How long does it take games to be cheap on Steam?

Sub-$30 games with 250,000+ owners on Steam

Games released in 2014

50% discount average: 166 days (median)
Fastest discount: 70 days | Mean average: 174 days | Slowest discount: 318 days

66% discount average: 311 days (median)
Fastest discount: 136 days | Mean average: 280 days | Slowest discount: 376 days

75% discount average: 348 days (median)
Fastest discount: 196 days | Mean average: 371 days | Slowest discount: 666 days

Conclusions: As expected, the heavy hitters of the sub-$30 category vary significantly from their $30+ counterparts—though not necessarily in the way we might have assumed. In 2014, there's a general decrease in the average time-to-discount, seeming to confirm the instinctual assumption that cheaper—and often smaller—games drop in price the fastest.

In 2015, though, we see the exact opposite. Averages increase significantly across the 20%, 33%, and 50% tiers, not just compared to $30+ games, but contrasted with 2014's data too. From this, we can see just how impactful flash sales were among popular sub-$30 games, serving as a guideline—or even a crutch—for independent publishers and developers lacking the hard sales data available to AAA studios.

Games released in 2015

20% discount average: 98 days (median)Fastest discount: 92 days | Mean average: 105 days | Slowest discount: 126 days

33% discount average: 151 days (mean)Fastest discount: 91 days | Median average: 100 days | Slowest discount: 259 days

40% discount average: 168 days (mean)Fastest discount: 42 days | Median average: 163 days | Slowest discount: 289 days

50% discount average: 279 days (median)Fastest discount: 95 days | Mean average: 228 days | Slowest discount: 331 days

Conclusions: Even with the death of flash sales, the 2015 data reveals just how unpredictable the sub-$30 category is. Lower-priced games employ different definitions of success, leading to a much broader swath of depreciation rates. To produce a practical estimate, then, we have to err higher than the average. For 50%, that means we take the 279-day median and settle on an estimate of around 9 months.

Games released in 2016

20% discount average: 101 days (median)Fastest discount: 0 days | Mean average: 88 days | Slowest discount: 125 days

Conclusions: 2016 trended similarly to 2015 in the 20% tier—the most consistent tier in this category.

Sub-$30 games with 30K - 250K owners on Steam

Games released in 2014

50% discount average: 182 days (median)
Fastest discount: 126 days | Mean average: 166 days | Slowest discount: 191 days

75% discount average: 239 days (median)
Fastest discount: 134 days | Mean average: 211 days | Slowest discount: 255 days

80% discount average: 458 days (mean)
Fastest discount: 256 days | Median average: 462 days | Slowest discount: 651 days

90% discount average: 441 days (mean)
Fastest discount: 261 days | Median average: 446 days | Slowest discount: 611 days

Conclusions: As the peculiarity of 2014's 80% and 90% tiers show, discounts among sub-$30 games can be wildly inconsistent at times. Of course, in this case the higher average for 80% simply reflects the available data and the singular nature of the tiers—most of the games in the 80% tier are not present in the 90% tier, so their data does not balance it out. The 50% tier is more consistent, providing us with an estimate of 6 months, but as always, it's worth noting that these data correlate with flash sales, and as such are less practical for estimating future discounts.

Games released in 2015

25% discount average: 69 days (median)
Fastest discount: 1 day | Mean average: 50 days | Slowest discount: 85 days

50% discount average: 158 days (median)
Fastest discount: 52 days | Mean average: 177 days | Slowest discount: 365 days

75% discount average: 237 days (mean)
Fastest discount: 124 days | Median average: 260 days | Slowest discount: 303 days

Conclusions: 2015's averages drop quite steeply from the previous category, shaving a whole 4 months from the 50% tier. Even compared to the mid-tier $30+ games, we see the halfway point hit a full month earlier. Though less consistent than the $30+ data, we can still settle on an estimate of around 5.25 months for the 50% discount.

Games released in 2016

33% discount average: 82 days (median)
Fastest discount: 0 days | Mean average: 72 days | Slowest discount: 125 days

50% discount average: 145 days (median)
Fastest discount: 87 days | Mean average: 135 days | Slowest discount: 164 days

Conclusions: 2016's data allows us to confirm the stability of 2015's trends in both the 33% and 50% tiers.

On the next page: the conclusions we've drawn from all this data.