How has the flood of Steam games affected the average indie dev?

"It's an interesting situation, really. Valve makes more money, the top devs make roughly the same, but an average developer makes less."

Sergey Galyonkin, the man behind third-party statistic tracker Steam Spy, has published some data showing how well indie titles have been performing on Steam since the introduction of Steam Direct, also taking into account the general inundation of the platform's storefront.

The data-packed Google Doc specifically analyzes the first month sales performance of all games in the 'indie' genre released in the two months since the new self-publishing platform was rolled out.

Galyonkin then compared that data with stats from 2016 and 2015 to see what he could learn about the impact of Steam Direct, which replaced Valve's Greenlight system earlier this year

Before we dive in, it's worth pointing out that - as with all Steam Spy data - there are some caveats to keep in mind.

For instance, sales outside of Steam and giveaways aren't always accounted for, and Galyonkin's 'naive revenue' doesn't account for things like VAT, taxes, or Steam share, meaning actual revenue will always be smaller than his own estimates -- and could be 20 to 40 percent lower depending on the title in question. 

Bearing those things in mind, the data (featured in the table below) shows the total overall first month sales of all indie titles has increased by 25 percent since 2015, although mean average revenue dropped off by 50 percent during that time. 

It also suggests the top 10 titles don't seem to be affected as much by the switch to Direct, with Galyonkin explaining "it's the long tail that suffers."

"It's an interesting situation, really," he wrote on Twitter. "Valve makes more money, the top devs make roughly the same, but an average developer makes less."

Continuing his dissection, he noted that the overall number of indie releases has more than doubled since 2015, but total revenue only went up by 25 percent. 

He also pointed out that one publisher has allegedly released over 100 games since Steam Direct launched in June, so right now it's hard to fully understand the actual impact the service is having on real developers. 

"It's quite possible that a big share of new releases on Steam Direct was caused by shady publishers pushing 'game-shaped objects,'" he continued. "If that's the case, that nothing has really changed for an average dev, expect for discovery, which was bad to start with anyway."

Again, it's worth taking everything here with a pinch of salt given the assumptions in play. But if you're still interested in looking at the broadstrokes, feel free to check out the full data set by clicking right here

Latest Jobs

Xbox Game Studios

Redmond, Washington
Technical Lighting Artist


Hamburg, Germany
Game Designer - Elvenar

Six Foot

Houston, TX
Six Foot Director, Player Relations

Hometopia Inc.

Lead Engineer
More Jobs   


Explore the
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer Newsletter


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more