

7. H1Z1: King of the Kill

Speaking of the UK’s propensity for mass hysteria around songs they’d heard on telly in the 1990s, there’s also Mr Oizo’s Flat Beat (from another jeans advert), which also prompted a rush of purchases of shit cuddly toys…

6. Grand Theft Auto V

…but at least that sound had some measure of credibility to it. The same cannot be said of Britain’s most extreme music-off-of-the-TV folly in the 90s, the notorious Mr Blobby:

An enormous chart hit in 1993, that one, which no doubt will have residents of other nations wondering what the hell is wrong with Britain. That’s something we’re asking ourselves often these days, I assure you.

5. Dark Souls III

Nooooo! The half-price sale that propelled this to fifth position ended yesterday. If Dark Souls is a game about death and purgatory, then it seems my own spell in limbo entails repeatedly telling people about discounts on games only after those discounts have ended. Truly, I have suffered more than anyone in Lothric. You do read Friday’s bargain roundup though, right?

4. DOOM

Bethesda’s Prey hasn’t managed to make number one since its release – and I don’t know how problematic that is, given that a great deal was clearly spent on promoting it – but perhaps Doom 2016 making its umpteenth return to the charts (this time thanks to a ridiculous $20 sale, but sorry, it’s all over again) will calm a few fretting businessbots. Doom’s surely done the numbers – I wonder if we might see a Wolfenstein: The Old Blood style expandalone this year.

3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Such was the UK’s weakness for TV-based audio tripe in the 1990s that it is frankly a miracle that this advert for a chatline used only by legions of teenage boys hoping to be offered sexual favours by strangers was not spun-off into a full-length track. It would almost certainly have been at number one for 48 weeks:

2. Prey

Still chewing up my evenings a couple of weeks on. I’m taking my time with Prey, leaving no door unlocked and no item unrecycled. As I understand it, there’s still a significant chunk of the game left to go, which may be mildly problematic as it increasingly seems I’ve hit that Elder Scrollsy thing where I’m massively overpowered too early on. (I can take down Nightmares with four shotgun blasts and in about as many seconds, for instance). Curse my packrat tendencies! Still having a great time too, in the way I have with little else this year so far.

1. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

I notice that the wider conversation about Battlegrounds has lately morphed from “oh God no not another one” to “heyyyyyyy”. Whatever secret sauce was immediately obvious to battle royale game loyalists has, perhaps, also now become apparent to those who suffer from manshoot ennui. Heck, even I’m increasingly tempted to play it. DOING SOMETHING RIGHT.

29 Comments

  1. JB says:

    And on the subject of Flat Beat, I’ve always quite liked Flat Cold Medina, a mash-up of that and Tone Loc’s Funky Cold Medina.

    And Mr. Blobby, eh? Good times.

  2. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    I’m glad Stellaris made it back in as it means I own one of the top 10 and am down with the ‘fellow kids’.

    Not including GTAV of course. I buy at least one of those a week. Like everybody.

  3. gou says:

    ahh that spaceman single was such a letdown, the ad used a sped-up lyric and me and all my raver mates were hyped for it… and it turned out to be that steaming turd instead

    • Premium User Badge

      Arnvidr says:

      The sped-up parts from the ad was a part of the song though? There was just more to it than the parts in the ad. I still have that single, incredibly.

      • KingFunk says:

        Me too. And you are right. As I recall it starts with the speddy-up bit then goes grungier.

        Also, I think Alec missed a trick here by not including Stiltskin’s ‘Inside’:

        • Jonnyuk77 says:

          I saw Stiltskin live on the back of that single…. yup.

        • Premium User Badge

          Severn2j says:

          An interesting side note to that Stiltskin track, apparently the company selling whatever product it was (Levi Jeans, I think) originally wanted Smashing Pumpkins to do it, but they said no, so they got Stiltskin to do a Pumpkins-y style song for the ad..

          If you listen to their album, you’ll notice all the other songs are of a completely different style to that song.

  4. Solidstate89 says:

    I’m actually starting to worry about the immediate future of Arkane Studios, and I didn’t think I’d have to say that about such a clearly talented developer.

    I hope there aren’t any short-term (or long-term for that matter) repercussions from sales of Prey and DH2. They’re both good – even great – games, and I hope sales that might not be as good as what Bethesda/Zenimax wanted don’t have a negative effect on the studio.

    • Shinard says:

      I hope Bethesda/Zenimax realise that cutting Arkane off would be cutting off their nose to spite their face. I would bet good money that the slightly underwhelming sales of Prey and DH2 are mostly down to B/Z’s bafflingly unhelpful review policy, and that they’re only as good as they are thanks to the sheer quality of the games. I know that’s why I haven’t bought them – I like launch reviews, and not seeing any is a massive red flag. If Bethesda/Zenimax cut off Arkane, I’d be very, very concerned about their future. One duff Elder Scrolls, and who knows.

    • Vandelay says:

      Agreed. Prey is great and up there with Zelda as one of this year’s great games. Yet it doesn’t seem to just be the strange review policy; the reviews themselves have been rather mixed, with it sitting at a rather average (for games) 79% on Metacritic.

      This feels like one of those games that all developers should be playing as an example of how things should be done, but it seems only a niche audience are getting that.

  5. Herzog says:

    Battlegrounds diary would be nice Alec. Go for it!

  6. Fnord73 says:

    The greatest novelty spin-off song from TV was and is The Timelords (later, KLF) “Doctoring the Tardis”. With a car on lead vocal.

  7. Optimaximal says:

    Surprised and/or glad you didn’t include Crazy Frog and Jamba Hippo in your ill-advised trip through the annals of shit music videos…

    • Premium User Badge

      barashkukor says:

      I doubt any of us have done anything bad enough to deserve that. Once I get out of the kitten mines (only the most fluffy of kittens will do for the Dark Overlord in Your Miserable Existence) and go for some post-work monkey punching maybe my soul will be sufficiently blackened, but only maybe.

  8. KingFunk says:

    I’m pretty sure I still have the Babylon Zoo single in my parents’ loft. Also, Mr Oizo is still worth checking out – I bought Analog Worms Attack at the time (it has Flat Beat shoehorned in to boost sales, I believe). The Lambs Anger album is one of my all time faves. Mental as hell, dirty and hard, it always make me want to dance around like a loon…

    Also, me and my mates were once at a house party and for a laugh dialled Chatback and left it off the hook. Never did find out if the guy got in trouble for the phone bill.

    What I’m trying to say is that all of these cultural touchstones have played a role in my life, so well done Alec. Your breakdown is making someone happy :-)

  9. bramble says:

    How are you killing nightmares in 3 shotgun blasts? Mine is fully upgraded and I play at normal difficulty, and most special phantoms take 5 or 6 shots. Forget telepaths and technopaths. Is there some killer perk I’m missing that will stop me from taking a 3 minute coffee break in the nearest security station everytime a nightmare shows up?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Sneak attack max bonus, right in the small of its giant back.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      The Security neuromod that gives bonus damage for ordinary weapons, plus the time slow damage bonus. But mostly sneak attack as Alec said.

      • stele says:

        How are you guys sneaking up on the thing in the first place? It always seems to come right at me. Is it possible to run away from it (once it’s seen you) and hide under a desk or something? Or do you need to find a vent? The only time I’ve killed one was right after I moved into the Lobby and I was caught in that long hallway. I set up an ambush for it with a bunch of Recyclers, but it took me 15 tries to get the timing right.

      • Kamestos says:

        Psychoshock works well against pretty much everything, but especially against nightmares. Stops typhons using powers and stuns them. Once they are stunned they take bonus damage.

  10. Neurotic says:

    +500 xp for the Father Ted. :)

    • Vandelay says:

      I don’t remember the actual Chatback ad (guess it was on late night TV when I was still pre-teen/single digits,) but I immediately thought of that Father Ted ad. So glad it was included.

  11. The Bitcher III says:

    Yeah, well…. Oizo is “super-cool”, as the french say.

    Anyone going to argue against Jonathon Glazer’s Horses V Surfers, pitting Leftfield against Melville?

    • MiniMatt says:

      90s ads with top tunes is a dangerous rabbit hole

      I’ll throw in Velvet Underground on the Dunlop ad

  12. Muzman says:

    I think Dan Condon said it best

    Upon its release, ‘Spaceman’ by Babylon Zoo was the fastest selling single in 30 years. With 420,000 copies shifted in its first week, it sold more copies at greater speed than anything by the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, George Michael and just about anything bar The Beatles’ ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’.

    Yep, ‘Spaceman’. By Babylon Zoo.

    When’s the last time you heard ‘Spaceman’ (by Babylon Zoo)? If it’s been a while, let me let you in on a little secret.

    It stinks!

    Its lyrics are no better than those poems your weird cousin wrote when he was at University. The guitars sound horridly tinny. That godawful intro is a horrible attempt at trying to be weird for the sake of it. I could only imagine the look on Robert Smith’s face when someone played it to him for the first time and suggested he may have influenced it.

    It’s a bad song. It has no redeeming qualities. If you voted for it 20 years ago (and a lot of you must have, it reached number 16)(in the Australian Hottest 100 of 1996) I’m angry at you. If you still like it today, then I just feel sorry for you.

    I’ve been wanting to say this for 20 years and so I’m taking my chance. ‘Spaceman’ sucks. If I had it my way we’d bloody well skip it on Saturday.

    link to doublej.net.au

  13. Cyrus says:

    I contributed to Doom after waiting for a year.
    Kinda anticipated an expansion to be announced (so I can go for a GotY) or a sale below 20€, but caved in realized it was not meant to go that way. Same with XCOM 2. Though XCOM was vastly cheaper with Humble bundle.