If you kept your eye on TSA yesterday, you might’ve seen the story we did on the original Portal and the success it’s had in the retail market. While the number of copies sold was pretty impressive, we weren’t sure what the exact number was because Valve wouldn’t release how many units Portal sold on Steam. Turns out, it’s not just Portal Valve is keeping quiet about.
In an interview with MCV, Steam shot-caller Jason Holtman stated that they have zero interest in releasing their digital sales results to any outlet or publication other than the creator of the game in question.
“The idea of a chart is old. It came from people trying to aggregate disaggregated information. What we provide to partners is much more rapid and perfected information. If you look back at the way retail charts have been made, they have been proven to be telling an inaccurate story. They apparently had shown how the PC format was dying when it was actually thriving.
The point is, it’s not super important for a publisher or developer to know how well everyone is doing. What’s important to know is exactly how your game is doing – why it’s climbing and why it’s falling. Your daily sales, your daily swing, your rewards for online campaign number three. That’s what we provide.”
I’m certainly not about to claim to be nearly as educated on this topic as I’m sure Mr. Holtman is, but I have to disagree with what he’s saying – especially the bit about it not being important for other developers and publishers to know how other products are doing. Without those numbers, would we even have some of the games that we’ve got today? How are developers and publishers supposed to know what to invest their money and time in to, if they don’t know what is popular?
Would we have Castlevania: Lords of Shadow if not for the well known success of God of War? Would there even be a Call of Duty franchise if not for the smashing results Medal of Honor achieved back in the day? I’m sure you can think of better examples but hopefully you get my point. Outside of critic’s reviews, I would say that sales are the best way to measure the success of a particular game or even an entire genre; and I’m sure a lot of publishers would argue that sales are a better way to calculate success than reviews.
Sales have been a hot topic in the gaming industry for quite some time now, but the discussion has never really taken this direction before. What do you think about Valve’s stance on sales?