Valve hasn’t stopped accidentally exposing information. Thankfully, the data it unintentionally shared this time doesn’t belong to its customers.
Earlier today, Valve accidentally posted some followup data (although no specific dollar amounts) about its Steam winter sale to its page for SteamVR. The company has since removed that post since it was seemingly meant only for its partners — but SteamDB website founder xPaw saved all of the relevant info. The post reveals why the most recent sale didn’t have any of those limited time-only “flash” sales and how that benefited everyone selling games on Steam. Even smaller developers came off better despite Steam having to shut down for a few hours on Christmas day as the result of a cyberattack.
In the past, Valve would punctuate each day of its big, quarterly sales with flash discounts that would only last for less than a day and would cut the price of a game by a huge margin. This time around, however, Valve wanted to offer discounts on games that would last throughout the entirety of the sale.
“Our hypothesis was that this new format would be a better way to serve customers that may only be able to visit Steam once or twice during the 13-day event,” reads the Steam post. “We also saw this change as an opportunity to showcase a deeper variety of titles to customers each day, while having confidence that any game being highlighted would be at its lowest discount.”
That last part seems like a crucial argument for getting rid of the flash sales. Gamers in the past, even when they saw a desirable game at 20 percent to 30 percent off, may have hesitated with the hope that a bigger discount would come along. But by keeping the same price cut throughout the event, gamers never felt like they were going to burn themselves by pulling the trigger.
Valve claims that mindset change encouraged gamers to look through their Discovery Queue (a roster of games personalized for each customer) for exciting products. The company shared a chart that shows that this — along with a Steam Trading Card promotion — led to three times the number of product page views than during any previous Steam sale.
That also led to more people using the Wishlist option on games they found through the Discovery Queue.
But, of course, these sales are about generating money for developers as well as Valve — and the company claims it did exactly that.
“In terms of revenue, the discount strategy and Discovery Queue usage resulted in a resounding success,” reads the Steam post.
Valve noted that, of course, big-name games sold well. But it says that its changes had an even bigger impact on products that are smaller or less well known.
“We looked at performance of the group of games outside of the Top 500 in revenue terms,” the post continues. “This group collected 35 percent of product page traffic during the sale, which is over 4-times their share of traffic from the previous winter sale. And these weren’t just idle views — we also saw 45 percent growth in the revenue generated by this group of games as compared with the last winter sale.”
These results suggest that Valve has found a better way of discounting games, and we should probably all say goodbye to flash sales.