Analyzing an indie F2P success on Steam

The GameDiscoverCo Game Discovery Newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert and GameDiscoverCo founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people are discovering and buying video games in the 2020s.

Slapshot: Rebound – The data behind the success?

There has been very little detailed data revealed by developers of free Steam games. But here are definitely good opportunities, also for indies.

Then back in March, GameDiscoverCo dived deep into the Steam (and mobile) F2P Battle Royale King Of Crabs. And now we’re back again and watching the rather popular multiplayer ice hockey game Slapshot: Rebound, thanks to Oddshot Games founder Gilles / Erveon.

Slapshot: Rebound is a quirk as it is an F2P sports game with realistic physics and deep gameplay tactics, but with a relatively cute look to the characters (as can be seen in the YouTube video above!)

And it has struck a chord with players, as can be seen from the game’s Steam numbers below. Sorry, no exact revenue here, but we can see reach with over 650,000 ‘free licenses’ since December 2020:

We asked Gilles what made him decide to go in this very direction, and he explained: “I inherited the hockey theme when I took over the development of the first Slapshot game from a hobby developer. People were looking for a hockey game on PC, and the popularity of the first Slapshot – which was more or less a prototype – turned out to be a product market fit that I was happy to explore further. “

We can also see the daily free Steam downloads for Slapshot: Rebound below, which is how it turned out to be almost 600,000 total downloads:

There is clearly a launch tip, but all the other tips in the download graph are from influencers who somewhat ‘randomly’ pick up the game.

This makes sense as this is not a title with major theme updates but a continuing eSport that can be discovered at any time. (The download drop in June is Steam Summer Sale, when F2P games become less prominent in Steam’s user interface and seem to happen with all F2P games.)

The largest increase at the end of August 2021 was thanked publicly on the Slapshot Twitter account and revealed to be Polish-speaking influencers Xayoo Industries. Their gaming sessions peaked at around 64,000 simultaneous Twitch viewers (!) And boosted Polish players significantly.

Relatively speaking, you can see the effect on Slapshot’s CCUs and daily active users here, which is a maximum of about 15,000 daily active after the bump:

We also asked Gilles about the most surprisingly good and bad things about Slapshot’s success so far. He explained:

“The most surprising thing has been the size of the community. It exceeded expectations at launch and has been stable for almost a year after launch. It has certainly taken a lot of work to reach that point – but we are sincerely pleased to have created a large enough community to to maintain the game and ourselves. “

The game spent $ 0 on paid marketing during launch, and has still thrived despite it.

But on the bad side? It’s a large, competition-focused multiplayer community “… where a small but loud subgroup of the player is trying to ruin the experience of teammates and harassing our development team. We have spent much more time than expected working on tools and community systems to help counteract this toxicity. In I is extremely grateful to the people who help keep Slapshot as safe in a place as possible with us. “

How does Slapshot earn on Steam?

Although Oddshot does not reveal exact revenue figures here, they say that about 50% of the game’s total revenue generation is via Steam DLC or Steam Wallet purchases.

IAP (in-app purchases) are all Steam Wallet cosmetics in the game in the form of outfits and equipment for your ice hockey players. And there’s also a ‘Lifetime’ Premium DLC for $ 15, which includes exclusive cosmetics and a boost to earn experience and currency in the game.

Cosmetic purchases range from $ 5 to $ 50 for in-game currency, with $ 50 being the most in-game currency for your money. Gilles says that cosmetics make up the majority of their Steam revenue: “The ones that perform best are usually seasonal items. For example, the Santa hat is still the best-selling cosmetic, even though it has only been in the store once.”

He also notes: “We are evaluating several forms of revenue generation, including season tickets, but are in the early stages of this.” As an indie, the idea of ​​trying this more complex form of revenue generation can be potentially stressful – and F2P multiplayer games with IAP must do very well to be financially worthwhile. But it can really go.

A surprising source of PC gaming revenue: Display ads!

Oh, and the other 50% of the total current revenue generation for Slapshot: Rebound? Surprisingly, there are ads in the game! Oddshot works with a bunch of sponsors to make hassle-free advertising in the game on the boards of the hockey field.

As Gilles notes: “In sports arenas, people are already used to seeing commercials as part of aesthetics. For the first iteration of Slapshot, we had joke graphics on the boards. It didn’t take long before community members expressed interest in making their own images to “Advertising for their Slapshot team or livestreams for a small fee. While working on Slapshot: Rebound, we wanted to explore this further; automate the system and get actual brands on there.”

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One thing that helps Oddshot a lot in leveraging advertising deals is the breakdown of the countries that play the game. Unlike King Of Crabs, which had many players from Russia, China, Thailand and Vietnam (there’s nothing wrong with that if you can make money, by the way!), This split is very western / higher-GDP-centered:

Gilles continues: “After some research, we discovered that there are several companies out there that already act as brokers between brands and games for [automate sales]. Through this we have got some great brands to advertise in Slapshot: Rebound, including Lexus, Pizza Hut, Energizer and Microsoft. “

Bonus: The possibility of e-sports?

Finally, while we’re a little tired of eSports being overhyped, it’s clear that Slapshot: Rebound is very esports compatible. It’s an engaging digital version of an existing competitive sport that many people love, even as a minor indie game.

So the first steps in this direction – before the release of this piece, Oddshot announced a campaign with Microsoft and Intel committing to the competition scene in Slapshot: Rebound by pledging $ 5,000 or more to its community-organized initiatives.

Gilles notes: “There have been no cash prizes for Slapshot events before, so this could cause a big shift. That, combined with the new ‘esports hub’ feature in the game we launched, has seen viewership triple on livestreams.”

And as Oddshot begins the process of organizing tournaments with several major e-sports leagues, the promise will fund cash prizes, production value increases and other ways to help the stage.

In other words, it’s good marketing for the game and also a great commitment to the community.

GameDiscoverCo is an agency based on a simple question: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? You can subscribe to GameDiscoverCo Plus to access weekly game analysis and detailed charts, plus the newsletter, an info-filled Discord, a data-exportable Steam Hype backend, two high-quality e-books, and more.

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