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Indie games make up 40% of all units sold on Steam

Distribution of Steam Games Based on Publisher Type

Indie games account for over 95% of all games on Steam, but only about 40% of sales.

Indie games are also cheaper, leading to only 28% of sales revenue coming from indies.

Interestingly, this matches pretty accurately with active player split of indie VS large developer games.

Distribution of Steam Games based on Publisher Type

Indie game releases on Steam

It’s not big news that majority of Steam games are created by independent developers. Overall, there are now over 60,000 games on Steam. Only c. 2,000 of these have been made by large studios with hundreds of employees and large marketing budgets.

96% of Steam games are indie games. 26,000 of these games have never sold over 300 units. These games are sometimes called shovelware. They can be quick projects aimed to indice some people to pay for little to no content. More often then not though, they are small hobby projects, or ‘learn to make a game’ type projects. This is not bad – let’s not hate the long tail of small games. However, they are not proper games to be played by a larger audience, so they’re not super relevant.

Leaving out the small projects, there are still tens of thousands of legitemate indie games on Steam. 53% of all games on Steam are indies with over 300 units sold each.

Indie game sales and revenues

Even though indie games only account for c. 40% of the units sold on Steam, this was actually surprisingly high for me. It means that the small-budget game developers can give large studios a run for their money.

Of course, the units sold for indie games is really skewed. Games like Among Us and Valheim drive the whole industry metrics forward while a long tail of small developers can only dream of a fraction of that level of success.

Still, 40% of sales going to non-AAA companies shows that indie landscape is an important and critical part of the game development space on PC.

Active players on Steam

Perhaps the most surprising bit of data for me was the active daily player mix. It matches the revenue mix almost perfectly – c. 70% of revenues and active players go to large developers.

As with units sold, the active player mix is driven by some outlier indie games. However, this does show that a considerable proportion of Steam players are going beyond the classic mega-budget AAA games. A good game with the right discoverability can and will capture a meaningful player base.

Summary

There are a couple of key takeaways from this small bit of analysis

  • Vast majority of Steam games are indie games (96%), but not all of them are shovelware. There are tens of thousands of well crafted indie games on Steam.
  • Indie segment of the PC game development market is large – 40% of units sold and almost 30% of revenue.
  • Even though indies sell 40% of the games on Steam, they only have 30% of the active user base. Large studios still entice people to play for longer (no wonder, given the large open world RPGs and popular MMOs where people spend 100s if not 1,000s of hours)

Data & methodology

This above data was put together using our own VG Insights platform analytics tools. It covers over 60,000 games. The data comes straight from Steam APIs. To understand more about how we classify indie VS AA VS AAA, please read our ‘about the data‘ page.

If you enjoyed this small data dump, explore our Steam game data and stats platform or find out stats on individual game on the Games Database – a lot of it is free for everyone!