Well, that's what you get reading between the lines of Gabe Newell's keynote at this year's DICE Summit, which featured the Valve boss speaking about his company's experience with Steam and how digital-download direct sales are an enormous success. G4 liveblogged the event in loving detail while Gamasutra did an overview of the whole thing. I'd read the whole G4 thing if I were you, if only to have a chuckle at the comment thread at the bottom full of PS3 owners who just won't let go. However, I'll pick out the key points - and some exciting percentages - beneath the cut.
The top level trends will be familiar to RPS readers. Direct Download closes the distance between the creators and the audience. Plain DRM actually seems to encourage piracy. (Though Steam is a DRM system - just one which offers a enough bonuses which makes the pill easier to swallow for the customer) Pirates are actually customers who aren't being served - and arguably the pirates are actually providing a better, more convenient service than actual retailers.
Some fun facts? Well, try these:
- There's twenty million people on Steam now. That's 100% year on year growth since 2004. Which sounds like some good year on year growth to me.
- The TF2 updates really pay off, with sale spikes after every update. 106% increase in sales. The ability to gift accounts has lead to a 71% increase in sales. It also helped retail, with revenue increase 28%. Also, a 75% increase in new users of Steam generally. The point I'd take from that is that Valve's policy of offering more to consumers is actually the smart commerical thing to do, assuming the increase in revenue is enough.
- The sales are having an enormous effect. The recent Left 4 Dead sale lead to a 3000% increase over the previous numbers. That is, more than in the weekend it was released. Plus, another 1600% in new customers to Steam. None of this effected retail numbers.
- One third party game - annoyingly, they don't say which one - saw increases of 36,000% in a weekend sale.
- The holiday sales lead to interesting numbers. A 10% reduction lead to 35% increase in amount of money which came in (i.e. Not just sales). 25% lead to a 245% increase. 50% lead to 320% increase. And 75% lead to 1470%. Which is an interesting one to interpret in a few ways.
- The people who made the TF2 videos are going to make TF2 comics. Interestink!
- And bloggers are important, apparently. Thanks, Gabe! We think you're pretty important too.
As I said, it's worth reading the whole liveblog but lots to think about, if only it's "I wish I had a lot of money".
Man, I wish I had a lot of money.