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Steam Seasonal Sale Events Performance 2021

Demonstrated by the ever-increasing number of seasonal promotional events that Steam itself rolls out every year, discounts are an incredibly strong and popular mechanism to drive more sales for and optimally, more revenue from your games. In 2022 alone, users will be able to purchase games at discounted prices during at least seven Steam sales. On top of that, there will be the usual Daily, – Weeklong – and Weekend deals to exhaust the potential of discounts throughout the whole year.

Discounts and sales events have been a part of Steam ever since the first Holiday Sale in 2009. Since then the platform rolls out at least one big sale per season. But which of Steam’s own sales events bears the most potential for revenue generation for publishers? We took an in-depth look at the performance of four main sales events of last year to answer this question.  

Performance of Steam Sales

Index of Gross Units Sold of Steam Sale Events 2021

Let’s kick of with one of the key metrics: Gross units sold. As visualized, the Lunar New Year Sale outperformed all the other Seasonal Steam Sale Events in 2021 quite substantially. With an average per day gross units sold index of 156, the Lunar New Year Sale generated 25% more units sold per day than the Summer Sale and, and even more than the Autumn and Winter Sale combined. That is quite astounding, considering the Lunar New Year Sale is technically not considered a big Steam Sale. The Lunar New Year Sale lasted much shorter than (4 days), than the Summer, Autumn and Winter Sale, with the Summer and Winter Sale Events lasting two weeks and the Autumn Sale which spanned across a week, respectively. 

Average Per Day Gross Units Sold Index of Steam Seasonal Sale Events 2021

Index of Net Units Sold of Steam Sale Events 2021

Average per day net units sold performance unsurprisingly followed the same pattern as gross units sold, with the Lunar New Year Sale strongly outperforming all other Sales events. The performance gap was even larger due to fewer units being returned compared to the other Sales. With a net unit sold index of 162, the Lunar New Year Sale generated 29% more average per day net units sold than the Summer Sale, 60% more than the Autumn Sale, and 64% more than the Winter Sale. 

Average Per Day Net Units Sold Index of Steam Seasonal Sale Events 2021

Index of Number of Units Returned of Steam Sale Events 2021

On average, more units were returned during the Summer Sale, which has an average per day units returned index of 149, followed up by the Lunar New Year Sale with 122 and the Autumn and Winter Sale with 59 and 71, respectively. Perhaps players are generally less excited about newly purchased games when it’s sunny and decide to spend their time outside if the game isn’t able to convince them in the first couple of hours of playing. Another reason could be the quantity of games being on sale during the Summer Sale, causing players to more critically review whether they spend their money on the right game (out of the many other’s they could have chosen for).

Average Per Day Units Returned Index of Steam Seasonal Sale Events 2021

Index of Cost of Units Returned of Steam Sale Events 2021

Average per day cost of units returned followed a similar pattern, with the highest cost of units returned stemming from the Summer Sale, followed by the Lunar, then Winter, then Autumn Sale. Interestingly, the average per day cost of units returned during the Lunar Sale was quite a bit lower than actual units returned, giving reason to believe that users returned generally lower priced games. Inversely, the average per day cost of units returned from the Winter Sale was a bit higher than the average per day units returned, suggesting that more pricey items were returned during the Winter Sale than other Steam Sale Events of 2021.

Average Per Day Cost of Units Returned Index of Steam Seasonal Sale Events 2021

Index of Gross Revenue of Steam Sale Events 2021

Coming back to the spiciest metrics, let’s take a look at the average per day gross revenue generated. Unsurprisingly, the Lunar New Year Sale comes out on top again. With a sales index of 141, it topples the Summer Sale by 17%, which generated an average per day gross revenue index of 117. The Autumn sale generated a revenue index of 75, which is still 7% more than the average per day gross revenue produced during the Winter Sale. The cost of units returned during the Winter Sale was so high that the  Autumn Sale was able to generate a higher per day average gross revenue.

Average Per Day Gross Revenue Index of Steam Seasonal Sale Events 2021

Index of Net Revenue of Steam Sale Events 2021

Unsurprisingly, the average per day net revenue generated shows the same relationship between the examined Steam Sales Events as the average per day gross revenue. The Lunar New Year Sale performed even a bit better, generating an index of 145, which is 19% better than the Summer Sale. The Autumn follows suit, with a sales index of 75, which is around 24% worse average per day performance than the Summer Sale, but 11% better than that of the Winter Sale, which again comes in as last. 

Average Per Day Net Revenue Performance of Steam Seasonal Sale Events 2021

Which Steam Seasonal Sale performed the best?

The performance uptake of gross units sold during the Lunar Sale compared to the equally long precedent period was generally lower than that of the other sale events. This is due to the fact that the Steam Game Festival took place just a week before the Lunar New Year Sale, from the 3rd to the 9th of February, torpedoing Steam per day units sold performance before the Lunar New Year Sale even kicked off. Similarly, we can explain the massive increase in gross units sold during the Summer Sale compared to the two weeks prior to the sale. While Steam’s Next took place just a few days before the start of the Summer Sale, its two-week precedent period performed very low, with an average Steam Data Suite sales index of only 73. In comparison, our sales index for the four days prior to the Lunar New Year Sale amounts to an average of 198, demonstrating how strong of a sales period the beginning of 2021 was. While the Lunar New Year Sale, due to its shortness, did not generate most units sold and revenue overall, it outperformed all other Seasonal Steam Sale Events by per day performance, making it the best performing Seasonal Steam Sale Event of 2021

Performance Change of Steam Seasonal Sale Events 2021

How to arrive at the most profitable discount?

So what conclusions can we draw from the sales analyses? Clearly, Steam’s Seasonal Sales events drive a lot of sales and revenue across the whole year. The key for publishers lies in identifying the perfect discounts for their games that not only generate more sales but ideally also significantly more net revenue. To do so, we advise our current and future users to utilize Steam Data Suite’s sales events tool. The sales events tool automatically detects the periods during which a game was on sale and reports all crucial metrics for that period, including changes in sales, keys, wishlist, and revenue compared to prior sales. You can also create custom events to make sure that any change in these metrics that can be attributed to an event is accounted for. That way, you can evaluate the performance of various discounts across multiple events to identify the discount percentage that generates the most sales and net revenue for each of your gamesCheck out the sales event stool 🠖

We’ll be happy to get your feedback about our insights, tools, and features at info@steamdatasuite.com.

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