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Infographic: Indie game revenues on Steam

We’ve put together an infographic highlighting indie game revenues on Steam in 2020.

Video Game Insights - Indie game revenues on Steam, including genre lifetime earnings and genre splits.
How much money do indie games make on Steam?

Get more information on Steam trends and game revenues on our free Steam Analytics page or explore any individual game or publisher data.

PC games sales can reach hundreds of millions for AAA studios, but we wanted to know what it’s like for small developers. Is there money in game development? How much money do indie games make? What is the earning potential for top Steam games in the self-published indie category? We looked into video game revenues and turned the findings into an infographic.

Indie games industry in numbers

Steam game revenue estimates

  • Over 50% of indie games never make more than $4,000. These games never generate enough revenue to cover the development time and other costs. Learn more
  • An average indie game makes $3,947 (this is actually median, average is not a good measure as it’s significantly distorted by top earners).
  • Over 2/3 of the games don’t cross $10,000 in life time earnings.
  • However, the top 1/3 of the indie games are doing pretty well. Almost every 1 in 5 indie games makes more than $50,000. Still, this might not mean the game is profitable or a good investment. If the development team was any bigger than one person and took over a year to make, chances are these people would have been better off as full time developers for a big studio.
  • Top 9% cross the $200k line. Most of these games are probably profitable and a proof that indie games can survive.
  • The top 1% of indie games make over $7,000,000!

Indie game earnings by genre

  • Almost half of the MMO games are free to play. They might get a lot of downloads, but won’t appear as generating revenue in our analysis as we don’t capture in app purchases.
  • Casual games are the worst genre in terms of revenue expectations.
  • RPG, strategy and simulation games are the highest earning genres for indie games. Learn more
  • The story is different by sub-genre. Our Steam Analytics platform allows you to explore nearly 50 sub-genres from Battle Royale to Platformers. Some sub-genres are much more profitable for indies than others. For example, grand strategy, 4x and other resource management games have historically done very well.
    This is a great indication for indie developers on which games to make next as it broadly indicates where the player demand is.

It’s true that most indie games never make much money, but it’s also surprising how many do. There are some clear patterns when looking at the successful indie games.

We observe some of these success drivers in our articles the power of games marketing and how to price a game right.

If you found this insightful, you might want to check out more games industry trends on our free Steam Analytics platform or explore data on any individual game or publisher!