Home Gaming How are our South African games doing on Steam?

How are our South African games doing on Steam?

5 min read

Make Games South Africa (MGSA) recently released some survey results about the local industry and there were some interesting things in it. Obviously Zoe hit the big one about white males dominating the industry last week, but I was intrigued by a different statistic.

According to the survey of local game developers, 3 studios make up 48% of the revenue of the entire industry. These studios also only develop their own IP and all that IP is in the entertainment sector. The current market cap for the entire industry locally is R53 000 000, so using my amazing maths skills we can calculate that the three studios combined earned somewhere in the region of R25 440 000 in the last year. Now they didn’t give specifics so from this point on this article is based heavily on conjecture.

The three biggest selling games developed locally have previously been announced as Desktop Dungeons by QCF Design, Viscera Cleanup Detail by RuneStorm and Broforce by Free Lives Games. All three games were released on Steam –  not forgetting of course, that Desktop Dungeons can also be played in browser. The best part about Steam is that there analytics are open for anyone to view. So lets see how our guys are doing on steam, keeping it mind they reported (we presume) the R25m income over the last year.

So in alphabetical order here we go:


We can see their average player count has been pretty consistent since it was released in April 2014 with a nice boost around E3 last year and then again in February this year which was probably related to the Alien Update release.  Broforce’s peak concurrent was over E3 with 1607 people playing, with an average of around 200-220 over the past year.

Broforce is still in beta and is planning on being released properly on PC, PS Vita and PS4 this year.

Desktop Dungeons

Desktop Dungeons has been out a lot longer, hitting the Steam marketplace in November 2013. In contrast to Broforce their popularity seems to spike more around Steam specials and then drops down to the lower 2 digit scale. Remember you can also play Desktop Dungeons via the browser so these stats are definitely skewed.

Desktop Dungeons hit a peak of 1528 in January 2014 with an average, outside of sales, of around 40-50.

Desktop Dungeons is going to launch a mobile edition soon which I predict is going to explode and will do stratospherically well if it is priced correctly on the app store (which in my opinion, is around $5).

Viscera Cleanup Detail


Next up is Viscera Cleanup Detail which also launched around the same time as Broforce but doesn’t have the Sony PlayStation partnership to help draw in its players. It does have a connection to Shadow Warrior though, which has helped its popularity somewhat.

Viscera peaked at 1024 players and averages around the 60-70 mark – except for in July 2014 and December 2014 where it peaked. I have to be honest through I’m not sure why. I recall an update in December but I’m blanking on what happened in July 2014.

I don’t know anything about their future plans, anyone able to help a guy out?

I have to admit that those numbers are lower than I expected for 3 studios, who combined, may have netted R25 million in the last year. Which is a good thing, it means there is obviously a lot of money to be made in indie gaming and if you can get a solid title out there to average around 100 players then you are doing well.

Desktop Dungeons and Visceral together are pretty much as popular as Broforce so with all things being equal then Desktop and Visceral both earned R6 million in the last year with Broforce taking the other R12 million… but life isn’t equal and I doubt we’ll ever actually know how much any of these games made in a year and over their lifespan.

Other Indie Titles

Just for interest’s sake,I took a look at two other international indie titles to see how we compare.

First up, the hipster love-fest that is Thomas Was Alone.

Thomas Was Alone

Thomas was more than just alone he was a very slow starter in life. The official Steam stats have him at zero plays for his first two months and then getting an average of 20-30 concurrents up until May 2013 where it started spiking around the E3 time hitting a peak of 1013 concurrents before dropping to average around the 50 level and then to the 20’s before ending up in the low teens.

So while Thomas Was Along got a ton of media coverage it never really converted into massive figures, though it must be said that the game is available to play on just about everything. 

On the other hand, Rogue Legacy has done gangbusters.

Rogue Legacy

Launching in June 2013, around E3 which we always tell people not to do, it instantly hit an average of 908 users pushing up to 2833 the next month.

It then continued to record an average in the high hundreds, early thousands, with a few noticeable drops until around November last year where it started to drop constantly – and is now around 350 concurrents. Which is still higher than every other game spoken about.

And how does that compare to two AAA titles?

Advanced Warfare

Advanced Warfare opened with a bang at 12,243 average concurrents but has followed a steep decline since then now sitting at a poor 2913 average monthly players only 6 months in.

But prepare for Evolve.


Evolve launched with massive fanfare and an average of 9030 concurrents in February. In March that dropped by nearly 70%, and now in April it looks to drop again by nearly 40%.

It’s now nearly as popular as Broforce and Desktop Dungeons on their sales and launch months.

Last Updated: April 28, 2015


  1. Admiral Chief

    April 28, 2015 at 12:11

    So not a lot of people know how alone Thomas was?


    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      April 28, 2015 at 12:12

      He was a bit of a square.


      • Admiral Chief

        April 28, 2015 at 12:14

        Up, and to the right


      • Skoobaz

        April 28, 2015 at 12:15

        Couldn’t be pegged in the right hole… too much?


    • Hammersteyn

      April 28, 2015 at 12:19

      We wasn’t that alone, he finds someone early on 😛


      • Admiral Chief

        April 28, 2015 at 12:20

        Well, you can join the club at least


  2. Hammersteyn

    April 28, 2015 at 12:18

    So not even throwing rocks for DLC could get Evolve’s numbers back up?


    • Admiral Chief

      April 28, 2015 at 12:21

      They should try that blue pill to get it back up


  3. Audacity (or-das-it-eeee-eee)

    April 28, 2015 at 12:21

    Looking up for local game dev


  4. BurnZ

    April 28, 2015 at 12:48

    Well done to our local developers! You guys rock!! hahaha to evolve, that game needs a perfect playing environment to be a really good game, otherwise its not very good at all (Im laughing cause i actually pre-ordered it and got BURNED BABY BURNED!!!!!)


  5. Kensei Seraph

    April 28, 2015 at 12:49

    I got Desktop Dungeons and to be honest, I’m not very good at it.
    I’m getting there slowly. Very slowly.


    • Geoffrey Tim

      April 28, 2015 at 12:58

      Well, the game is essentially maths with a graphical user interface – but like most reogue-like-like-likes, it’s you that does the levelling up, not your avatar. You’ll get there. That game’s puzzle bits make me feel super, super dumb.


      • Blood Emperor Trevor

        April 28, 2015 at 14:35

        Puzzle bits? That’s the menu. *run*


  6. Kevin

    April 28, 2015 at 12:58

    While playing the Evolve beta I already knew the game would get boring pretty quickly after launch but I expected at least some more people still playing.


    • Sageville

      April 28, 2015 at 13:20

      I still see my Evolve group playing most nights, but yeah I was sad to see the decline.


      • Kevin

        April 29, 2015 at 13:12

        Even though I did not play the full game, there was just something missing in the game. I expected I would buy the game some day when it was a little cheaper but it seems like Evolve is becoming another ‘Brink’ or Quake Enemy Territory, which were good games but just missed that special something or feeling.

        The idea behind Evolve is OK but unlike Left 4 Dead, it has no campaign (as far as I know) and basically misses everything that made L4D a great game. Obviously, there are lots of games without a campaign but make up for it some other way.

        Ofcourse, there will be a group of people playing the game on a daily basis but most of ’em will soon move on.


  7. Sageville

    April 28, 2015 at 13:19

    Wow, that really opens my eyes, I honestly thought those numbers would have been bigger…


  8. Kromas,powered by windows 10.

    April 28, 2015 at 13:36

    Who else thinks that the spike in activity for the last 30 days for DD was due to a certain article that was dropped here. 😛


    • Gavin Mannion

      April 28, 2015 at 14:33

      COINCIDENCE…. honestly there are a lot of things I see people do after our articles and claim we had nothing to do with it.. but this time I really don’t think it was us.

      I think we likely wrote about it because the increased activity around the title reminded us about it… or something


      • Blood Emperor Trevor

        April 28, 2015 at 14:36

        It was on sale last week.


  9. Rudi

    April 28, 2015 at 14:58

    Good to see more and more South African devs’ titles on Steam – what about doing an article about local games currently on Greenlight to help get them on there as well? Just a thought 🙂


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