Recent Steam Summer Sale Brings Huge Profits.

This year, Steam took a different approach to their biannual sale event by eliminating “Flash Sales”. Steam’s infamous flash sales often offer massive discounts on titles for a limited amount of time. Once the clock ran out that deal, was off the table or became progressively worse. This lead to the compulsory purchasing behaviors many players have participated in for fear of missing a good deal. There is no time to think about it, no time to wonder if you really need a copy of  The Space Quest Collection, just buy.

Some were disappoint to find that during the 2016 Steam Summer Sal,e game deals would remain static. Some players felt the new approach had lost some of the intrinsic motivation for players to buy.  Now the sale is over, the dust has settled, and the Steam statistics machine SteamSpy have shared some of the results.


That is a 40% increase in revenue from last year’s Summer sale. Steam’s userbase also saw a significant increase this year as well. This increased by 45 million users, which brings their total user base to 175 million people. The platform also saw an increase in concurrent users. Averaging 12.2 million concurrent users, this demographic saw a increase of 26% over last year, indicating there are more players online this year over last.

So yes, some of the overwhelming success of this season’s sale may be attributed to more players participating.  Even so, it appears the removal of Flash Sales may have been proven effective. SteamSpy speculated that perhaps waiting on Flash Sales previously might have dissuaded players from making other purchases. Without the lure of the next possible big sale, players were free to consider more titles. Steam’s encouraged this exploration by rewarding players who review the queue of suggestions with Summer Sale trading cards. 


Another interesting trend this year was the discounting structure.  For those of you thinking that deals didn’t feel quite as sweet, you were right. Players bought almost 37 million copies of games, although there was smaller discounts than in previous sales.  This year, the average discount was 50% versus last years 66%. SteamSpy further broke those statistics down to show it was the titles with the smallest discounts that walked away with the most revenue. This also meant the biggest increase in revenue versus the same discount bracket last year.

“The median revenue for the games with a 75% discount was $33.5K this year ($40K last year), $40K for 66% ($75K), $60K for 50% ($90K), $106K for 33% ($90K) and $120K for 25% ($90K last year). There was only a handful of games discounted by 10%, most of them being recent releases.”

— Sergey Galyonkin, Steam Spy, game development and marketing. July 8, 2016

This is certainly great news for developers. Between the removal of the flash sale system and weaker discounts, over all there is less pressure for them to slash prices. In fact it appears that those offering minimal discounts benefited the most from the summer sale. Players might be less enthusiastic by these results, as it could indicate the end of rock bottom prices we have come to expect from Steam Sales.  It is unclear if these statistics indicate a new direction for Steam sales in the future.

What did you think of the Steam Summer Sale this year? Did Steam’s new strategy change the way you bought games?

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