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Steam launch earnings says ‘success’ is on the rise

The Steam team over at Valve has poked at the platform’s earnings data to paint a picture of how earnings trends on the digital storefront have shifted over the years, ultimately noting that successful launches are up 18 percent year-over-year.

That’s by Valve’s definition of success of course, which is described in the full breakdown as a game earning over $10,000 on Steam within two weeks of its launch.

By that same data, Valve says games in this pool typically go on to reap earnings of between $20,000 and $60,000 in their first 12 months, but it’s not stated if these figures mean total sales before Valve’s 30 percent cut or the actual takehome devs see from their game’s earnings.

In 2019, nearly 1,200 games cleared $10,000 earned, up from just under 1,000 the year before. The exact figures themselves are a little approximate thanks to the fact that the data is presented in a series of charts, but even with that vagueness there’s enough info offered to see the trend.

In a similar vein, Valve’s research notes report similar increases in games seeing $5,000, $50,000, $100,000, and $250,000 in their first two weeks from year to year, though the number of games hitting each milestone naturally wanes as earnings go up. Just under 300 games, for instance, earned $250,000 in their first two weeks on Steam, up from just over 225 in 2018 and 2017.

Valve notes as well that the year-over-year rise isn’t solely due to more games releasing on the platform with each passing year: the proportion of games meeting that $10k-in-two-weeks success is also up 11 percent from 2018. Looking at median game earnings, Valve also says the median game on Steam in 2019 earned 24 percent more than the median game in 2018.

Earnings aren’t up for every game on Steam however. As Valve notes in the full blog, those below the 35th percentile actually earned less than comparable launches in 2018.

“We opened the platform because we believed that ‘hand curating’ the titles released on Steam had led to some great titles being missed,” Valve writes, referencing below the graph projecting earnings if it had continued heavy curation. “While we can’t say for sure, we think the green portions of the bars above the dashed line are, largely, games that would never have previously found success on Steam… because they never would have been released on the platform at all.”

There’s more data for devs to chew through in the full report, including deeper dives into those games falling below the 35th percentile and graphs to go with many of the figures only mentioned here.

Personally I haven’t released a game onto steam but I have released a game to google play here.

In recent years, free games have become the norm, with some even overtaking paid-for triple-A tiles as the leaders of the PC gaming hobby. Take a quick look at Steam’s most-played list and you’ll see that a significant proportion of the biggest games in the world happen to be free-to-play.

So, because we desperately care about the health of your bank account – and honestly worry about how much money you’re spending on your nasty gaming habit – we want to help you find all the free games worth your time. Below you’ll find a bounty of free Steam games, all available to download and play right now. What are you waiting for?


A warship is in the process of exploding in one of the best free Steam games, World of Warships

World of Warships

There are heaps of quality tank games available on Steam, but prospective admirals have far fewer options. Fortunately then, there’s World of Warships, which is not only one of the very best naval warfare simulation games, but also a free Steam game. With 200 of the titular warships for players to unlock, from destroyers and cruisers to battleships and aircraft carriers, players can rest assured they won’t run out of new toys to aim for. Not that you’ll notice the grind: the multiplayer naval battles of World of Warships are pure spectacle.

Play World of Warships for free

A patriotic American plane shining in the sun in one of the best free Steam games, War Thunder

War Thunder

In World War II soldiers would often hear thunder in the distance and prepare themselves for rain, only for them to discover it was actually War Thunder; a tank game about planes and tanks shooting each other. Gaijin’s flight game straps you into a mind-shattering variety of authentic 1940s war machines and tasks you with surviving countless dogfights and land battles with other players.

It is a game that is constantly being updated and improved, with the biggest additions providing whole new types of vehicles like warships for massive naval battles. To help you make sense of it all we have put together a guide to the best War Thunder tier 1 planes, and a tank battles guide, too.

Play War Thunder for free

A demonic beast challenges you in RIFT, one of the best free Steam games


Rift is an exciting MMORPG from Trion Games, and it is a pretty popular free Steam game. Set in the epic fantasy world of Telara, you will be embarking upon a journey that sees your character grow, develop new skills, wield special weapons, and defeat dangerous beasts. It’s got everything you could want from one of the best MMORPGs.

Once you have decided which faction you will be siding with – either the Guardians or the Defiant – you can start your adventure in this massive, rich world. You also have plenty of choice in which Calling you choose. Will you be a Warrior, Cleric, Mage, Rogue, or Primalist? Or, if you just want to bypass all that rigmarole, you can choose a Purpose: a pre-made profile so you can just get stuck in straight away.

Play Rift for free

A heroic character roars with power in one of the best free Steam games, ArcheAGe


ArcheAge, Trion’s free-to-play MMO, begins very much in the mould of tradition: quests, crafting, and slightly humdrum fantasy adventures. Get past that though, and the game quickly makes way for high seas escapades as you and some chums set off on your very own ship, becoming wealthy traders or unfriendly pirates, preying on other players. It is a true sandbox MMO that is vastly accommodating to the ambitious merchant, explorer, or scallywag.

ArcheAge is free-to-play, with some premium content unlocked by a subscription – or alternatively, you can purchase the identical but separate game ArcheAge: Unchained to experience everything the game has to offer.

Play ArcheAge for free

Free Steam games Eve online


One of the great MMOs of our time, EVE Online is now available to play without a subscription fee. This means that literally anyone with a PC can start their own voyage of discovery within the vastness of space. The only question is: who will you be? Unlike class-based fantasy RPG games, EVE isn’t about being a ranger or a warrior and saving the world. It’s about becoming a cog within a huge, player-controlled universe.

So will you be a trader and help bring much-needed items to others? Or will you rise through the ranks of a corrupt corporation and engage in tactical sabotage against your enemies? These are just two of the countless thousands of paths that are available to you in this incredible, unrivaled MMO.

Play Eve Online for free

Free Steam games Cuisine Royale

Cuisine Royale

Cuisine Royale may have started life as a joke spinoff for squad-based MMO shooter Enlisted, but it’s earned its place on this list through constant quality updates and its madcap twists on the battle royale genre. While you’ll spend most of a match in PUBG tracking down a hefty set of plate armour, in Cuisine Royale you just need to find a kitchen, strap some metal cookware over your vital organs, and you’re good to go. Regular content updates also keep things fresh and funny, with everything from historic figures to superpowered demons being rotated in and out of the free-to-play battle royale game.

Play Cuisine Royale for free

A massive armored vehicle sails through the air in one of the best Steam games, Crossout


Crossout is a post-apocalyptic MMO action game from Targem Games in which you craft and build monstrously-sized machines and use them to bash others in explosive online games. So it is basically what you used to do during your childhood with Lego, but with the magic of computers.

You can craft a wide variety of vehicles – from small, nimble buggies to rugged off-roaders – with an arsenal of weapons just as large: get your murderous hands on power drills, machine guns, and rocket launchers, or even stealth generators if you fancy a quieter approach. With an arsenal like that, it is easy to see why Crossout is one of the best free Steam games.

As you fight, you build your reputation with your chosen Crossout faction. In PvP or PvE (where you can even fight user-created bosses) engaging in some good ol’ shooting will grant you new parts and blueprints to continue your vehicular crusade. If you need a hand getting started, just consult our Crossout beginner’s guide.

Play Crossout for free

A space battle in one of the best free Steam games, Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online is an MMO set in the unmistakable sci-fi world of the starship Enterprise, where you are given a ship, a crew and sent off on sci-fi adventures that feel authentically Star Trek. Though it’s ever-ageing, it continues to get regular free updates that add new, elaborate episodic missions, additional gear, seasonal events, and even the crew of Deep Space Nine in Star Trek Online.

The story also has a tangible impact on the evolving galaxy. While there is a cash shop and premium ships, the game continues to be extremely generous toward free players, allowing them freedom in their exploration of the final frontier.

Play Star Trek Online for free

A terrible threat looms behind a sleep space craft in one of the best free steam games, Star Conflict

Star Conflict

Do you long for a free Steam game that is effectively one gigantic, endless spaceship dogfighting simulator? Star Conflict takes the idea of player-driven stories spawned by Eve Online and condenses it to a much more action-packed, combat-oriented experience with a much more gentle onboarding process.

When you are not skirmishing in nimble fighters or massive frigates, you can simply explore the beautiful, vibrant cluster of ancient worlds scattered through its sizeable void.

Play Star Conflict for free

Magic wielders do battle in one of the best free Steam games, Neverwinter


Neverwinter is the MMO take on Bioware’s classic and beloved RPG, taking you to the Forgotten Realms and pitting you against hobgoblins, kobolds, and much, much worse. It is a surprisingly robust action-MMO, with a strong emphasis on skill-heavy combat and a pretty world to explore.

There is a bit of a push for players to buy things in the in-game store, but you can do everything without paying a penny. That even includes playing the frequent expansions, such as the recent Swords of Chult update that adds a new skirmish and refines the PvP elements.

Play Neverwinter for free



Albion Online is a sandbox MMO in which characters don’t belong to specific classes, allowing for a more adaptable playstyle where you’ll need to progress your character and adjust your combat style by gathering resources, buying and selling gear, and slowly building up your loot stash. It’s no surprise players are sinking hours into this free MMO; the world has a lot to offer including deadly fights against other players, different biomes to explore, and a loot system that drives players from the comfort of any one area in Albion’s expansive map.

Albion’s the name and PvP’s the game, so don’t get bogged down in farming and riding your horse into the great unknown, ambushes are common and brutal, so come prepared, but not too prepared, as the unforgiving full-loot drop system on death can be incredibly frustrating.

Play Albion Online for free

Gods clash in one of the best free Steam games, Smite


Smite is a MOBA with a twist: you control your religion-influenced gods like you would in a third person action game, with the camera positioned behind them. This makes Smite feel a very different kind of 5v5 game, and the differences do not stop there. Smite has numerous modes, including the team deathmatch-influenced Arena. That said, it has still got plenty of familiar stuff: lanes, creeps, and items are all present and correct, and the pantheon of gods is being ever added to. If you are just getting started, check out our Smite beginner’s guide.

One of the best free steam games, Warframe


Warframe lets you play as a space ninja, and that is probably all that you need to know to start getting excited. Beyond that, it is a third-person co-op affair that pits you against goons and other space ninjas, all wearing fancy ‘warframes’ that provide special abilities. It is a slick action game with a hint of Destiny about it, thanks to its buddy-up mission design and shared-world social environments. Part of the attraction is perfecting your own Warframe build so you can clear levels and grind faster than anyone else.

There may be a bit of grind involved if you want to craft the coolest gear, but you will be slicing people in half and powersliding around on your knees for most of that, so don’t be too concerned. It is one of the most popular free Steam games, meaning there is always people to play with, and frequent huge, updates like Plains of Eidolon and the even larger Warframe Fortuna expansion.

About to complete a level 2 Storm Spirit in one of the best free Steam games, Dota Underlords

Dota Underlords

The first official auto chess game out of the blocks following Drodo’s Dota 2 mods, Dota Underlords, Valve’s mobile and PC effort set a high starting bar. It’s a bit more user-friendly than its custom inspiration and veteran players of the notoriously tough MOBA will feel right at home.

One of the crucial differences this free Steam game has to its big rival, Riot’s Team fight Tactics, is the Dota Underlords items system. Rounds one, two, three, 10 and every fifth round after that are creep rounds that give you the choice of three items. Valve have also introduced the powerful presence of the Underlords themselves to each players’ team, providing each lineup with significant additional buffs and damage, according to the skills you select for your Underlord each game.

An aerial battle in one of the best free Steam games, World of Warplanes

World of Warplanes

With over five different aircraft at your disposal with which to deal wartime airborne damage, this free Steam game puts you at the centre of perennial scrap during the Golden Age of military aviation with high-octane 12v12 battles.

This WW2 game lets you fight for the flags of seven different contemporary powers with environments that take inspiration from regions across the globe. There’s also over four thousand customisation options spread across each of your available crafts, which will certainly keep you busy.

An aggressive looking car in Heavy Metal Machines, one of the best free Steam games

Heavy Metal Machines

Wish that Rocket League was a little more Mad Max? Well now you can headbang and prepare for the apocalypse in Heavy Metal Machines, a 4v4 MOBA car action game. Help your team of hooligans nab and volley a bomb ball into the opposition’s goal to score with the first team to three wins the match. Even though the game in currently in Early Access the developers, Hoplon, have pinky promised that the game will now and always be free to play.

Each machine has its own abilities, play style and punk-inspired character, one of them being a batty old lady riding a reinforced hover bike. Each character has their own personality, heavy metal soundtrack, and a detailed background story over on the website. It’s hectic, explosive and good fun to play.

A robot shoots at an unseen foe under a cherry blossom tree in one of the best free Steam games, Warface


Warface is a gritty free-to-play first-person shooter that you can tackle with or against your friends in co-op or competitive versus modes. You will find plenty of variety while playing with others as you attempt to master a range of teamwork strategies and playstyles on multiplayer maps that change every day.

Get to grips with the Rifleman, Sniper, Engineer, and Medic classes, and bask in the atmospheric environments that are beautifully rendered by Crytek’s CryEngine. With a substantial array of weapons and difficulty levels all available without spending a penny, Warface is a great option for some free FPS action.

A very anime card game - Shadowverse, one of the best free Steam games


You might have spent many hours with Hearthstone, but a true rival to Blizzard’s epic CCG looks to be on the cards, so to speak. Shadowverse is an immensely popular game in Japan – quickly becoming its biggest of the genre after the mobile release in 2016 – and is already setting the rest of the world on fire as one of the best card games on PC. It is destined to be your next free CCG fix.

With the freedom of many strategies and playstyles to experiment with, and minimal RNG, Shadowverse always feels fresh. And that is before we mention the new card expansions that hit every three months. It is very easy to get started with, too: a tutorial, single-player story, and free card packs for beginners will get you going, but Shadowverse takes time to master.

Battling a mechanical pegasus in one of the best Steam games, Skyforge


Science fiction meets fantasy in this action-heavy MMO where players gain power with the ultimate goal of becoming a deity. Lofty is an understatement, but Skyforge delivers countless hours of action with a lot less grind than average free Steam games. How? Skyforge does without traditional levelling structures and set classes and instead lets you progress your character based on your total stats and XP. As for classes, you can swap between any of the 12 unlockable classes at will, giving you plenty of flexibility when approaching a new combat scenario.

A player on a horse charges towards a fortified buliding in one of the best free Steam games, Realm Royale

Realm Royale

Battle royale is Steam’s biggest export right now, with PUBG commanding the gaming hours of millions. But what if you don’t want to splash out on PlayerUnknown’s wares, and you don’t fancy leaving the perimeter of Steam? You need Realm Royale, the fantasy 100-player deathmatch from Hi-Rez.

While it may look a bit like Fortnite from the outside, dive into a match and you’ll soon see that Realm Royale has several of its own ideas that solve some of the genre’s long-standing problems. You don’t have to leave behind loot that’s unuseful; simply disenchant it into shards, and spend these at a Forge to craft new, legendary-grade weapons and armour.

But watch out: fire up the Forge and you’ll suddenly become the target of dozens of foes looking to swipe that new gear from under your nose. It adds a new level of tension to the mid-game, something Fortnite and PUBG has yet to crack. Need help mastering it? Here’s our Realm Royale guide.




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