Steam Charts: Actual Hope Edition

As I drag my groggy-faced body to the monitor at 6.30 each Monday morning, I click the bookmark for my Steam Charts RSS and scrunch up my face so my forehead and nose curl over my eyes. How bad will it be? How familiar will the list of five-year-old games be? How will I think of… BUT WHAT IS THIS?!!?! FOUR new entries! Far Cry 5 taking up only one slot! No Witcher 3! No Skyrim! It’s like Christmas, where Christmas is a day you just about get through without things being as bad as they were last year.

10. Total War Saga: Thrones Of Britannia

The first of CA’s shorter entries into their Total War series pokes its nose into the charts a few days before it’s released. Although for once these might be valid pre-purchases if Adam (sniff, waaahhhhhh) is right.

It’s 878 AD, as it so often once was, and you want to be the king of Britain. And so you shall try, in a scaled down re-working of the concept. Which all sounds splendid, I’m quite sure.

(I’m saving my jokes about it being Total War for the elderly for next week, when it’s out, so pop that in your diaries.)

9. Grand Theft Auto V

This might have been given a boost by last week’s idiotic and overpriced GTA V Premium Online Edition. Which means there’s never been more need for:

What’s Another Thing You Could Buy Instead Of GTA V Again?

This Chain Chomp desk lamp

8. theHunter: Call Of The Wild

Blimey, that’s an odd one. I guess I’m out of touch with the masses to not understand why a wildlife hunting sim is popular enough to chart, let alone popular enough a year after release just because it dipped its price 33% for a few days.

I mean, yes, personally I think hunting as sport is grim, but obviously that has no bearing on those who enjoy it. But more in terms of how gaming offers these much more fantastical options for shooting pretend guns, and it seems mundane, bordering on asinine, to replicate the already pointless pursuit of killing wildlife. I mean, at least make the wildlife evil or something, give them red glowing eyes and a backstory that they’re planning to take over the world.

The pricing on this one’s interesting, set at £30, 30€ and $30, which is to say it costs almost a third more in Europe than it does in the US. I suspect that’s due to its being far less likely to sell widely this rather less gun-happy side of the Atlantic, so they may as well get a more premium sum from those who are willing to get it.

7. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

You only have yourselves to blame.

5. Far Cry 5

I’m impressed with FC5’s staying power. Normally big AAA releases like this take over the charts for a couple of weeks, occupying multiple spaces, and then just plummet out when the next big shiny bauble is released.

That this is still selling so solidly many weeks on, and this week for the first time occupying just one slot in the charts, can only mean it’s raking it in for Ubi. So what will they learn about not putting the worst stories of all time into their games?


4. NieR:Automata

Being half price is what’s done the trick for this year-old batshit crazy dystopia-em-up. It’s still half price for another week, if you fancy it, down to £20, before which I can only assume there will be a sensible permanent top-end price drop to somewhere in the middle.

For those who’ve not yet, the grammarless NieR:Automata is a game about 2B and A2, a pencil and a very large piece of paper, and their – I dunno – drawing robots? I tried to play it, and bounced off it harder than a bouncy ball being thrown at a trampoline on the moon.

6 & 3. BattleTech

Will you enjoy giant-stompy-robots-me-do BattleTech? You’ll have to choose between either listening to Alec, or to Alec.

In fact, reading both is by far the most helpful course of action, as Alec rather deftly captures the vastly more important experience of the disappointing first time through a sluggish and frustrating game, and the experience of returning to it from the start, having learned everything from the annoying first time. Having to go through the former to get the latter is, in my correct opinion, never good enough – COUGHTHEWITCHERCOUGH. But as you can see from a non-AAA game taking up two spots in the charts this week, it’s not done its sales any harm.

2. Frostpunk

Congratulations to indies 11 Bit Studios for the enormous accomplishment of scoring the de facto top spot in the Steam Charts. They sold quarter of a million copies in less than three days, which is no bad going.

This is SimCity from a bleak and morbid snow-filled future, and you can read Xalavier’s slightly tepid response here.

1. Plunkbat

I know we’ve had The Books before, but this is Zammuto, so it’s definitely different:

The Steam Charts are compiled via Steam’s internal charts of the highest grossing games on Steam over the previous week.


Top comments

  1. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    It's also worth noting that Frostpunk couldn't be preordered on Steam (though it was possible on Humble and possibly a few other stores) so all those sales that got it into 2nd place on the Steam charts happened once the game was out and reviews happened and all that. It's like you don't have to try to coerce your customers into preordering to achieve good sales figures or something.
  1. I Got Pineapples says:

    theHunter is quietly lone of those Euro Truck Simulator type things where it has a bizarrely huge following in the eastern parts of europe.

    It’s honestly a bit of a Dad game. All very serious stuff about hitting animals in the right spot and wind direction and so on.

    • Curg says:

      Could combine the two and get Euro Road Kill Simulator I suppose, get both markets then!

      • wackazoa says:

        Here in the states there used to be a game series called Deer Hunter.(my Grandfather and an Uncle played them, don’t know if they still make the games) Well somebody, not the Deer Hunter guys, decided to make a parody game called “Deer Hunter Avenger”. I saw it and showed it to my Grandfather. He was not impressed.

        Id play a demo of Euro Road Kill Simulator. Might be good for a few minutes of fun, but youd have to make the animals be the drivers. And give them different stats. So like make Raccoons and Beavers better drivers than Deer and Antelope. That kind of thing. :p

        • April March says:

          I don’t know if I’d play that game, but I’d read that novel. Humans hunting animals, except all of them are delivering cargo on big lorries? That sounds like something that would happen if China Miéville, Jeff VanderMeer and Philip Reeve collaborated on the first draft of a novel that was then sent back in time to Terry Pratchett. Actually, do we have any proof that’s not how Pratchett’s Drivers came about?

    • ikehaiku says:

      It is exactly this for me.
      I alternate between ETS2 and tHCotW (let’s make this a thing) as my go-to “just relax” games.
      Not to mention the the whole environment is just so gorgeous (both for the eyes and the ears) in theHunter.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Neat, good to see something like Frostpunk hitting second place. I doubt it’ll stay there, but it’s good to see indie stuff making a splash.

    • mlcarter815 says:

      Is there much of a distinction when an indie game like Frostpunk gets as much coverage as it did? It’s not like it snuck in.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Getting coverage and sales is part of ‘making a splash’. I’m glad to see the indie title is getting attention and money, that’s all.

        • mlcarter815 says:

          Once you have a hit like This War of Mine, is the studio still “indie”? That hit gave this game a huge leg up.

          • SaunteringLion says:

            Yes, it’s still indie, because it’s a tiny developer self-publishing.

            It might’ve been debatable if it was an indie studio published by a big gun like EA, Activision or Ubisoft, but a very small team made it and the same very small team published it.

            I don’t know what your criteria for indie is, but 11 bit is it.

    • DanMan says:

      Sad to not see it on Linux, since all their other games had released there. :(

  3. heystreethawk says:

    Zammuto’s solo work has been overlooked :[

  4. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    It’s also worth noting that Frostpunk couldn’t be preordered on Steam (though it was possible on Humble and possibly a few other stores) so all those sales that got it into 2nd place on the Steam charts happened once the game was out and reviews happened and all that. It’s like you don’t have to try to coerce your customers into preordering to achieve good sales figures or something.

    • kud13 says:

      It was definitely available for pre-order (with a launch discount) on GOG.
      And “This War of Mine” was also on sale in GOG’s “most wishlisted games” sale at the same time. Which was why I bought both for just under $40 CAD.

  5. shauneyboy68 says:

    What is this “dad game” everyone is talking about now? What does it MEAN?

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s this:

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      Granular, ‘realistic’ detail heavy games suited to middle aged men who are enthusiasts of a particular subject matter to tinker around with.

    • SaunteringLion says:

      You know how, 40 years ago your stereotypical dad might like spending many hours going over the particulars of fly-fishing and specific lures, or they might have spent many weekends meticulously modelling Spitfire Mk I’s, or tinkering with outdated transistor radios?

      The dad game is the exact equivalent to that, except purchasable on Steam. The games will typically be a lot slower than even the slowest paced turn-based strategy your average gamer might be used to. It might come with a huge manual, it’ll have near-to-real levels of detail and border much more on the sim-side of games. It could be about trucks, or shipping routes, or sport-sim type games like hunting or fishing, or the slower wargaming kind of games since the History channel no longer airs history documentaries.

      Hope that helps.

  6. Nelyeth says:

    I can understand your point about theHunter, but I don’t see how it is any different than, say, Euro Truck Simulator, and I remember Adam (waaah, sniff) writing very fondly about this one. Why would anyone replicate the mundane, boring act of driving a truck when you could slam people off cliffs in Burnout or drive over pedestrians while shooting at cops in GTA?

    I think that’s exactly where the appeal lies, not in the action itself (I don’t think a significant portion of theHunter’s players are hunters themselves, or that Euro Truck Simulator enthusiasts are truckers). In a way, the tedium is what makes these games stand out. Most games are input-hungry, all about non-stop action, afraid of making you waste your time.

    I remember you saying Far Cry 5’s omnipresent, attention-starving story infuriated you. I remember Alec writing about what a shame it was that the game throws so many goons the game at you to prevent you from doing goofy things and enjoying the views. I think that’s exactly why theHunter is in the charts right now, and not because people like to bath in the perfectly-rendered blood of innocent critters.

    Then again, maybe I’m wrong, since I’ve never played it. Maybe it is all about filling the hole in one’s soul with death, trophies and pelts. In any case, nice to see a few new (or at least somewhat fresh) names in the charts, and as usual, great writing John!

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      I picked it up a while ago because I enjoyed killing animals in the Far Cry engine and wanted more of that and it’s pretty much as you described. While it isn’t exactly my cup of tea it is a strangely meditative experience with a bizarrely friendly player base.

    • Cederic says:

      The word tedium is misplaced. ETS2 was meditative, relaxing, it gave you an objective that mattered little and gave you a space to relax and escape the real world.

      theHunter:COTW does exactly the same. You can spend hours without even drawing a weapon, just wandering the landscapes, maybe pulling out your camera for a particularly pretty sun-on-mist forest shot.

      I’m firmly in the ‘only go hunting for food’ camp and never have, but this is my ‘go to’ game for “it’s 2am, I can’t sleep and I just need something to help me relax anyway.”

    • mmandthetat says:

      It’s very possibly the best recreation of real world nature in all of gaming, too, so there’s that. I don’t quite have the patience for the game itself but the technical achievement of it alone is quite praiseworthy.

  7. R. Totale says:

    Ohhh, I JUST got that Counter-Strike joke.

  8. napoleonic says:

    Great edition of Steam Charts, thanks John :)

  9. ColonelFlanders says:

    Hunting as a sport might not be quite as pointless as you think. There are thousands of super rich buttholes that would pay thousands of super rich pounds to go out and shoot a big animal, and a lot of that money goes back into conservation efforts. Also my understanding is that most of the animals that are hunted are either old or sick, therefore would be picked off by some peckish predator soon enough. Not that I agree with shooting anything for pleasure; I also think that it’s pretty grim to enjoy killing in general, but at least the process isn’t a completely horrible thing.

    Poaching on the other hand IS a horribly pointless way of killing animals. Those guys can get stuffed.

    • John Walker says:

      While there’s a moral argument to be had about big game hunting, I – and this game – was talking about the rather less spectacular hunting of just stuff that wanders around in woods.

      • mlcarter815 says:

        We have an overabundance of deer in my area and recreational hunting helps manage the population while also funding wildlife conservation efforts.

        • April March says:

          This is the kind of hunting that I have the same feelings about that I have about Early Access games. I find it stupid and would never do it myself, but if there are people who like it, and their money goes to things I like (environmental efforts/finished and polished videogames), who am I to argue?

        • John Walker says:

          (I strongly suspect deer populations are capable of taking care of themselves.)

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            That may be, but they are a friggin menace to the local ecology. The money from hunting deer doesn’t go toward saving dear. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about in this scenario. You need to go look this info up if you’re going to have a conversation about it that involves more than your feelings on the matter (which are of course yours to feel how you please).

          • Nest says:

            Yeah they expand in population until there’s more deer than the environment can sustain, then they starve to death in the winter. And if they’re close enough they migrate into towns and cities and start eating out of garbage cans and getting hit by cars.

          • Rugarroo says:

            The only way deer populations control themselves is by eating all available food to the point of starvation or by dying to diseases like blue tongue. Since large predators aren’t present in parts of the US anymore, there isn’t a lot to control them in some places. Someone may as well shoot and eat a deer instead of it dying of thirst because it got blue tongue or starvation because they browsed down everything in reach.

      • gi_ty says:

        Growing up in a small rural community in the southwest US, hunting was probably the main activity if you weren’t in to board or video games. I personally never enjoyed it, however people that do it right (buying the proper tags and observing weapon restrictions) contribute to the wilderness managment funds far in excess of what the governement provides.
        Deer elk and other large herbivores also provide a large amount of meat that would be very expensive if it were to be replaced with beef. I think the average household income of most places like this is in the $30,000 a year range. So these are not purely for trophies in many cases.
        I am not a fan of the tediousness of hunting, nor the actual killing of animals but it does provide resources for managment support and patrol of wilderness areas. Its not all reprehensible and I’m sure in Africa and other poor regions these issues are amplified by an order of magnitude.

        • mitrovarr says:

          While I don’t think that hunting is necessarily bad or anything, I do think the hunting for food argument is usually (but not always) just someone trying to justify something they wanted to do anyways. A lot of time, these guys will have a big, expensive, gas-eating truck, a bunch of really fancy guns, maybe an ATV, etc. The stuff they buy to hunt “for food” will be way more expensive than alternate solutions to the food issue would have been.

          There are, of course, still a few people who hunt on the cheap, for food to take home (I think there are less now that gas, ammo, and licenses costs more and you usually have to travel further to hunt). But mostly, it’s about on the same level as buying a nice fancy desktop or laptop “so I can do work (or school stuff) at home”.

      • Danarchist says:

        I grew up hunting for food, I would not say I ever really enjoyed it. We simply didn’t have the money for fancy equipment or even really waterproof tents. However a couple Bull Elk’s could feed our family of 6 for a decent chunk of the year.
        I will never understand how people think eating store bought meat is somehow more ethical than hunting it yourself in the wild.

        • Hoot says:

          I don’t think anyone does to be honest, mate.

          Hunting to survive or hunting in an area where population control is required for the greater good of a local ecosystem are things I don’t see how anyone can have a problem with.

          Hunting purely for sport however, specially things like fox hunts like we have in the UK, is bad craic.

          • Someoldguy says:

            Absolutely. There’s a huge gap between hunting overabundant animals to feed your family, manage the environment or to control vermin (which would include foxes in many areas) and wilful slaughter of endangered animals for pleasure. We hear a lot about how many species are going extinct in Africa, including most of the iconic big game which will be gone in a generation. Plus everyone’s seen Hollywood films that portray hunters in a poor light, like Dances With Wolves.

        • Dewal says:

          In place where the population is very dense, if everyone went to hunt their food you wouldn’t find any animal alive after two days. So it’s more ecological to just eat the food that was grown for that purpose and not destroy already frail ecosystems. But it’s not the hunt in itself that’s unethical, it’s just not sustainable considering the quantity of meat we need.

    • wackazoa says:

      I’ll be honest. Im not particularly against hunting. I live in the Southeast U.S. and lot of my family members hunt. (I personally cant kill things. If I lived in a time/place that required me to get my own food, Id either be a vegetarian or a trader.) And Ive eaten deer meat and boar meat, the pig taste better, so I would be a hypocrite to completely rail against hunting.

      I take issue more with how people hunt, particularly here in my area. They drop food in a specific place for a couple of months in a row to get the animal used to coming around looking for a meal. Then the go sit in a stand and wait for said animal to come over looking for a meal. I think that is quite lazy and not at all sporting.

      However if someone wants to play a game of that, as long as it isn’t breaking any laws I see no harm in it. For whatever the reason they enjoy it, I say let them have their fun. The market for games is large enough most everyone should be able to have a seat at the table so to speak. I am surprised, like John is, that the market for such a game is apparently as large as it is. Good for them I say. :)

  10. Plunkbat Oranges says:

    If only 11 Bit Studios had heeded my sage advice and renamed their game ‘Frostplunk’, they might have nabbed top honours…

  11. lancelot says:

    If you bought Counter-Strike or GTA last week, share your thoughts, John will appreciate that.

  12. Darth Gangrel says:

    In last week’s Steam charts MonkeyJug said “My prediction is Grand Theft Auto V for re-entry at number 9!”, and lo and behold, it’s at no. 9!

    I haven’t played BattleTech or any mech games, but it seems interesting. The “learning curve” you mention there or being/feeling bad the first time, but enjoying it more the second time is something I can relate to (but not with The Witcher, rather The Witcher 2).

    I can tolerate being crap at first if the game has distinct qualities and I can see how one could do things differently and more successfully. Many games don’t have that depth or make it too hard to see, leaving me with an urge to only play through the whole thing once or not even that.

  13. DeepFried says:

    Is this really just a top 10 feature? i’d of thought a movers round up would be more interesting, games entering the top 100, games leaving/entering the top 10, that sort of thing.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Serrit says:

    a game about 2B and A2, a pencil and a very large piece of paper

    Loved it :-)

  15. geldonyetich says:

    I thought it would be a cold day when we have something new near the top of the charts, and Frostpunk has played right into my expectations.

  16. fish99 says:

    Hunter has stunning environments and ambience, plus it requires patience and awareness. If you enjoy the stealthier approach in your FPS games, that’s largely what Hunter is, with the added element of tracking. Also shooting virtual animals should be no more off-putting than shooting virtual humans.

    Yes there are faster paced shooters with more explosions. Do you then only watch action films? Do racing simulators offer nothing over arcade racers? It’s just an odd comment for someone that seems to prefer deep story-driven games over the typical shallow action games the AAA scene produces.

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