Steam Dev Days 2016: Organic Growth and Rising Asia

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Here’s another article covering what we have learned during the Steam Dev Days. In the previous article I focused on the new Steam Controller API and what changes it will bring – here I would like to come back on their introduction about how the market is changing.

As you know Valve used to approve or reject by themselves what games to publish on their store for a long time, until they realized they could not keep up with the pace of candidates. This has resulted in the creation of the Greenlight and Early Access models, and since then the number of games released on Steam has skyrocketed. It’s not exponential, but you can clearly see an accelerating trend.

steamgrowth

When there is growth in terms of availability, usually this is tied to user base growth as well. We can see that being confirmed through the increase in numbers of concurrent users – note that this number may be inflated a little bit by the rise in popularity of multiplayer games (leading individual users to spend more time playing than for single-player games).

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As you can expect, more games and more users lead to more sales, and the revenue has been exploding in several regions – North America and Western Europe being the biggest markets, in the past 2 years they have seen 80% and 55% growth respectively. This. Is. HUGE. Imagine that most companies struggle to get more than a couple percents of revenue increase every year, Valve and its Steam store are still growing like a startup despite being a mature company.

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What’s more impressive even is the growth in other markets. Asia has been growing close to 500% and South Asia at about 340% in the same time span. Those are huge markets that may not have been using Steam much before (hence the large increase – if you go from 5 users to 25 that’s a 500% growth but it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of things) – and it would be more telling to look at absolute numbers as well, but still the trend is

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You can actually get a sense of which countries in Asia seem to be using Steam the most by looking at the public Steam Stats available on steampowered.com:

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Let’s see… China, very clearly, India as well (and this is a kind of surprise!), Japan, South Korea (North Korea is completely black),Taiwan…

Mongolia, meh, of course not – there’s more cattle there than people.

Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos, not much. But Thailand is hot spot!

Malaysia and Singapore seem to be very active, as well as the denser parts of Indonesia. And let’s not forget the Philippines!

How about the size of those respective markets ? If you look at the volume of downloads for the past 7 days, you can get some hints about where the user base size (this assumes that all users worldwide download roughly the same amount of data on average which is probably not true, but let’s follow that assumption anyway).

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No big surprise for the first two, but seeing China already so high is impressive – already ahead of Germany which is the largest Video Games market in Europe (that’s why the Gamescom is there). But let’s not stop there. South Korea is about the same size as France (and bigger than Australia) on Steam – and much bigger than Japan, despite having much less population. This is a confirmation of what we have known for years: South Korea is a big PC market, and it shows on Steam, very naturally.

Thailand is a kind of outlier – I don’t think I have heard much before about PC gaming in Thailand but it does seem to be a thing nowadays. Bigger than Japan, and about the same size as Spain. Just wow!

Finally, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines are still relatively small, but Indonesia and Malaysia are growing fast in the region and have large populations so this may be a reservoir of new Steam users in the very near future, too.

The fact that Japan is so weak is sad (it’s a consoles market mainly for home games), but the Steam numbers are somewhat encouraging. I know for a fact that a number of local indie devs tend to publish their games on Steam too, so the audience is bound to grow locally as well.

So there you have it:

    • Steam is still growing fast
    • Steam is making more money than ever
    • Growth is especially strong in Asia, with China, South Korea and Thailand.

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4 Comments

  1. “….the number of games released on Steam has skyrocketed.”
    I don’t think this has been entirely positive. A good number of these have been mediocre games, and the signal-to-noise ratio in the Steam Store has suffered, IMO.

    While I wish CD Projekt increased the expansion rate of the GOG catalog (and this may be negatively impacted by their commitment to remaining DRM-free, although I wouldn’t have it any other way), at the same time, I do appreciate their moderation. I’ve read a couple of posts from independent developers who voiced displeasure at having their games rejected for inclusion on GOG (at least one of which was on Steam); unfortunately I can’t remember the specifics, other than that CD Projekt essentially felt the games weren’t a good fit for GOG’s customers. That being said, there are plenty of independent developers who have games included on GOG. I’m also not claiming that every catalog addition to GOG is worthwhile, but at least there isn’t an onslaught of awful games.

  2. Can I ask, is this article specifically relating to gaming under Linux via Steam or is it relating to gaming via Steam in general with no reference to either Linux or Windows?

    The article doesn’t make it clear what it’s referring to.

    • This article is just about Steam itself and not specifically talking about Linux. Since Steam is the main retailer for Linux games it is still interesting for Linux users to understand how Steam as a whole is evolving.

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