Consumers love it to pieces: Valve’s periodical sales. But what about the people actually selling the games? Control Magazine spoke with Abbey Games, the biggest surprise of the Summer Sale 2013.
A card up their sleeves
Valve’s recently introduced trading card system was incorporated into the Summer Sale, allowing players to craft a Summer Sale badge after they had unlocked sale-specific cards for discounted games, including Reus.
The trading cards are a metagame to keep players more engaged with the products available on Steam, although they are entirely optional. The cards can be traded or sold to other users, or exchanged to unlock player-profile extras like game-themed emoticons, background images or additional discounts. For Abbey Games, the trading card system required about 80 hours of work creating additional assets.
“Don’t get me wrong, this years’ Steam Summer Sale blew our minds”, recalls 25-year old creative lead Adriaan Jansen of Abbey Games. Reus, the debut title of this young Dutch indie studio sold pretty well after its release on Steam a couple of months ago, but by July the long tail had set in as sales dropped to about 300 per day.
Enter the Steam Summer Getaway Sale, which prominently featured Reus at half price. Within days, the 2D god game had sold over 120,000 units, more than all sales up until that point combined. The title’s total revenue before the Summer Sale hovered around 800,000 euros, the sale instantly added another 400,000. Not bad for a young studio of four university graduates with zero experience in running a business.
“Reus was one of ten daily featured games at the top of the storefront”, says Jansen. “We were featured in the same spot as Tomb Raider, Skyrim and BioShock Infinite, how cool is that? It’s safe to say 98 percent of our extra sales can be ascribed to that feature alone.”
Although Abbey Games didn’t turn its nose up at the extra cash involved, the team claims their decision to partake in the sale rather was motivated by long term opportunities. “The chance to connect with more players who notice and appreciate our work is most important”, says Adriaan Jansen. “Next time we release a game, people who bought Reus at a discount might remember they liked it and buy at full price.”