It’s Not Even Funny How Badly Reported PC Game Sales Are

Lately we are seeing the resurgence of PC gaming. Microsoft has finally admitted that it ignored the PC platform for too long. Every game publisher is pushing out more and more games on the PC. The question is, why? Last month, a gaming website reported that PC games sell more than games on Xbox One. To be honest, it sounds a bit made up. And it sounds made up because we don’t have numbers. For consoles, there are numbers thrown around everywhere. For PC’s, everybody is hush on how much they actually sold.

Gabe Newell
Such sales, much steam. Wow.

Steam is supposed to be the holy grail of PC gaming. These days, the number of active users on Steam peaks at around 9 million. 9 MILLION! And they say Steam makes 1 billion dollars a year. So where are the numbers? Well, they don’t release any. But there are sources. SteamSpy monitors traffic on Steam, to tell us how well a particular game is selling. Their data (while it may be off) is never far from the truth. And just going through their top 100 list of games sold on Steam shows some shocking numbers. I made a list of the top games that sold very well on PC, and whose numbers were never ever reported.

  • Far Cry 3 – 2.6 million copies
  • Tomb Raider (2013) – 3.2 million copies
  • The Witcher 2 : Assassins of kings – 3.4 million copies
  • Dark Souls : Prepare to Die edition – 2 million copies
  • Dishonored : 2.2 million copies
  • GTA 4 – 3.7 million copies
  • GTA 5 – 2.6 million copies (in 2 months. This one will hit 5 million)
  • XCOM : Enemy Unknown – 2.8 million copies
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum (GOTY edition) – 2.2 million copies
  • Batman : Arkham City – 2.6 million copies
  • Bioshock: Infinite – 3.7 million copies
  • Bioshock – 2.9 million copies
  • Mirrors Edge – 2.5 million copies
  • Borderlands 2 : 5.1 million copies
  • Fallout New Vegas : 3.8 million copies
  • The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim – 9.3 million copies (Sold very well on PC)
  • Left for Dead 2 : 13 million copies (Yes, millions of copies just on Steam)

One interesting thing to note is that, Skyrim has sold almost 4 million physical copies in addition to almost 9.5 million copies just on Steam. If you go to VGChartz and see their numbers, you’ll get an impression that PC gaming is dead. It’s like an underworld Mafia -looking poor from the outside, but running a very healthy business without anyone ever knowing. This is one thing gamers and game developers deserve to know.

I can’t imagine what the poor numbers will look like to a startup that is contemplating making a PC game. Having an accurate idea about what’s what is the only thing that can give these ambitious developers the confidence they need.

  • tommy walsh

    vr is getting me into pc!

    • SaberEdge

      Yeah, the PC will be the place to be for serious VR. The consoles will be able to have some neat VR experiences, but PC is where the gloves come off and much of the innovation and higher end VR experiences will be.

      • Fred hgggg

        sorta like gaming and everything else

  • BinaryMind

    Very nice. Though it would be nice if we knew the average price these were bought at. Left 4 Dead 2 selling 13 million doesn’t mean a whole lot if most people bought it for a dollar. As much as I want to believe, I doubt Mirror’s Edge sold 2.5 million at full or even half price.

    • AndrewLB

      And how many millions of console players bought their game second hand from the local Gamestop? Sucks the developer didn’t get one single cent from those sales.

      And FYI, most of the time when products go on sale, it’s the retailer whose profit margin is effected. When there is a permanent price reduction on an item, that’s when everyone else in the supply chain gets a lower cut on the profits.

      I’m not sure what the mark-up is on digital game sales, but for retail products it tends to be around 100%. So for a $60 retail game, the store’s wholesale cost was $30. I’d imagine digital distribution of games would allow much more money to go directly to the developer and publisher since they essentially have removed the disc manufacturers, package printers, distribution warehouses, fuel costs, and everything else from the equation. So yea, even at 1/4 the price for a digital download, I bet the game developer makes as much as they would off a full retail physical game at $60.

      • BoyBigEyes

        GTA 5 – 11.21 million units in its first 24 hours just in PS3 and XB360.
        GTA 5 – 2.6 million copies (in 2 months. This one will hit 5 million) in PC.

        • Ricky Khehra

          2.6 million only steam sales not counting physical copies and rockstar club while rockstar has already said 54 million copies have been sold after pc release

          • BoyBigEyes

            Isn’t did GTA IV released in PS3, XB360 and PC simultaneously? Why i just find how many units had sold in PS3 and XB360?!

        • RedBearded T

          Yeah, that’s because a lot of PC gamers (myself included) bought the game on consoles. Waiting two years to play a game is quite a long time. I still haven’t bought the game. I’m waiting for the price to go under $30. I’m not paying full price for a game I already bought ones just because it’s on a better (opinion) platform.

          Also, including rockstar sales, steam and 3rd party retailers it sold around 9 million copies in two moths.

          • BoyBigEyes

            You should be a rare pc gamer. I didn’t meet yet any pc gamer that buys a game.

          • RedBearded T

            No, not at all, the whole “PC gamer are pirates” thing is a joke. (Pirating is useless when it comes to multiplayer games) There are 7 million people playing legit copies (games they paid for) at this moment on steam. Especially with how cheap we can buy games on PC with daily sales and huge sales in the summer, fall and winter.

            You may pay a bit more for a PC over a console in the beginning, but with the money we save on games and not paying for multiplayer (Live,PSN) it’s cheaper overall.

          • BoyBigEyes

            No, it is not! It’s the reality! Steam have 100 million users! And are sold every year hundreds of millions of PC’s! How it is possible that the XBone managed to sell more copies of GTA V than the Steam?!

          • RedBearded T

            Because most people didn’t wait two years for the game to come out so we bought it on console. (360 for me)

          • RedBearded T

            Also, GTAV sold 10 million copies on Xbone AND PS4, so they each sold around 5 mil each. PC sold nearly twice the copies of Xbone or PS4.

          • BoyBigEyes

            If it is true, it is irrelevant anyway. PS4 have sold around 20 million and the XBone around 10 million. Stream have 100 million users and are sold every year, hundreds of millions of PC’s. You will see how it is irrelevant when the GTA VI take even more time to come to PC than GTA V.

          • RedBearded T

            I have no idea what you’re trying to say.

        • Fred hgggg

          thats steam only. nice try though. plus this is after the fact it came out years after the console version.

          • BoyBigEyes

            And the others games that are released in consoles and PC in same date?! Just games like Minecraft and World of Warcraft had good sales and it is because of you don’t have other option that be connect to servers of their companies to play! Nice try though! 😉

          • Fred hgggg

            >And the others games that are released in consoles and PC in same date?!

            The release of the game, simutanious to its competition, is irrelevant. Were looking at total sales. not time between release.

            >Just games like Minecraft and World of Warcraft had good sales

            not sure what WoW has to do with consoles…

            >nd it is because of you don’t have other option that be connect to servers of their companies to pla

            Form your sentance again. this time, have an adult help you because what you said makes 0 sense.

            But letes try to decode your raping of the human language.

            MC and WoW had “good sales” and its because the person didnt have the option to connect to other servers?

            First off, anyone can make a minecraft server. Anyone. there are no “dedicated servers”.

            Secondly, WoW is NOT on console.

            Third, if youre attributing the success of a video game to how the devs/publisher set up servers, then youre not only confused, delusional and a dumbass, but also incredibly wrong. A game is successful if its fun to play. WoW and Minecraft are fun to play. Not if theres dedicated servers (which on record, have shown to be a limitation)

      • GotNews4Ya

        I knew someone who owned a Video Game Store.. Now.. Granted it wasn’t Gamestop, but it was a decent size, local store. His Margin on Video Games was SMALL. Not Half. It was more like.. 3$ after all the taxes and crap. I would know.. because I worked there and got awesome discounts.. It was all he could give us is Cost on New AAA Titles.. and I know he wasn’t just messing around, because he gave us 35% off any USED item in his store.. Which included Xbox 360s and PS3s that were 300$.. He was pretty much giving them to us for 180$ and stuff.. He was a great guy to work for.. ( He also let us rent out the used games in the store, without needing to purchase them, as long as we brought them back in a few days) He has since went Retro in his store.. because of the lack of money new titles bring in.

        • Crippled by UK State goons

          My mate owned and ran Gamestation. Till I told him to sell it, when I noticed that games were going to be harder to sell 2nd hand.
          He got quite rich. But the work beforehand…. Day and nite.

      • The truth-ier

        second hand game sells are not counted, but for pc those dollar sales are…what a dumb reply

      • Crippled by UK State goons

        Developers DO GET A CUT OF SECOND-HAND GAME SALES.
        How?
        BECAUSE ALMOST ALL people who Sell their games, would not have bought them if they could not sell them later.
        QED
        The Devs get the increased Sales profits.

    • Andreas Halvorsen Tollånes

      The thing about PC sales, developers get a way larger chunk of the sales than on console. For a 60$ game the developer might only get 9$ but on PC you go digital, and Steam only takes 35% or something. Meaning the same 60$ game will net the developer pretty much 5 times more than they would if they sold it on console. Though the figures are different if its a digital sale on console, but there are still huge licenses there as well.

      • BinaryMind

        Which is why I said it was important to note the average price of purchase. If the game was bought for a few dollars, there are cases where the publisher even loses money after the cost of bandwidth, then Steam’s and Paypal’s cuts.

    • EpochAWOL

      More importantly, they gave L4D2 away for free one weekend. That’s how it ended up in my library. So that number is pretty pointless.

      • Crippled by UK State goons

        When you have SOLD over 10-Million copies of something, a Free Weekend of giving the game away is small fry.

    • alehm

      It’s all a numbers game. Supposed one AAA title sold 3 million copies average of $40 (from release $59 to sales $20) that would be $120 million dollars.
      L4D2 from first retail release to slashed sales prices. Even if the averaged cost of those is $15 per unit that is $195 million.

      It goes to show Publishers they could actually make more money if they sold game cheaper.

      • BinaryMind

        That’s arguable. As someone else mentioned, L4D2 was given away for free at one point so it’s unlikely the average is very high at all. Also, even indie developers have come out and said they don’t get very much profit from Steam sales and Humble Bundles.

      • BinaryMind

        That’s arguable. As someone else mentioned, L4D2 was given away for free at one point so it’s unlikely the average is very high at all. Also, even indie developers have come out and said they don’t get very much profit from Steam sales and Humble Bundles.

  • BoyBigEyes

    And then, pc gamers don’t understand why companies don’t care so much about pc gaming…

    • Dynasty2021

      Moron.

      • BoyBigEyes

        lol Thanks! 😀

    • HAppY_KrAToS

      Right.
      Call of duty sells 15-30 million on consoles, and it sold 300’000 units on PC.
      Is it because 95% of pc gamers simply downloads it from torrents or direct download hosts, for free..?…

      • Ricky Khehra

        btw how many copies of order 1886 sold lol not even a million

      • Ricky Khehra

        lol nobody buys cod on pc these days it’s a trash shooter y waste ur money

      • RedBearded T

        That’s because most PC gamers don’t play COD games. They’ve been the same shit game for the past 4 or 5 games and there are a shit ton of fps games on PC, many of them better than COD. (PC gamer who moved from consoles 7 months ago)

      • Karl

        No, it’s because PC gamers have taste.

        • HAppY_KrAToS

          Sure…taste.. that’s it! You just solved a huge problem for the human kind.

      • Fred hgggg

        because on console, your selection of games are limited. so a generic crappy game like CoD, never sells well. because people dont want it.

        Its like saying “controllers sell more on consoles, PC gamers steal them”.

      • Tyrann

        We got Counterstrike ($12) & Battlefield 3/4($5/$20). Call of Duty rarely on sale at good prices. Black ops 2 is still $65 on steam. You can usually get a newly released game 6 months later for 50% of the price. You may say pc gamers spend a lot on parts, but we’re cheap on game prices, we will wait for deals unless its a much deserving title, like Witcher 3. Call of duty? pff, we’re informed and resourceful, we don’t buy trash.

        • HAppY_KrAToS

          Sorry, but the truth is most PC gamers simply download and mount the iso , for free.
          How many PC guys are 12-18yo? Maybe 50-60%. And those guys have to wait/save money during several months, just to update the graphic card, or simply add some ram or use a faster hd. How many will buy the latest offline game, when they can simply torrent it, or ‘save as’, on a file host like rapidgator or uploaded..
          That’s why a call of duty game will sell 30 million copies on ps3/x360 alone, and will only sell like 200 or 300k on PC, when there are like +20 million gamers playing it on PC.

          Why rocks tar didn’t release a PC version at the same time as on ps3/x360? Because they knew 95% of gamers that own a PC + consoles would just download it for free, on PC, instead of buying it for consoles.

          • RedBearded T

            You can’t play multiplayer without a legit version.

    • Karl

      It seems you either didn’t read the article or were too stupid to understand it.

      • BoyBigEyes

        Sooo sorry dude! I didn’t realise that those sales:

        Far Cry 3 – 2.6 million copies
        Dark Souls : Prepare to Die edition – 2 million copies
        Dishonored : 2.2 million copies
        Fallout New Vegas : 3.8 million copies

        Are great with 100 million users on Steam!

    • OtisJay

      Hey there, It seems you didn’t read the article. It’s ^up There^. We don’t want to be going around making misinformed comments now would we?

      • BoyBigEyes

        100 million users on Steam!

        Far Cry 3 – 2.6 million copies
        Dark Souls : Prepare to Die edition – 2 million copies
        Dishonored : 2.2 million copies
        Fallout New Vegas : 3.8 million copies

        I didn’t make a misinformed comment, is your head that’s misinformed!

  • Dirkster_Dude

    While I would never agree that PC gaming is dead or they don’t see a lot of copies sold my question to author is about the time frame for these numbers. If we are talking about sales over the lifetime of the game then no they aren’t all that impressive compared to the console numbers.

  • The truth-ier

    Anyone with half a brain will tell you during quarterly results companies break down revenue and units sold by platform, usually pc/mac and consoles, and sometimes by pc/mac and each individual console. In no way shape or form do pc games outsell x1 or ps4 games, you have your blips like skyrim, but to be fair your putting every pc out there against one console, now if you pair up both hd consoles then pc always loses.
    Another problem is this, ms nor sony reports hard sales data on digital sales on there respective services.
    Lastly the biggest game launch of a multiplat game is call of duty, for exclusive its still halo, where is the pc game that sells like that? you get your diablos, world of warcraft, but the majority of pc games are already on console and come late, and are crappy little games. Steam sells a ton of small games, casual games, so chalking up there billion dollar business to big selling titles is nonsense, oh and lets not forget valve does not give the specifics on how much revenue they get from steam, so its just a good guess. I dont know why anyone uses vgcharts.
    Publishers go where the money is, they are not fanboys…and the pc support tells the story. almost EVERY big game comes to x1/ps4, then maybe the pc, then if the stars are aligned right then the wii u, that should tell you something.

    • disqusting

      Steam takes 30% developer gets 70%, on consoles its the other way around. So the dev needs to sell double on consoles for the same profit.

  • Jozef

    For what it’s worth, digital sales aren’t tracked on consoles either though. So when concluding that a PC title sells better than an XBOX ONE iteration it’s worth considering that the XBOX ONE sales are also undertracked. Only Microsoft and the Publisher know how many units a title has sold.

    You can get good data from investor reports from large publishers. For instance, I think Ubisoft reported 19% of their sales being on PC, with 20% on XBOX ONE, and over 30% on PS4. But, you also have to consider that many of the more popular PC games are not on consoles. So games like World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and other RPG or strategy titles orientated heavily towards keyboard and mouse controls do not see a presence on consoles. So PC as a platform has an advantage of the revenue from those sorts of games. Then again, the benefits of making such games are reduced. Why make a point and click orientated RPG or strategy game, when you can make it action-orientated and work on both PC and all consoles? From a business perspective we are seeing less titles designed solely for PC. Witcher 3 is a good example, transitioning from more typical point and click RPG mechanics to a Fable-esque control scheme, suitable for controllers.

  • Anton Savchenko

    “One interesting thing to note is that, Skyrim has sold almost 4 million physical copies in addition to almost 9.5 million copies just on Steam”

  • Stickz

    are you dumb? Do you think Steam is the only way to buy PC games? this article has 0 value, 0 good sources just pure speculation while you are making stuff up along the way.

  • wolfgang

    9 mln is nothing if you compare with console market how many people have –ps3, ps4, xbox360, xone—
    more profits make all console that true
    Steam good idea but only if we talk about low price games

    • Tyrann

      We’re talking about sales numbers not profit. Of course console sales are worth more cause PC games go on sale pretty fast at amazing discounts. This aint a bad thing for us gamers lol. We may spend a lot on pc parts but we are cheap on game prices. I cant remember the last time i spend more than $50 on a new game. Even the Witcher 3 i bought at release was $47.

  • Charles Dexter Ward

    Revenue is still way higher on consoles for AAA titles, for some indies, pc is the way to go.