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Ascheroth

Writing in the Megastructure
Nov 12, 2018
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Oof. Though I believe it has been reviewed mainly on consoles, so their ignorance of the PC experience in general doesn't change. Or maybe they have to test every version? In which case...

It's just a launcher guys!
Borderlands 3? As far as I saw there are actually no reviews about the console version so far, since they only gave away review-copies (or rather accounts in this case) for the egs version. It's pretty bizarre - especially since it doesn't seem to be reviewing badly - and seems to be all on 2K/Gearbox.
 
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CommodoreKong

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Jun 15, 2019
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I wonder what sort of schedule Tim Sweeney keeps, This isn't the first time I've seen him reply to a tweet in the middle of the night (including one of my tweets). I figure he must be a night owl. I guess when you're a billionaire and own the majority stake in your own company you can work whatever hours you want.
 

Swenhir

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Apr 18, 2019
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Borderlands 3? As far as I saw there are actually no reviews about the console version so far, since they only gave away review-copies (or rather accounts in this case) for the egs version. It's pretty bizarre - especially since it doesn't seem to be reviewing badly - and seems to be all on 2K/Gearbox.
This is delicious! All these people are having to experience what they have been chastising their audience for resisting all this time. I am also delighted at hearing about Rockfish pushing in the direction of listening to their audience. Another good sign of the way the wind is blowing.

And those tweets of Sweeney... Who was it that said the DARQ developer was unprofessional? I'd love their opinion on something. Asking for a friend.
 
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EdwardTivrusky

See You Hyper-Toxic Computer Cowboy
Dec 8, 2018
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I couldn't give a monkeys what his schedule is, I just wish he'd spend his time on something that isn't EGS. Epic should've invested their Forntnite bucks into creating more comprehensive middleware, because that's what they're good at.
Or, you know, making new games.
I'd be really surprised if they aren't prototyping new game ideas for when Fortnite pops and the next new thing comes along. I know Fortnite is a juggernaut at the moment so they've got plenty of time and money. I suppose UnReal Engine is their middle-wear now and that's bringing mad bundles of cash too.
 

Alexandros

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Nov 4, 2018
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Samson

boop
Aug 2, 2019
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Heraklion
Slightly tangential, but this "analysis" from Mike Rose that's going around seems like kind of...a farce? If you read the methodology, it feels like a mess.


He's only looking at one month (July 5 to August 6 2019), and then he's kind of just culling the 900 games from that month to 170 in a really messy way, in such a way that I can't understand if its actually statistically viable.

And then he's taking those July 2019 games, and comparing them to July 2018, without doing anything (as far as I can see) to control for potential differences in things like sales habits (i.e., the Summer Seal ended July 9th in 2019, and July 5th in 2018) or general zeitgeist (e.g., do we have any analysis on how a zeitgeist-defining, time-consuming game like FFXIV: Shadowbringers could impact/depress sales? I would similarly guess September 2019's sales numbers are going to be decimated by WoW Classic).

And then, as if that's not enough, there's this weird slide:


Which I dunno, admittedly it has been a while since I formally worked with datasets in a program like SPSS or something...but this seems like really unsound to be stating as advice?

Correlation between higher prices and higher revenues doesn't really tell us much of anything in terms of causation with revenues.

Like you're not going to go and tell an indie dev, "Oh boy, the $60 AAA games make MILLIONS more than the games priced at $10, so clearly you're underpricing yourself."

So how do we know the answer is "Your game is priced too low" and not "You need to find ways to invest more in making your games more substantial in terms of quality and content to yield better revenue returns"?

I guess maybe if you delve into the dataset, maybe you'll find that even garbage games priced at $25 sell well. But that still doesn't tell you much about why that relationship exists. Is $25 viewed as a kind of semi-prestige price point (an indie version of the $60 prestige price of AAA retail games?), which causes people to be more interested in buying even bad games at that price? But is it possible that the reason a few bad games can still make a lot of money at $25 is because $25 is a prestige price that they mooch off of, and more devs moving their (potentially) mediocre titles to that elevated price would crash that prestige price point for everyone?

And then he ends his pseudo-analysis with this gem:


Yeah, obviously we shouldn't be harassing devs. But this pseudo-analysis did nothing to prove that the devs taking the EGS deals are the ones seeing their revenue decline the most, and the ones in most need of cash injections.

Hint: They're not! EGS is only for indie darlings!
 

Alexandros

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Nov 4, 2018
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Slightly tangential, but this "analysis" from Mike Rose that's going around seems like kind of...a farce? If you read the methodology, it feels like a mess.


He's only looking at one month (July 5 to August 6 2019), and then he's kind of just culling the 900 games from that month to 170 in a really messy way, in such a way that I can't understand if its actually statistically viable.

And then he's taking those July 2019 games, and comparing them to July 2018, without doing anything (as far as I can see) to control for potential differences in things like sales habits (i.e., the Summer Seal ended July 9th in 2019, and July 5th in 2018) or general zeitgeist (e.g., do we have any analysis on how a zeitgeist-defining, time-consuming game like FFXIV: Shadowbringers could impact/depress sales? I would similarly guess September 2019's sales numbers are going to be decimated by WoW Classic).

And then, as if that's not enough, there's this weird slide:


Which I dunno, admittedly it has been a while since I formally worked with datasets in a program like SPSS or something...but this seems like really unsound to be stating as advice?

Correlation between higher prices and higher revenues doesn't really tell us much of anything in terms of causation with revenues.

Like you're not going to go and tell an indie dev, "Oh boy, the $60 AAA games make MILLIONS more than the games priced at $10, so clearly you're underpricing yourself."

So how do we know the answer is "Your game is priced too low" and not "You need to find ways to invest more in making your games more substantial in terms of quality and content to yield better revenue returns"?

I guess maybe if you delve into the dataset, maybe you'll find that even garbage games priced at $25 sell well. But that still doesn't tell you much about why that relationship exists. Is $25 viewed as a kind of semi-prestige price point (an indie version of the $60 prestige price of AAA retail games?), which causes people to be more interested in buying even bad games at that price? But is it possible that the reason a few bad games can still make a lot of money at $25 is because $25 is a prestige price that they mooch off of, and more devs moving their (potentially) mediocre titles to that elevated price would crash that prestige price point for everyone?

And then he ends his pseudo-analysis with this gem:


Yeah, obviously we shouldn't be harassing devs. But this pseudo-analysis did nothing to prove that the devs taking the EGS deals are the ones seeing their revenue decline the most, and the ones in most need of cash injections.

Hint: They're not! EGS is only for indie darlings!
Yeah, it is a bad survey and his closing statement is also bad. Not only is his methodology very spotty, the way he tries to tie his conclusion with "leave moneyhatted devs alone" is also pretty blatant. Adding to the issues that you already mentioned, his choice of basing his conclusion on percentages (the top 20% of indie games released during that period) instead of an absolute number (for example, the top 100 indie games on Steam) means that the results are heavily skewed by the total number of games released within that period in each year. If in 2018 the top 20% contained 50 games and in 2019 it contained 150 games then average revenue will naturally drop.

One other interesting thing to note. Where's the console sales data? The lack of commentary on sales numbers on console has been a consistent trend in all of these articles and surveys. If Steam is this massive black hole that sucks indie games in, never to be heard from again, you'd think that providing strong sales numbers from heavily curated stores that supposedly offer so much more support to developers would drive the point home pretty effectively.

One explanation could be that sales numbers on console are worse so providing them would compromise the narrative that Steam is directly to blame for indie developers not making much money, but I suspect another more hilarious reason: the developers participating in these surveys can't get their games on console because 'curation' is cutting their games and their revenue from consoles is $0.
 

Swenhir

Junior Member
Apr 18, 2019
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Correlation, causation and that nice wrapping of loaded, inflammatory message at the end that I suspect colored the whole so-called study. All in all, not a very intellectually honest series of tweets.

One other interesting thing to note. Where's the console sales data? The lack of commentary on sales numbers on console has been a consistent trend in all of these articles and surveys. If Steam is this massive black hole that sucks indie games in, never to be heard from again, you'd think that providing strong sales numbers from heavily curated stores that supposedly offer so much more support to developers would drive the point home pretty effectively.

One explanation could be that sales numbers on console are worse so providing them would compromise the narrative that Steam is directly to blame for indie developers not making much money, but I suspect another more hilarious reason: the developers participating in these surveys can't get their games on console because 'curation' is cutting their games and their revenue from consoles is $0.
It's bad form to rock the establishment's boat. Besides, if the conversation around sales numbers, curation and the cut was held with anything remotely approaching fairness and honesty, consoles would have been part of it from day one as well as the ugly truth : they are walled gardens and that's the end of that.
 
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Ge0force

Collector of hidden agendas
Jan 12, 2019
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Yeah, it is a bad survey and his closing statement is also bad. Not only is his methodology very spotty, the way he tries to tie his conclusion with "leave moneyhatted devs alone" is also pretty blatant.
Exactly. And the people claiming that this is caused by "good games being buried under loads of shovelware on Steam" are talking nonsense as well. There are just too many good and too many similar games on pc. And too many casual/mainstream gamers still consider any games without AAA graphics as worthless.
 

Ascheroth

Writing in the Megastructure
Nov 12, 2018
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Yeah, it is a bad survey and his closing statement is also bad. Not only is his methodology very spotty, the way he tries to tie his conclusion with "leave moneyhatted devs alone" is also pretty blatant. Adding to the issues that you already mentioned, his choice of basing his conclusion on percentages (the top 20% of indie games released during that period) instead of an absolute number (for example, the top 100 indie games on Steam) means that the results are heavily skewed by the total number of games released within that period in each year. If in 2018 the top 20% contained 50 games and in 2019 it contained 150 games then average revenue will naturally drop.

One other interesting thing to note. Where's the console sales data? The lack of commentary on sales numbers on console has been a consistent trend in all of these articles and surveys. If Steam is this massive black hole that sucks indie games in, never to be heard from again, you'd think that providing strong sales numbers from heavily curated stores that supposedly offer so much more support to developers would drive the point home pretty effectively.

One explanation could be that sales numbers on console are worse so providing them would compromise the narrative that Steam is directly to blame for indie developers not making much money, but I suspect another more hilarious reason: the developers participating in these surveys can't get their games on console because 'curation' is cutting their games and their revenue from consoles is $0.
I actually checked the number of releases (via SteamSpy, it should at least be reliable for tracking that right?) and it looks like July 2019 actually had less releases than July 2018. (679 in 2019 vs 744 in 2018).
Of course there are a myriad of external reasons that make this a bit shaky, like the Steam summer sale ended later in 2019 than in 2018 etc.
 

EdwardTivrusky

See You Hyper-Toxic Computer Cowboy
Dec 8, 2018
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Yeah, i'm not sure what Mike's agenda is here. He's supposed to be a numbers man yet it seems a little off to me and has done since his announcement just after Descenders launched. Is he trying to renegotiate with Valve or court the EGS Habidashers? I'm a little cynical at the moment regarding these things and it's always about money but i'd like to see a data-science person chime in on his methodology etc.
 

FunktionJCB

Something Wicked This Way Comes
Oct 10, 2018
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He's supposed to be a numbers man yet it seems a little off to me
I'm a "numbers man" myself (I have to be, since I'm an accountant :giggle:), and I'll just say it out loud: he is pulling these numbers out of his ass. :grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes:

If I was an indie developer looking for a publisher, and I saw this guy posting this, it definitely wouldn't leave a strong impression.
If he runs his company making previsions and estimates like this, they will definitely last long.
 
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daxy

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Dec 6, 2018
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Yeah, i'm not sure what Mike's agenda is here. He's supposed to be a numbers man yet it seems a little off to me and has done since his announcement just after Descenders launched. Is he trying to renegotiate with Valve or court the EGS Habidashers? I'm a little cynical at the moment regarding these things and it's always about money but i'd like to see a data-science person chime in on his methodology etc.
Not a data-science person per se, but without going into too much detail my grad focus involved quantitative data analysis, so plenty of looking at spreadsheets, datasets, regressions, charts and so forth. I've also been out of the game for a while, unfortunately. Knowing the limitations of my atrophying expertise, I'll try to be as modest as possible interpreting the slides.

Removing the top and bottom to get rid of outliers is ok. Especially if it's polluting the data as he says. It can be useful to see the full spread just to get an idea of in which revenue range the majority of games lie. Especially if you want contrast that against what a 'typical' game might come to expect. That kind of contextualization is nice, even when you have wild outliers. From there, you can narrow the scope of the data again to zoom in on a specific subset or issue. There were three instances whereby the data was modified: 1. removing all games with less than 10 reviews, 2. removing AAA and 3. removing top and bottom 5%. I don't know if that last step was necessary personally without seeing the data. I would've expected the first two limitations to be sufficient, but this could have its reasons. I've always removed outliers manually rather than indiscriminately removing them based on a fixed percentage. If they are strongly affecting the outcome of the data, I would assume it'd be easy to pick out the ones that aren't representative.

It would've been good to have visuals. Data analysis software can produce really informative visualizations. A basic box and whiskers plot would've done wonders. Often data doesn't translate well to text and the way some of these statements and conclusions are worded is open to interpretation.

Statements like "the average game on Steam" are hard to parse and open to misinterpretation. I guess with average, he means median, i.e. the literal middle of the pack (I assume this because the numbers for the "average game" line up with the median numbers). This is confusing because the average is the mean. Anyway, contrast the information about the median game against the means, and you see that the distribution of sales and revenue is highly unequally distributed. So the top half of the games did a lot better than the bottom half. That's interesting in and of itself compared to year-over-year numbers.

One thing I didn't quite understand is how the median sells 1500 copies at $10 but somehow makes $16,000 in revenue. Typo? He does say that this is after all the cuts are taken out of the equation, but at that point I would expect that number to be much lower. At the very least there's that fat 30% cut that Valve takes, so how come it's that high? The 2018 numbers add up differently and would be closer to what I expect after taxes, distributor cut, etc. Then he says he's talking about "the average game on Steam [in 2018/2019]" but his sample is of one month, and then there's the bit about "in the first year on sale". I thought it was one month. Did he project that one month snapshot over the rest of the year? This slide is generally confusing to me.

When it comes to the part about game pricing. I don't really understand how that conclusion was reached. That relationship was not evident to me from the slides. Maybe there is more information on the purchase behavior and price relationship / (in)elasticity that the author has and is coloring this conclusion. So instead I'm guessing at how this conclusion was reached. I guess the implication is that because the median of copies sold in higher pricing brackets is as high or higher than in lower pricing brackets, it follows that price does not have a negative relationship with copies sold. I personally find that somewhat of a tenuous suggestion, given that there are many other variables that are associated with higher priced games, while there is no information on whether these factors were somehow accounted for.

In the end, all I'm seeing is means and median. Price and copies sold is a tricky measure with the popularity of GAAS, F2P, MTX. Were these types of games included in the results? Why/why not? There are probably more interesting/valuable ways to look at the data. 170 games is also a bit hard to draw solid conclusions out of about the entire market at large. I would rather emphasize that this is how this specific sample fared in this specific month compared to last year. But, again, at some point he referred to performance in a year? So I'm not quite sure where that's from. IIRC the author did hedge some of his conclusions in the twitter posts about these slides. But I think it was to be expected that people will run with these numbers and draw an even more simplified picture.

As an aside, it would've been interesting to see a plot of review positivity/negativity against copies sold. See if that tells us anything. Is the bottom half of 2018/2019 June releases generally negatively or positively reviewed? How do the two years compare? How strong is the relationship between review positivity/negativity and copies sold? The author already checked the presence of reviews after all. Could've been a nice extra data point. I guess it's tricky because more sales give you more reviews and review positivity is just a ratio of positive and negative reviews. So games with few sales don't have many reviews to work with. A bigger sample size could help with that. Could also make a variable that's some kind of factor of reviews versus copies. I'm sure smart people have found a way to operationalize this.

My main takeaway is that I wanted some combination of more numbers, more unprocessed numbers, more variables, more discussion, more responsible/clearer reporting and visualizations. Even if this isn't a dissertation.
 
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Alexandros

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Nov 4, 2018
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I actually checked the number of releases (via SteamSpy, it should at least be reliable for tracking that right?) and it looks like July 2019 actually had less releases than July 2018. (679 in 2019 vs 744 in 2018).
Of course there are a myriad of external reasons that make this a bit shaky, like the Steam summer sale ended later in 2019 than in 2018 etc.
Thanks for doing the work!
 

Doctor Ironic

Junior Member
Mar 18, 2019
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the worst rap beef since Eminem vs MGK
Dude what the fuck. Billionaires’ brains are truly broken.

Shoutout to him mocking retail workers, by the way! Good ol’ Savior Sweeney looking out for the little guy!

Yeah, i'm not sure what Mike's agenda is here. He's supposed to be a numbers man yet it seems a little off to me and has done since his announcement just after Descenders launched. Is he trying to renegotiate with Valve or court the EGS Habidashers? I'm a little cynical at the moment regarding these things and it's always about money but i'd like to see a data-science person chime in on his methodology etc.
The other weird-ass thing is that he’s doing his analysis for July, the month RIGHT AFTER THE SUMMER SALE, and also the beginning of an incoming recession. Like yeah, no shit dork, people are going to wanna spend less when the man in charge of the economy declared bankruptcy three times.