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

Check Also

Broforce gets a big update on PS4…and it’s coming to Nintendo Switch!

Broforce, the incredible little game from South African developer Free Lives was a smash h…