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The Steam Winter Sale

This post will be focused on the Steam Winter Sale and how Labyrinthine Dreams profited (or didn’t).

This year, Steam did something a little different. Instead of having Daily Deals and Flash Sales, Steam had a flat sale the entire 2-week Winter Sale period. The hypothesis was that this new format would serve customers that might not want to check in on Steam every day of the sale. I’m sure the Steam Refund policy that was introduced back in June was partially the reason for this change. If a user buys a game at 50% off and then sees it’s 66% off during a Flash Sale, they’ll refund the game and repurchase it. Considering the high volume of users buying games during this period, it could escalate quickly into a customer service nightmare.

Steam also introduced an incentive for users to browser their Discovery Queue during the sale. The Discovery Queue recommends titles to users based on their past purchases, similar to how the Netflix recommendations work. It’s a good way to expose titles that might not appear on the front page; games like Labyrinthine Dreams. The incentive was an exclusive Steam Trading Card that dropped for users that browsed their queue, up to 3x per day. The queue has 12 games at a time and refills every day, but could also be refilled manually. This means users could view 36 games to unlock the cards, which resulted in 3x as many product page views as in past sales events.

You might think that many users just quickly clicked through their queue to collect cards, but data shows that many were actually paying attention. There was a 200% increase in the rate of wishlist additions during the sale period, and many users subsequently purchased the games. There was also a huge traffic and revenue bump for games outside the Top 500 best sellers.

All this data is nice, but did it actually affect us? Let’s look at some charts.


Before the sale, LD was selling 1-3 copies per day. Once the sale began (Dec 22), sales skyrocketed to 252 copies. We continued to sell 100s of copies during the sale. You can also see there’s been a nice tail effect post sale.

Let’s now compare the last 3 months which includes the Autumn/Black Friday sale.


As you can see, there was a much larger peak when the sale started (Nov 25). In terms of units, both sales did about equal amounts of sales, even though the  Winter sale was twice as long.

Last year, the game barely moved at all so it’s not worth comparing 2014 to 2015 sales. This year, I added Trading Cards and Achievements, some quality fixes, and dropped the price of the game from $4.99 to $1.99. This caused a huge influx in sales, and lots of positive reviews, so even though it costs more, the larger volume means we make much more revenue.

Steam charts show a huge bump in terms of traffic and wishlisting between Autumn and Winter, but we didn’t see much of a difference. We still did well in terms of sales during the Winter sale (2,910 units), so I can’t really complain.

I mostly did this post for my own benefit, but if readers find this sort of stuff interesting, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to write more about the nature of being an indie dev (and producer) on Steam.

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