Steam Spy has emerged onto the Internet this year and has become a go-to resource in many ways for information on the online games retailer. Beyond having excellent set up data, the owner, Sergey Galyonkin, does some excellent posts and teases out a lot of interesting information as well as some very good analysis. While the year isn't over, and the Steam winter sale has just begun, Sergey posted the preliminary numbers on the 2015 Sale's figures.
There are a few caveats here before we post the numbers; first of all these are from basically April to December 20th. Steamspy wasn't off the ground until then so January to March is pretty rough at best. Second of all by their nature Steamspy's numbers are estimates and not 100% accurate—that's why on the game pages you'll see a symbol showing the margin of error. Third is that free weekends mess with the numbers of Steamspy so some games might be a bit artificially inflated, such as Ark: Survival Evolved as that had a free weekend earlier this year. While there is a lot more you can see in Sergey's post, we're going to focus on the worldwide total sales chart here ...
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive really took off this year with over 5.6 million sales in the period—enough that I asked Sergey about how much it likely sold in the January to April period, to see if it actually had managed to out do Grand Theft Auto V and Fallout 4 combined.
With that we can see it is likely it cleared more like 6.5 million sales, meaning that 2015 was indeed dominated in Steam sales by Valve's shooter. Making this more amazing in many ways is that Counter Strike: Global Offensive has been out for 3 years, that it doesn't go in bundles or over 50% off, and that this is not counting microtransactions—just activations on Valve's store. Even on the low end, assuming they were all sold at 50% off and there weren't any other sales than 6.5 million, you're looking at nearly $49 million, and more likely Counter Strike: Global Offensive easily cleared 50 million in direct sales revenue in addition to what it was able to make in microtransactions.
Nor was Counter Strike: Global Offensive Valve's only top 10 selling title as Left 4 Dead 2 managed to rake up a more modest but still very impressive 1.6million copies for Valve. Obviously neither of these titles include the amount of money that Dota 2 or Team Fortress 2 bring via microtransactions but given their placement on the list while acclaimed single player games like the Portal and Half-life series show that Valve is likely to continue more focus on multiplayer titles. It also shows what an esports scene can mean for a game as that may be in large part responsible for Counter Strike: Global Offensive's sudden surge in sales.
Another big story we can see here is that previous games on big budget releases are doing very well before their anticipated successor launches. While often heavily discounted, we can see games like Fallout: New Vegas clearing a million in sales, and various other ones are on there. Skyrim (not a direct prequel to Fallout 4 but close enough), racked in 1.5m in sales, while the Witcher 1 and 2 brought in 743k and 941k respectively. For these titles it is also important to note that it does not include any GOG sales, nor console ones.
There's a lot more that can be looked at here—things like Early Access taking such a prominent spot with Ark: Survival Evolved, H1Z1, and Rust, or that 14 of the titles on the list didn't launch this year. The latter is interesting as it shows the long tail of the PC platform and that's not counting titles like Age of Empires II: HD Edition but instead just the ones mentioned above and things like Borderlands 2, Garry's Mod, Terraria, Civilization V, Fallout 3, Bioshock: Infinite, Euro Truck Simulator 2, Rust, and Elite: Dangerous.
What is your take away from these numbers? Are you surprised that Counter Strike: Global Offensive managed to out sell the next two games on the list? What title were you expecting to see but didn't? What title surprised you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!