Baldur’s Gate 3 alone captured 21% of Steam’s revenues in 2023

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Steam shattered records in 2023, but is the PC gaming platform becoming increasingly dominated by a select few blockbuster titles?

According to new data from Video Game Insights, Steam’s revenues are concentrated around breakout hits while smaller games struggle to cut through the noise.

Just How Much Are Top Games Earning on Steam?

In 2023, Steam raked in a whopping $9 billion in full-game revenues.

This represents a huge 18% growth over 2022 and a doubling of revenues since 2019.

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However, over 60% of these revenues came from just the top 10 new game releases last year.

Baldur’s Gate 3 alone generated an estimated $657 million, capturing 21% of all revenues from 2023’s new releases.

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When looking at the top 100 new games, they accounted for 91% of full-game revenue.

Clearly, a few big winners are taking home the lion’s share of Steam earnings.

Why Is Steam Revenue Concentrating Among Top Titles?

There are a few key factors likely driving the “winner take all” dynamic on Steam:

  • More Game Releases Than Ever – Nearly 14,000 games launched on Steam in 2023, up 13% from the year before. But only 181 were AAA titles. More competition makes it harder for smaller games to stand out.
  • Algorithms Favor Top Games – Steam’s algorithmic recommendations tend to reinforce popularity. Top sellers get more visibility, driving more sales.
  • Rising Marketing Costs – Cutting through the noise requires big marketing budgets. Indie developers often can’t compete with large publishers in advertising spend.
  • Blockbuster Power – Major franchises and sequels already have an established fanbase. This gives them an advantage out of the gate over unknown indies.

What Does This Mean for Smaller Developers?

The data paints a challenging picture for indie and mid-tier game creators.

Just 700 games (5% of 2023’s releases) earned over $100k last year.

And only 157 titles exceeded $10 million in revenues.

For small teams, getting noticed on Steam is becoming extremely difficult.

This revenue concentration also means Steam’s overall growth relies heavily on blockbuster performance.

A weaker AAA release slate in the future could dampen the platform’s overall revenues.

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What’s the Future of Steam?

Video Game Insights predicts a small 2.5% revenue dip in 2024 due to fewer big releases.

But they forecast Steam revenues bouncing back up to $11.5 billion by 2028, driven by continued PC gaming growth globally.

For indie developers hoping to make it big on Steam, the best strategies may be building wishlists and ratings over time, participating in seasonal sales events, and collaborating with influencers or publishers for marketing leverage.

Standing out from the crowd is harder than ever, but not impossible with the right approach.

Overall, while Steam is seeing runaway success among its top games, smaller studios may need to look beyond the platform to find their audience.

But Steam remains a dominant force in PC gaming that savvy developers should have in their plans, even as competition heats up.

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The key is figuring out how to cut through the noise as a small fish in Steam’s increasingly big pond.

You can read the full reports on Video Game Insights for free.

Image Credits – Video Game Insights


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