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Valve against sharing Steam sales data

As the NPD Group and the British-based UKIE work to develop comprehensive digital sales tracking, Valve executive Jason Holtman has expressed disinterest in giving out his company's data.

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The NPD Group is planning to report monthly digital sales data, but first they'll have to find a way to coax online distribution giant Valve into releasing the data at all. MCV reports that recent comments from Jason Holtman, Valve's director of business development, indicate the company isn't too keen on making its sales data public.

"The idea of a chart is old," said Holtman. "It came from people trying to aggregate disaggregated information. What we provide is much more rapid and perfected information." He called these aggregated charts "less useful in the digital space."

More so, Hotman claims the charts have painted a negative picture in the past. "If you look back at the way retail charts have been made, they have been proven to be telling an inaccurate story," he said. "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."

The comments were made in relation to efforts by the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) to create a comprehensive PC download chart, but they hit close to home for North American-based data companies too. After receiving sharp criticism from EA, stat tracking company The NPD Group revealed plans to report digital sales. Shortly after, NPD acquired a digital tracking firm as well. However helpful that firm may be, Steam is the largest of the digital distributors, so getting Valve on-board will be necessary for an accurate look at digital sales.

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  • reply
    April 21, 2011 2:30 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Valve against sharing Steam sales data.

    As the NPD Group and the British-based UKIE work to develop comprehensive digital sales tracking, Valve executive Jason Holtman has expressed disinterest in giving out his company's data.

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      April 21, 2011 2:31 PM

      that's a shame. i haven't bought a PC game off of steam in years (excl. Portal 2--PS3 ver. from Amazon)

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        April 21, 2011 2:37 PM

        Why is that? So many incredible deals on there, especially during holidays.

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          April 21, 2011 2:44 PM

          LOS REBELDES

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          April 21, 2011 3:16 PM

          i meant not on steam. bad choice of words

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            April 21, 2011 3:17 PM

            sort of like, off of being not on

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              April 21, 2011 3:20 PM

              like "Off-Broadway" for musicals that aren't on Broadway

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          April 22, 2011 6:49 AM

          That's the reason I don't buy from them anymore. Those bastards have made my backlog so huge that I refuse to buy anymore until I get through some more.

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      April 21, 2011 2:34 PM

      Uninterest.

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      April 21, 2011 2:39 PM

      Can't blame a private company for not wanting to share their numbers. Draws too much attention from the dirty buzzards/government.

      Never admit your profits unless you are required to.

      "We're doing fine, thanks." should be good enough.

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        April 22, 2011 8:05 AM

        But Valve needs to be a "good corporate citizen" by paying tons of taxes so govt can fund programs and keep increasing spending.

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      April 21, 2011 2:40 PM

      [deleted]

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        April 21, 2011 2:52 PM

        Their point is that this information is only relevant to the publishers who make the games. They feel there's no reason to share that information.

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        April 21, 2011 2:59 PM

        why do you even care? It's pointless as a consumer.

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          April 21, 2011 3:03 PM

          Unless you're one of those console wars fanboys, I guess.

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          April 21, 2011 3:10 PM

          Personally I like to keep track of how games are doing, whether I'm personally interested in them or not. I like to see where the market goes. If a game tanks, I like to know about it. If a game is doing incredible, I'd also like to know about that too - particularly if it's not getting much press.

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          April 21, 2011 3:15 PM

          [deleted]

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          April 21, 2011 4:07 PM

          People love useless info.

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            April 21, 2011 5:51 PM

            this. id mostly just like to be able to satisfy my idle curiousity...

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        April 21, 2011 6:00 PM

        They already said no xD

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      April 21, 2011 2:51 PM

      [deleted]

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      April 21, 2011 2:55 PM

      Didn't valve say in the past that they would give it out but no one ever asked for it?

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      April 21, 2011 2:57 PM

      Makes sense to me; its not like NPD is some charity that provides these numbers out of a sense of journalistic idealism or something. No reason for Valve to empower them.

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        April 21, 2011 3:31 PM

        Yeah, as Holtman mentions, Valve offers developers and publishers stat tracking as well, and gives them some things that NPD doesn't. Why would Valve give these stats to a competitor?

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      April 21, 2011 3:10 PM

      I will never buy another valve game again.. their stupid unlock PC version of Portal 2 with Ps3 was just stupid..since the PSN network went down anyway..

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        April 21, 2011 3:14 PM

        So it's their fault they provided a free copy of Portal for PC and PSN is down?

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        April 21, 2011 3:15 PM

        well that sucks, because Valve makes really good games.

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        April 21, 2011 3:16 PM

        ThomW, I really need an IronyLOL button.

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        April 21, 2011 3:17 PM

        Worked fine for me! Bad timing for you, sorry chap. Blame Sony ...or something... if you have to blame someone.

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        April 21, 2011 3:43 PM

        durp

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        April 21, 2011 3:45 PM

        Dang you Valve for failing to keep Sony's PSN network up!

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        April 21, 2011 4:34 PM

        DERPS

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        April 21, 2011 4:35 PM

        are you seriously raging about something free?

        >_> classy

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          April 21, 2011 4:39 PM

          esp when the fault is with a 3d party (psn)

          Its free and someone else screwed up .... dun rage on steam for doing something good which got screwed up by someone else

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        April 21, 2011 5:28 PM

        lol.

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        April 21, 2011 5:31 PM

        [deleted]

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          April 21, 2011 5:53 PM

          I renounce fish. I vow never to set foot in that ocean again. That's how much "fuck fish."

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          April 21, 2011 5:54 PM

          your loss, because fish are delightful. and delicious.

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          April 21, 2011 5:56 PM

          Damnit, I told Ian to stay out of there.

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          April 21, 2011 6:52 PM

          and there was the price of tea ...

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        April 21, 2011 5:55 PM

        what exactly are you complaining about here?

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        April 21, 2011 6:25 PM

        [deleted]

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        April 21, 2011 10:45 PM

        Perfect example of a front page poster

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        April 22, 2011 6:33 AM

        I don't get it. what in the fuck are you even complaining about?

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        April 22, 2011 6:36 AM

        God dammit I could give away $1,000 in $20 bills to every person on Earth and there'd still be some people complaining about how they weren't sequentially numbered.

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          April 22, 2011 6:51 AM

          Or wrinkles, or oddly stacked, or any number of other inane, stupid details that could possibly get some ones feathers ruffled.

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        April 22, 2011 6:58 AM

        Kill yourself.

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      April 21, 2011 3:29 PM

      The point missed by Valve is how valuable this data is to smaller companies, especially developers and publishers. Having this broad collection of sales data helps them to make decisions on new IP. I get where a large publisher like Valve, and even Steam the distribution arm, don't care to share this, but for the smaller people will hurt for this.

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        April 21, 2011 3:32 PM

        Was also going to add, it's not like these numbers were ever accurate anyways. Walmart hasn't given NPD their numbers ever. So, that's a pretty big grain of salt you have to take when looking at NPD reports.

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        April 21, 2011 4:38 PM

        not really. Not releasing is different from absolute secret. I'm sure they used the data to "woo" developers and publishers (esp the smaller ones) onto the steam platform.

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        April 21, 2011 4:39 PM

        if the smaller companies were serious about using steam, they would meet in private with valve and valve would give some guidance on what to expect.

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        April 21, 2011 5:07 PM

        It seems that new IPs made by small developers, ie indie games, have been successful especially on Steam, with whatever data is available to them right now. I'd rather have developers actually working on their own IPs instead of trying to make knock-offs based on sales data. Poor sales don't indicate much of anything, any number of factors could contribute to market failure.

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        April 21, 2011 5:58 PM

        This info is NDA with their clients so that they can leverage it as a selling point for prospective clients to come and take a look. Something like that.

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      April 21, 2011 3:29 PM

      Nothing is stopping publishers and developers from making their data from Steam available to public - if mostdoes it, we wont need data from Valve.

      I would like to see data directly from Valve, but that is unlikely to happen anytime soon (unless someone hack their server :) ).

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      April 21, 2011 3:33 PM

      NPD doesn't report Walmart numbers (if I'm not mistaken), which is the largest brick-and-mortar retailer, so I fail to see how not having Steam would bring their digital tracking numbers on par with the other numbers they provide. Seems to me they would already be on par. All this story proves is that NPD's brick-and-mortar sales numbers are as faulty as EA claimed their digital numbers were. I enjoyed the NPD numbers when they released them, but never as a clear picture of sales, more as just a fun way to talk about the dollars and cents of games in generalities. It's like calling all men assholes, or all women bitches. Sometimes it's just fun.

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      April 21, 2011 3:33 PM

      Disappointing.

      I'd love to know just how much console games generally outsell their PC counterparts. Is it like 5 to 1 or 2 to 1 or what?

      I'd also love specific sales numbers on a game like Portal 2. Do the console versions of even Valve's games outsell the PC?



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        April 21, 2011 3:41 PM

        I think for most multiplatform games, the PC typically accounts for 15-20% of sales, while the Xbox holds around 45-50% and the PS3 30-35%.

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        April 21, 2011 3:48 PM

        I think it's more 3:5.

        Of course, the word console means over 70% of the market. Compared to each console alone however, I think they hold well.

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      April 21, 2011 3:59 PM

      I'm not sure why we should expect them to give out valuable data for the hell of it....

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      April 21, 2011 6:29 PM

      He just wants them to pay Valve more than they've offered so far.

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      April 21, 2011 6:47 PM

      I can see a couple of valid reasons for Valve to not share that data.

      First, sales tracking make a lot of sense for retail stores (where space is at a premium), but not as much sense in a digital marketplace. Sales tracking lets you respond to sleepers and long tail titles by adjusting stocking and repurchase levels, but when all your inventory is virtual and it costs nothing to stock your titles, it's irrelevant.

      Second, public sales tracking would hurt indie developers. There's nothing in the Steam publisher agreement stopping you from tooting your own horn about your sales, but if Valve comes out and touts they they've sold 4,000,000 of product X and your indie title has only sold 10,000, there are a lot of people out there who won't buy it because of the perceived quality difference just based on that one data point.

      Third, why would they want to give away the crown jewel of their data? They know what times people buy things, what kinds of things can prompt people to buy things...any of that information getting out, even in the abstract, could help their competitors.

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        April 22, 2011 12:00 AM

        I agree with this guy. Not just because he has a suit but because he knows about business and stuff and he has a tie!

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      April 22, 2011 12:44 AM

      I think Valve is selling it on the side. They could pay for a pretty kick-ass party from people buying Steam stats.

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      April 22, 2011 1:55 AM

      Looks like they're... sunglasses ... keeping it under their hats.

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      April 22, 2011 6:33 AM

      I actually agree with them. I'm not sure why sales numbers need to be spewed everywhere. I think it only matters what your company specifically is doing, not what everybody else is doing. Only greed has you looking around at everyone else, trying to see if they're fleecing everyone for more and how much more can you fleece people for accordingly?

      Stick it to the man, Valve.

      Besides, I think sales numbers on a monthly basis, a six month basis, I think these kinds of numbers are going to become irrelevant as we move into episodic content. As in, instead of buying a RE game for $60, you buy part 1 for $20, part 2 for $20, and part 3 for $20. Each part having three levels. Or you buy the whole set for $59.99. Saving one penny. You can get the game as a set in the stores.

      That way, all those games where you don't finish it, you spent less money, enabling more money to be spread to more developers. Publishers get to save their model by making MP-centric games (like Call of Duty) require the whole set to play (if they like). Others might sell the MP separately and distinctly from the SP, allowing some to give you $20 MP along with $40 in bits and pieces.

      In a world where bits and pieces of games are being sold, sales numbers on game titles themselves becomes irrelevant, especially on a monthly or semi-annual basis.

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