Company:  Steam

Steam user data reveals the best way to do Free-To-Play

Apr 16, 2014

If you want an intense and fantastic example of Real Games Journalism, I recommend checking out Kyle Orland's exhaustive analysis of Steam user data at Ars Technica. It shows some incredibly interesting trends on how Steam users are buying -- and playing -- their games.

What I'm most interested in is what this means for free-to-play games and development in general. The top two games on Steam right now -- both in terms of total users and hours played -- are free-to-play. Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 both cost nothing to play, are essentially multiplayer-only, and started out as paid games. (In the case of Dota 2, that payment was to get into the closed beta.)

Ignoring Team Fortress 2 for a moment, I think Dota 2 is particularly interesting. About four thousand human years have been put into the game since it hit beta in 2011. My Steam profile says I account for nearly 400 hours of that, so I can hardly feign surprise.

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Steam is estimated to account for three-fourths of the PC gaming market so it's not surprising that a game by Valve, the service's creator, would have a top spot in downloads. Dota 2 gets understandably preferential treatment on Steam's front page just about daily. It's not surprising that a Valve game, according to Ars' statistics, makes up a fifth of total playtime on a Valve service.

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BlackSoul backpedals its way into Steam Early Access (and that’s worrisome)

Mar 5, 2014

PC

BlackSoul: Extended Edition is available on Steam. At first it was labeled as a complete game, but now it’s made the jump – retroactively – to Early Access. What happened?

 According to the developer, as well as the Steam community, the game was released in a rather dire state.

The developer stated in an email that “we are receiving a lot of feedback and we found the game still need some more work to make it more enjoyable, so our decision is to keep supporting it with further updates...”

The email was apparently sent to multiple publications that received review codes for the game. It goes on to say the game “might also switch to Early Access,” although it seems they chose to do so rather quickly, as the game is now listed as such on Steam.

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Orion: Dino Horde avoids extinction, sells 500,000 through a Steam event

Mar 4, 2014

PC

When Orion: Dino Beatdown launched in 2012, it was a developer's worst nightmare. The critics tore the game apart, some even ranking the game as one of the worst games of the year. Orion: Dino Beatdown released as a buggy, broken mess, and Spiral Game Studios knew they had to do something in order to fix their reputation. In 2013, Orion: Dino Beatdown was rebranded Orion: Dino Horde and the game went on to receive a number of free content updates and plenty of patches to ensure the stability of the game and a future for the brand.

To entice players apprehensive about giving the remodeled game a try, and breathe life back into the game's community for existing game owners, Spiral Game Studios promoted Orion: Dino Horde on Steam through a weeklong, free-to-play event. Between February 20th and the 27th, Steam users could give the game a try at no cost. The game itself was heavily discounted to $1 (from $14.99) during the duration of the event as well.

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If you promise Steam keys, you’d better have Steam keys

Feb 24, 2014

By now, it’s no longer a secret that Valve is thinking about killing off Steam Greenlight. Until it actually disappears though, it’s still fertile ground for stories like the one you’re about to read. Call it a tale of how social media can be a double-edged sword when trying to drum up support for your indie game.

The game in question is called Zombies. The period is actually part of the name (hey, it did the job for fun.), though there are no actual zombies in it. Plus it’s changing to Corporate Lifestyle Simulator anyway.

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Like many indie games, this pixelated action-shooter is a part of bundle deals on several popular sites. Some of them promised that buyers would receive Steam keys for the game if/when it was greenlit (or greenlighted, as I never know which way is proper) – a common though not universal feature of these bundles.

The game was greenlit, but there was a bit of a catch: as explained by NeoGAF user chubigans, the developer had no intention of giving bundle buyers Steam keys, regardless of what the deals stated. At issue was his feeling that he should receive the customer data for everyone who purchased his game, unwilling to hand over “thousands of keys” to the bundle sites.

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Steam Greenlight approves another 50, Galactic Princess included

Feb 22, 2014

The latest batch of games approved through Steam Greenlight was announced on Wednesday. Fifty titles were chosen, including Lost Decade Game's A Wizard's Lizard, Rat King Entertainment's Tri, and Cecly's Galactic Princess. Some of these titles have already been released on other platforms or storefronts and are just now making their way onto Steam, while others are still in development. Galactic Princess, for example, is just over a week into its Kickstarter campaign.

"These titles were selected on the same criteria we have been using in the past: Votes in Greenlight give us a hugely valuable point of data in gauging community interest along with external factors such as press reviews, crowd-funding successes, performance on other similar platforms, and awards and contests to help form a more complete picture of community interest in each title," Valve community spokesperson Alden Kroll explained in the announcement post.

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You can use that very same link to the announcement post to view the complete list of all fifty games that made the cut this time around. And when you’re done doing that, why not pick out a few of your favorites and get to gaming?

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Catlateral Damage, Dungeonforge, and 48 other titles greenlight for Steam distribution

Jan 26, 2014

On January 21st, Valve announced that fifty more titles have been approved through their Greenlight program. Included in the fifty selected titles is Catlateral Damage (which we just covered last week) as well as Dungeonforge, No Photos, Please!, and Path to the Sky.

"These titles were selected on the same criteria we have been using in the past," Valve explains in the announcement post. "Votes in Greenlight give us a hugely valuable point of data in gauging community interest along with external factors such as press reviews, crowd-funding successes, performance on other similar platforms, and awards and contests to help form a more complete picture of community interest in each title."

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2013 was the year of…

Dec 30, 2013

Open-ended questions are tough. Depending on which lens you view the last year through, ‘2013 was the year of…’ could be answered a lot of different ways. We can the last year through our personal experiences as gamers, as industry watchers, as developers, as financial analysts – everybody wears a different hat, and everyone’s ‘2013 was’ would be different.

As the Editor-in-Chief of Gamezebo, these are mine. There’s a mix of industry observation, personal feelings, and unavoidable truths – but what I really what to write about are YOUR thoughts on what 2013 was the year of. Unfortunately for me, the only one who can do that is you.

Once you’ve read through my thoughts on the year, let us hear yours in the comments below! What do you think 2013 was the year of?

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Bad Hotel comes to Steam October 16th

Oct 11, 2013

You know what’s even better than playing a game so good that it earns a perfect score on Gamezebo? Seeing that same game jump in front of a whole new audience. On October 16, developer Lucky Frame will be bringing their iOS strategy/music hybrid to PC and Mac gamers via Steam.

“Bad Hotel got an amazing reception when we released it on iOS, including getting nominated for a prestigious IGF Award for Excellence in Audio,” Lucky Frame’s Yann Seznec told Gamezebo. “Being a nominee in 2013 meant that we got an automatic Steam release agreement, which was an incredible opportunity for us - it can be quite difficult for indie devs like us to get a game onto Steam, so it was not an opportunity we could pass up.”

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If you’re worried about touch controls not translating well to a keyboard and mouse, don’t worry. Yann tells us that “the tapping/swiping controls from the original version actually work quite well with a mouse.” In fact, the only real changes you’ll notice are peripheral bonuses. “The art style for Bad Hotel is so cool that we thought it would be a waste not to make all of the trading cards, backgrounds, and achievements that Steam supports.”

Can’t wait to check it out for yourself? You’ll be able to snag Bad Hotel for $4.99 when it launches on Steam on October 16.

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Multiple Steam machines coming in 2014

Sep 25, 2013

On Monday we told you that Valve would be dishing out its very own operating system called SteamOS, with the promise of being able to run on any “living room machine.” Well now we finally have some sort of idea as to what those mysterious living room machines will be, as Valve shed some light today on the proverbial “Steam Box.” And as it turns out, it looks like we’ll have multiple Steam boxes to look forward to in the New Year.

There will reportedly be several different models of Steam gaming machines to choose from, and if the artwork on the official announcement page is anything to go by, then it looks like you’ll have your choice from a variety of different colored and rectangular-shaped hardware. There’s no word yet on what kinds of specific factors will differentiate the various models of the Steam machine, other than being made by different manufacturers, but Valve promises more information on this very soon (as well as a screenshot of what the actual prototype will look like in person!).

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All of the upcoming Steam machine models will be running on the new SteamOS operating system once they’re released to the masses sometime in 2014. However, there’s also a chance that you could be one of the very lucky few who will be chosen to test out a new Steam box as early as this year! Valve will be shipping out a limited run of 300 free Steam boxes before 2013 is over, so players have a chance to test it out and provide Valve with valuable feedback about the new system, as well as SteamOS.

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Valve unveils SteamOS; a new Linux-based operating system for your living room

Sep 23, 2013

The first of three mysterious announcements from Valve has been unveiled today, and it looks like Steam will be getting a brand new free operating system designed to take advantage of your TV and your living room. It’s certainly the next logical step for the innovative gaming company after the recent success of their Steam Big Picture Mode.

The newly coined “SteamOS” will use a Linux-based architecture combined with a Steam gaming experience that is fine-tuned for the big screen. But the best part about the new operating system so far? The fact that Steam OS will be available as a “free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.”

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The official announcement page for SteamOS tells us that the operating system is capable of running on “any living room machine,” and that it will come with a significant performance upgrade that not only increases the breadth of graphics processing, but also audio performance as well.

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