Commercial success of different Eugen games

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varis
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Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby varis » Wed 21 Feb 2018 03:11

Motivation

On these forums one often sees players making wild claims along the lines from "Eugen should never have done AoA, it was a flop" to "Eugen needs to do an alternate history steampunk game with muskets, the Roman Empire and an alien invasion with tripods and laser beams, the market for that is huge!". In other words, we often end up in arguments where commercial success of previous Eugen games is relevant - the problem is that perception of "success" can be highly subjective. Players think that their favourite games or the ones they ended up playing the most were the most successful while anything uninteresting is seen as a sorry mistake on part of Eugen and a humiliating flop. At the same time we have publicly available Steam data which consists of more or less hard numbers.

Commercial Success Index

I built a model based on Steam statistics which evaluates the reception and success of the different games from Eugen starting with WarGame: European Escalation. This choice of games has nothing to do with me becoming familiar to Eugen's creations from EE beta, but rather I wanted to leave Act of War data out because the games originally were most probably marketed outside Steam and the data is not representative - likewise Ruse has recently been removed from Steam and the data was not easily available (I might add it later on).

The index in practice gives a score in range of 0 to 200, with 100 being the exact average level of commercial success within this set of games. Higher scores mean a more successful game while a lower one means that the game performed below average on the market. The index score is composed of several factors, each standardized to a range of approximately -100 to 100 and given a weight in determining the index score for a given game. Let's first have a look at my thinking about what kind of aspects I wanted to capture with the chosen factors.

How do I define it

The underlying goal of a company is to maximize shareholder value and this can be seen as having two parts: bringing in the cash today and building a foundation for the future business.

The cash part obviously means selling stuff to us players but when you dig a bit into it you see it's not completely straightforward. Games do have a lifespan and while you might expect to pay the full price just after the release, there are sales later on and many copies are sold at a discount - thus revenue is not just copies sold x quoted price of the game. Also there's a possibility of paid DLCs though in Eugen's case they are not common. Early success is more valuable for a game than success that comes later, is my thinking. This can actually be an interesting question, since some people rather think the money is in what is called the "long tail" and sales that continue over several years - certainly the business model has changed with the dominance of Steam and if you have comments/opinions on this I'll certainly read them.

The future prospects are much less tangible and involve human, social and other soft factors. Things like developer reputation, mindshare, critical reception, health of the multiplayer community and the existing playerbase enable a studio to successfully launch future titles. They are built by doing things right and/or by hard work over several years.

Next - the list of factors and their weights in the CSI.

Peak players - timing information - release to long term

Peak players at release - 15%
Peak players at 6 months - 10%
Peak players at 12 months - 5%
Peak players at 36 months - 5%

Looks like peak player counts are the only statistic where we get timing information, ie. how well the game did at launch vs long term. I see the player count at release as an indicator of successful marketing prior the release and a reading on general interest in the game. It also serves as a proxy for early sales of the game so it's given a high weight in the index. The reading at 6 months indicates whether the game survived the release and developed an active multiplayer community. The longer periods tell us about the general quality of the game and the level of support it received - however at 12 months, the most expensive copies have already been sold and the other factors discussed below also measure long term success, so these figures are given a lower weight.

The aftertaste - mindshare, copies sold, legacy

Number of reviews on Steam - 5%
Metascore - 10%
Average playtime for each player - 10%
Median playtime - 5%
Owners of the game - 35%

Median playtime tells us something about how serious the average player was about the game, while the number of Steam reviews and average playtime (where players with higher scores dominate) tell us more about how deeply the more interested players engaged with the game. (Eg. the players who loved the game or the ones who had high expectations but were disappointed both felt that it's important to tell about the game in a Steam review.) These factors are an indicator about the buzz around a game and whether it actually saw much use or was just generally lying around in the players' Steam library. Metascore is our measure of the critical reception and whether the game was seen as a high quality product.

Owners of the game measures copies sold and this is where the money is, thus it obviously has a high weight in the index. Another way of putting it would be that the CSI should be seen as a more sophisticated alternative to just looking at the Owners count when trying to quickly assess the success of a particular game.

The result

Below is the release date, factor input data for each game (first row) and the corresponding index modifier (second row), as well as the CSI result in two versions (marked with green) - for the alternate CSI Nobias, an explanation will be in the next message. Also there are the factor weights and some statistics given below the table. Yellow cells indicate that the data is missing - this is because of the young age of the particular game (releases within the last 3 years) and I've set the index modifier to 0 in this case so there is no additional effect to the score.

games-csi1.png
games-csi1.png (61.79 KiB) Viewed 1799 times


The highest score is Wargame: Red Dragon with CSI = 146.15 and lowest is Act of Aggression with CSI = 51.41.
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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby varis » Wed 21 Feb 2018 03:13

CSI Nobias index

The CSI is a bit problematic for the newer games so I provide an alternative index which tries to avoid bias from missing data or statistics that are more favourable for well established games. The alternative factor weights are:

Peak players at release - 35%
Peak players at 6 months - 20%
Peak players at 12 months - 0%
Peak players at 36 months - 0%
Number of reviews on Steam - 5%
Metascore - 20%
Average playtime for each player - 5%
Median playtime - 5%
Owners of the game - 10%

Steel Division performs better in the CSI Nobias index - as expected - with a score of 113.44. What is a bit surprising is that the AoA nosedive after release is even more pronounced in the Nobias index, and Wargame: EE also doesn't quite live up to its reputation.

Robustness of the results



Data sources

Peak player counts are from steamcharts.com. Review amount is from steampowered.com. steamspy.com was useful especially for owners data. steamdb.info was mostly used for playtime and double checking the data.

The calculation

As you might see, I calculated averages and standard deviations for each statistic. The scores are based on the standard deviation - for each factor, a difference of one standard deviation from the average is worth 50 points. This allows me to compare wildly different statistics - for example in the metascore there is not much difference and all Eugen games land into a narrow fan, while for the long term player peak counts have almost as much standard deviation as is the average of the factor.

Standard deviation is a statistical measure which indicates how dispersed your set of values is from their average. Our sample set is only 5 different games which is very small in terms of statistics, so a good academic discussion could be whether using the standard deviation (and assuming somewhat normal distribution) makes much sense.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_deviation

The factor score is calculated as ( ( factor value - factor average ) / standard deviation ) x 50

And the index is calculated as [ weighted average of factor scores ] + 100
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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby molnibalage » Wed 21 Feb 2018 14:57

varis wrote:Reserved for further discussion and notes on the methodology

I have doubst about the whole process. ALB after 4 years of release had larger playerbase than StDV after some months of release while in your list they are on the same level. The succsess of ALB was the direct reason why was so succesful the RD...

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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby Mike » Wed 21 Feb 2018 17:57

molnibalage wrote:
varis wrote:Reserved for further discussion and notes on the methodology

I have doubst about the whole process. ALB after 4 years of release had larger playerbase than StDV after some months of release while in your list they are on the same level. The succsess of ALB was the direct reason why was so succesful the RD...


Or because RD is a great game in many people's opinion, which we all know you don't share.
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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby USIron » Wed 21 Feb 2018 18:23

Thank you so much for the stats. Much appreciated. I was thinking of asking for some hard numbers, because until today I was going off gut feeling and steam reviews. The numbers say it all. ES has made a major error in ignoring/snubbing their current "modern" war gaming fan base by not continueing the Wargame Series, which is quite clearly what most of us want. A 2000-2018 update of Wargame with more nations added. Good luck with your WW2 fans. I will buy another product when they start making the good ones again. Until then adios and thanks for all the memories.

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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby Razzmann » Wed 21 Feb 2018 18:24

An interesting comment regarding Eugen's "finances" on r/wargame: https://www.reddit.com/r/wargame/commen ... d/dujyy94/

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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby Pr.shadocko » Wed 21 Feb 2018 19:43

So if i understand the number correctly:

- SD and W:EE have basically the same path as a brand launcher, which feel as an half-sucess/ half-failure as Eugen got a lot more promotion and a bigger brand name for SD
- W:AB and W:RD follow the trend of a successful brand, nothing unexpected here
- AoA is a mess

It is not as clearcut as it seems.

Thx for the work Varis!
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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby varis » Wed 21 Feb 2018 19:53

molnibalage wrote:
varis wrote:Reserved for further discussion and notes on the methodology

I have doubst about the whole process. ALB after 4 years of release had larger playerbase than StDV after some months of release while in your list they are on the same level. The succsess of ALB was the direct reason why was so succesful the RD...


Oh you are right that there are LOTS of room for discussion regarding the peak player statistics - but even this is a lot better than "my favourite game is the most successful!". Regarding your actual point, it is a bit hard to judge SD as it's still a new game and the data is not yet available. Also we don't know what Eugen & Paradox might have in store for it in the future.

One thing in particular is that updates tend to have a big effect on peak player count which can be seen in some cases in my stats. I take the peak for the given one month eg. the 6 months stat for ALB is November 2013 and I also checked there was nothing really really major during the months I used for stats (we got a bit lucky). Still an update can easily double the peak counts for an old release.

There has been lots happening with the peak player counts. I recall EE being down to 300 daily just 3 months into the release, due to the Heavy Tank Meta. It recovered and the rest is history ;)

Pr.shadocko wrote:So if i understand the number correctly:

- SD and W:EE have basically the same path as a brand launcher, which feel as an half-sucess/ half-failure as Eugen got a lot more promotion and a bigger brand name for SD
- W:AB and W:RD follow the trend of a successful brand, nothing unexpected here
- AoA is a mess

It is not as clearcut as it seems.


That's almost exactly what I was planning to write as a summary analysis - I guess that's not quite as necessary now :D Actually SD is doing surprisingly well in some respects, such as # of Steam reviews, and the CSI Nobias score. Potentially it could be on par with EE or even ALB. Playtime is very high for this game but it might be mostly due to it being a new release and the players have paid full buck for it (then again average playtime tends to be high for old releases - see the figure for RD). An optimist might even say that Eugen is now back on track with the release of SD.

Indeed "success" is not just one straightforward figure - there are multiple aspects to it and what is the most important might also depend on the given situation of a game studio, ie. trying to expand/launch a new franchise, need to impress a new publisher, just getting the cash to pay bills that are due...
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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby chykka » Wed 21 Feb 2018 20:00

you have to remember there were discounts if you owned previous wargames when buying Alb and RD at launch. Not to mention the peak launch will increase as player base grows. However with that discount you are providing incentive old players to return. While both SD and AoA did not have this so full price was payed at launch.
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Re: Commercial success of different Eugen games

Postby Fade2Gray » Wed 21 Feb 2018 20:07

Razzmann wrote:An interesting comment regarding Eugen's "finances" on r/wargame: https://www.reddit.com/r/wargame/commen ... d/dujyy94/

Are interns being "almost not paid" a regular thing in the gaming industry?
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