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Valve on Steam Growth

Valve announces what they are calling "extraordinary" growth for the Steam service during 2009. Here's a bit:

During the last calendar year the platform surpassed 25 million active accounts, up 25% from the prior year. Of the 25 million accounts, over 10 million of those have profiles in the Steam Community.

In addition to the millions of new accounts created during the year, the peak number of concurrent users eclipsed the 2.5 million mark during the month of December, pushing Steam's average monthly player minutes to more than 13 billion.

Meanwhile, Steam now offers over 1,000 games from over 100 developers and publishers around the world. Unit sales for 2009 increased by more than 205%, marking the fifth straight year the platform has realized over 100% year-over-year growth in unit sales.

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29 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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29. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Feb 3, 2010, 18:49 ^Drag0n^
 
In general, the expansion of steam is good. It validates conservation of energy.

^D^
 
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28. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 30, 2010, 14:46 Dev
 
DG:
I'm well aware of things like apple's products getting very little profit for retail stores. Thats because apple controls the price very carefully, and in fact restricts stores from advertising lower prices on most of thier stuff. Thats why you very very seldom see things like ipods go on sale, they might bundle stuff with them sometimes thats about it. Its called a MAP (minimum advertised price) and is why when you goto amazon sometimes they make you add an item to cart to see the low price. Its not because they are trying to screw you, its because that company restricts the pricing that amazon can advertise for the product. Apple is not alone on this. Any products that rarely go on sale are usually the exact same in terms of pricing controls
Do you remember when compusa had those cost +7% sales? The prices were seldom very good on computers, because they don't make a whole lot on most of them (except for higher end stuff). When you see those black friday sales, most of them are below cost, and many of them have manufacture rebates which don't come out of the store's bottom line.
The stores make all the money on cables and things like that. Those belkin cables? Typical markup is 1000%. Monster cables are probably higher. They take the hit on stuff like ipods in the hopes that people will buy accessories or extended warranties from the store.

That has NOTHING nada ZERO to do with cut that valve gets with steam. At a bare minimum valve has to process the credit payments which is usually a few percent plus per transaction fees. Why in the world would valve want to suck up several percent loss on each purchase of the incredibly popular MW2 game? Plus the not insigificant costs of bandwith from here on out. They may have agreed to a lower percentage to get exclusive but I would be shocked if they agreed to less than 25% of each MW2 sold through steam. Remember that a big draw for the publishers with digital is that they ALSO get a much bigger cut. With retail and distributers of the boxed product, the publishers typically get only about $15 out of a $60 game. Valve could tell activision that they will take 1/2 of $60 and still give activision twice as much per sale as they'd make on a retail box.

This comment was edited on Jan 30, 2010, 14:48.
 
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27. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 30, 2010, 14:28 DG
 
Dev wrote on Jan 30, 2010, 11:58:
DG:
No way is steam going to sell things for "nothing at all" in terms of a cut, especially not a big game like MW2. Keep in mind they have to pay for bandwidth and payment processing and handling some support issues and some patching logistics, etc.
OK, so not really "nothing at all", but yes, not getting any fee is quite plausable IMHO. I'd go so far as to suggest that it is more likely that any cut would barely cover cost, rather than anything approaching the usual margins.

Making a cut on the type of sales that MW2 rakes in would be very tasty, but more important than that is simply having MW2 "on the shelves". A friend works at a large department store, she says they make almost nothing on iPod sales and the whole thing turns into a loss once you factor in the store having a renown returns policy vs Apple having a notorious returns policy (i.e. the store doesn't even bother trying with iPods anymore). But they have to stock iPods because it's an important product for their customers, they take the hit and consider it a marketing/branding cost.

So yeah, Valve may well consider running at a loss (maybe not a big one) just for that.

But, IIRC MW2 *requires* Steam. That's really valuable to Valve, a game "important" enough that people who might otherwise shy away from Steam are going to be installing and using steam. Getting used to it and maybe buying more games. Probably a significant portion of that 25% is thanks to MW2. That's a big deal, definitely worth having it as a loss leader, even a significant loss.
 
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26. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 30, 2010, 13:46 Prez
 
Prez:
Nuke power actually is much cheaper for people living near it. You may be thinking of fusion power which hasn't panned out yet. Also, only about 20% of our power is nuclear so...
Interestingly enough, one of the co-founders of greenpeace is now actually FOR nuclear power now.

I worked in nuclear power for 10 years. The promise of ubiquitous, free power for the masses has NOT come close to fruition. And fusion didn't just "not pan out", it's currently impossible to harness in any meaningful way. Maybe in 20 years...
 
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25. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 30, 2010, 11:58 Dev
 
kxmode:
Active accounts surely means they signed in at least once during the year. No other definition would make sense to use in this case. So yeah, I'm sure a small percentage of people signed in once, and then never again for the whole year. I have people on my friends list who haven't signed in for nearly a year. I probably need to prune it down a bit.

Prez:
Nuke power actually is much cheaper for people living near it. You may be thinking of fusion power which hasn't panned out yet. Also, only about 20% of our power is nuclear so...
Interestingly enough, one of the co-founders of greenpeace is now actually FOR nuclear power now.

DG:
No way is steam going to sell things for "nothing at all" in terms of a cut, especially not a big game like MW2. Keep in mind they have to pay for bandwidth and payment processing and handling some support issues and some patching logistics, etc.

rist3903:
MS would never consent to selling thier big stuff (like OS, office, etc) through steam. I agree, would be cool to buy things other than OS, and might eventually happen, but MS is the kinda company that would start up thier own digital service (because they'd want to have control and take business away from steam) before theyd ever allow steam to do something like that.
And in MS's case, it would probably end up being a yearly subscription to windows/office to use it from thier digital service. They've tried to have subscription models before for thier products.

This comment was edited on Jan 30, 2010, 12:00.
 
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24. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 30, 2010, 08:04 rist3903
 
would be pretty sweet if Valve branched out into non gaming software.

I am envisioning purchasing an entire operating system like windows 7 through steam. A steam boot up app could be used to start said system from scratch.

All you would need would be a net connection.
 
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23. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 19:00 ventry
 
Now you know why they are "reluctant" to conclude the half-life series.
Moneys just pouring in via Steam.
Why spend 3 to 5 years developing when you can "cookie cut" games with a 1 or 2 year dev cycle (i.e L4D, L4D2) or continue to add meaningless addons to existing games (i.e. TF2).
Can you imagine the mess TF2 is going to be in a year or 2?
It's a shame because when the focus becomes money you lose focus on what made you great in the first place.

Just my opinion. Please control fan boi rage.
 
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22. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 18:37 DG
 
I'm generally a big steam fan, I think the last PC game I bought outside of Steam was Civ IV.

Sure the pricing sometimes is well out of kilter with retail, but if you pay any attention you'll notice this is more dependent on the publisher. Some are good at keeping the steam price around retail, others... not so much.

One of the things I like steam for is it's like DRM that offers something in return. Most publishers just want to add DRM to "protect" their game, steam seems to say "ok, so we have this drm, and you cant sell the game second hand, but you can keep all your games in a nice list, redownload whenever you want, have a consistent community..." They make the drm work both ways, and personally the benefits are such that a valve game on steam is preferable to the same game bought from a retailer even if it had no drm.

PS. I reckon valve make around 1/3 of the selling price of each game, though less - quite plausibly even nothing at all - on major titles like MW2. Steam is almost certainly the most important thing in PC gaming since Quake 3, nay, DOOM.

This comment was edited on Jan 29, 2010, 18:38.
 
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21. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 18:04 Prez
 
My only concern is that there is no real competitor to Steam at the moment. Valve generally does the right thing by gamers, so it isn't a huge issue. But it would nice to see them have some real competition to keep them honest nonetheless.

As far as pricing goes, while we've all heard the usual claptrap about how some new fandangled thing is going to save us money, the reality of the situation is that, in any medium, any savings usually go to the business and not the consumer. Nuclear power was going to give us all free power according to the claims made in the early days. Cable TV was going to be next to free and without commercials to boot. Ringing up our own groceries or hardware at the self-checkout places at retailers like Walmart and Home Depot was supposed to mean lower prices on the items. The reality is always different of course.

In general, because the price of games has not really risen with inflation over time, I'm okay with the devs keeping the extra revenue from digital distribution in order to keep prices at 50 bucks. I'll accept that games are the same price as retail, but I won't pay 60 bucks for a digitally released game.

This comment was edited on Jan 29, 2010, 18:27.
 
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20. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 17:52 shponglefan
 
Warskull wrote on Jan 29, 2010, 15:21:
While steam may lag on permanent price cuts, I feel the make up for it with their sales. Steam puts things on sale sooner and gives a better deal than retail. You can very often catch a 25% off sales within the first 3 months. Just look at the absolutely insane sales this winter. Torchlight for 75% off, Trine for over 50% off, a bunch of games under $5, great deals on L4D2, and many others.

Steam's incredibly competitive sales are the top reason I keep going back to them.

Agreed. Their sales just can't be beat. And now they've started to discount games to ridiculous levels ($2 for the X-Com collection? SOLD!). Of course, the downside of all these sales is I've now got a backlog of Steam games that I have to eventually play. And the backlog is growing.
 
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19. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 17:12 I've Got The News Blues
 
LMN8R wrote on Jan 29, 2010, 16:33:
Who the fuck is dumb enough to make a legitimate Steam account and stay logged into it while playing a pirated version of Modern Warfare 2?
every pirate who is playing the game online or through a cracked version of Steam

And if you believe those statistics are tracking pirates, I have a bridge I want to sell you...
Apparently you bought that bridge from someone else first since you don't believe it when it is true.

This comment was edited on Jan 30, 2010, 01:07.
 
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18. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 17:07 elefunk
 
Maybe the unit sales for 2009 increasing by more than 205%, will count for something then... Or, consecutive 100% YoY growth in unit sales for five straight years...
No you fool. 205% year-over-year growth obviously accounts for pirated games on Steam too.

 
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17. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 16:52 Keilun
 
Rhett wrote on Jan 29, 2010, 16:29:
How many of these new accounts were just people trying to play a pirated Modern Warfare 2 anyway?

Maybe the unit sales for 2009 increasing by more than 205%, will count for something then... Or, consecutive 100% YoY growth in unit sales for five straight years...
 
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16. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 16:33 elefunk
 
How many of these new accounts were just people trying to play a pirated Modern Warfare 2 anyway?
Oh please. Who the fuck is dumb enough to make a legitimate Steam account and stay logged into it while playing a pirated version of Modern Warfare 2?

Besides, Modern Warfare 2 has been the most popular, most-played game on Steam since its release. The first game ever to beat out Counter-Strike on the service. And if you believe those statistics are tracking pirates, I have a bridge I want to sell you...
 
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15. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 16:29 Rhett
 
How many of these new accounts were just people trying to play a pirated Modern Warfare 2 anyway?  
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14. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 15:45 Mostly_Harmless
 
007Bistromath wrote on Jan 29, 2010, 14:45:
They just charge basically what everyone else does.

That would depend on where you are, buying new release games from Steam in the UK is expensive, they generally sell for the equivalent of the RRP store price, which in reality nobody ever pays (unless they're stupid). For a new release I can usually pick up a physical copy of a game for around £10 less than it sells on Steam, without spending a great deal of effort shopping around.
I'm a sucker for those weekend deals and the winter sales though

This comment was edited on Jan 29, 2010, 15:46.
 
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13. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 15:21 Warskull
 
I can't understand the people complaining about Steam pricing in this thread. They just charge basically what everyone else does. Sometimes Steam lags a bit on price cuts, but I'll gladly pay more for a Steam title, because I consider a game that I don't need to worry about losing the disc for to be a valuable thing, and Valve is the one company with this kind of DRM that I actually trust to open up the system if/when they fold. Aside from that, sales, sometimes ridiculous sales, are much more common on Steam than through any other retailer I'm aware of, and I rarely miss them because all I have to do to find out about most of them is log in.

While steam may lag on permanent price cuts, I feel the make up for it with their sales. Steam puts things on sale sooner and gives a better deal than retail. You can very often catch a 25% off sales within the first 3 months. Just look at the absolutely insane sales this winter. Torchlight for 75% off, Trine for over 50% off, a bunch of games under $5, great deals on L4D2, and many others.

Steam's incredibly competitive sales are the top reason I keep going back to them.

This comment was edited on Jan 29, 2010, 15:22.
 
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12. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 15:20 Kxmode
 
In WOW "active account" means paying and in good standing. I know many who have two or three accounts.

In Second Life "residents" is the total number of registered accounts. But the numbers they used to display didn't gel with the last 30-day online totals.

So what exactly defines an "active account" on Steam?
 
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11. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 14:53 Wolfen
 
Because one the things hyped back when digital distribution started was that it was to lower the cost for the buyer. I dont think its steam setting the prices though. Im sure its the publisher or developer or both. Valve may have some input on prices, but ultimately I dont think its there final say. So if the game is 60 bucks I dont blame steam for that. I do complain that the digital games in general have suddenly become the same price as boxed items, when I know they were at least 10 bucks cheaper when this fad started up.

Steam and Valve in general rock in my opinion.
 
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10. Re: Valve on Steam Growth Jan 29, 2010, 14:45 007Bistromath
 
I can't understand the people complaining about Steam pricing in this thread. They just charge basically what everyone else does. Sometimes Steam lags a bit on price cuts, but I'll gladly pay more for a Steam title, because I consider a game that I don't need to worry about losing the disc for to be a valuable thing, and Valve is the one company with this kind of DRM that I actually trust to open up the system if/when they fold. Aside from that, sales, sometimes ridiculous sales, are much more common on Steam than through any other retailer I'm aware of, and I rarely miss them because all I have to do to find out about most of them is log in.  
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