Think of all the different ways you bought and otherwise spent money on games throughout 2019. Microtransactions, full games, early access, DLC, game bundles, subscriptions? I've always tried to stick to buying full games and maybe a bit of DLC, but recently I've started to branch out from that. I put it down to game publishers experimenting with new ways to encourage me to part with my dosh, and succeeding in doing that.
This is something that Paradox CEO Ebba Ljungerd touches on in the company's newly published year-end report for 2019. She notes that for the past decade Steam has been, and still is, an important distribution channel for Paradox. However, Ljungerd says "we know that player behavior changes over time and therefore it is important for us to continuously test new distribution channels."
It's not made clear exactly what this change in player behaviour that Paradox refers to, or even if it's something specific. But it's possible to speculate that the arrival of the Epic Games Store, along with publishers pushing their own online stores and clients such as those provided by Ubisoft, Rockstar, and EA, may have taken from Steam a little.
In any case, Paradox is making an effort to rely less on Steam going forward. That seems to be why it put Stellaris, Hearts of Iron IV, and Europa Universalis IV on Xbox Game Pass for PC last year. The publisher also released its first early access game on the Epic Games Store with Surviving the Aftermath. It also conducted an experiment with Europa Universalis IV last month by offering all of the game's expansions for a monthly subscription fee.
It seems that Paradox will continue to test out alternatives to selling its games on Steam going into 2020. This could affect how you end up purchasing its upcoming games for this year, which include Crusader Kings 3, Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, Empire of Sin, and the full launch of Surviving the Aftermath.
Not that Paradox has seen a drop in profits. In fact, the report reveals that the company saw profits increase quite a bit all round. Plus, the monthly unique active players across all of Paradox's games reached "the highest figure ever" at four million by the end of 2019. The report also notes how Paradox managed to turn around the initially negative reaction to Imperator: Rome to a positive one by working with the community.