Crunching Steam Curators

Today I calculated that I am famous. Not VERY famous, but somewhat, nonetheless.

Indeed, as of lunch today, Swedish time, I am the 1214th Steam Curator in the world, with the impressive number of 8 (EIGHT!) followers. Before lunch, I had 7 followers and was listed somewhere on place 1260th – ish. I forced a friend to follow me in order to obtain this amazing success (thank you, Joel!).

There are 9932 Steam Curators listed right now. This morning there were 8343. Today, about 1589 people in the world became Steam Curators. It’s an easy process, but not a trivial one. In order to be a Steam Curator, you must have a group, a tagline and at least 10 games you have to recommend, each needing a small description written by you (even if you can get away with just 1 character there).

I started to make some calculations after lunch today, when 9986 Steam Curators were listed. Here are my findings.

The popular few and unpopular many

There is only one Steam Curator with more than 100000 followers. He is TotalBiscuit and his Curator page, Cynical Brit Gaming, is currently followed by 273,223 people. This morning he was followed by 272,208 people, which means that during the course of today, and considering that I am on European time (so I am awake when Americans are sleeping), TotalBiscuit gained 1,015 new followers. 

Next in line is PC Gamer, with 96,442 followers. This morning, they had 96,053, so today they gained about 389 new followers. Here is what happened today with the top 20 Steam Curators:

 

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Curator no. 20, which is the Russian StopGame.ru, gained 58 new followers today. After the second page of Curators, things certainly don’t get better. Well known names such as Devolver Digital, Double Fine Productions or Giant Bomb did not manage to surpass 58 new followers today. They all have under 7,000 followers – that’s about 265,000 followers short of the number that TotalBiscuit managed to gather, about 21,000 less than Curator no. 10 and about 2,000 less compared to Curator no. 20.

There’s one single insanely popular Curator, with over 100,000 followers, 4 Curators between 50,000 and 100,000 followers and only 96 Curators with more than 10,000 followers, but less than 50,000. And 205 more people who managed to gather between 100 and 1,000 followers. The majority of 9942 Curators have less than 100 followers, and most of those have less than 5 (8480)*.

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How about the games, though?

There is a fear of information clutter and the impossibility to discover good new games. I wish I could tell you how many games are published on Steam right now, but this kind of information is not public. But since the heavy democratization of the Steam platform, we know for certain that there are an awful lot of games released nowadays**. On top of that, we add the fear that the popular Steam Curators might have other interests at heart. But just how many games have the popular Curators recommended?

 

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This means that 111 games are recommended to  273,223 people by TotalBiscuit. If I were an indie developer…****

The Big Picture

If you have 24 minutes to spare, I recommend you to watch The art of choosing, a very interesting TED talk by Sheena Iyengar. There is also an excellent choice related playlist from TED here. Now let’s step back and look at the big picture for a second.

Steam Curator service was launched on September 23rd, 2014. That’s just a little more than 2 weeks ago. Let’s keep in mind that Steam also announced that they surpassed 75 million active users at Steam Dev Days that took place in January 15-16 this year. That number, impressive in itself, contained another amazing data: in only 3 months, from October 2013 until January 2014, Steam gained 10 million users. Ten months have passed since Steam Days, so I am guessing that they have about 100 million users now. Considering these numbers, 9932 Steam Curators does not seem so much. Nor does 273,223 followers, and maybe even less so, the 1,015 new followers that TotalBiscuit gained today.

What I personally find impressive is the rate at which these new services grow. 1589 people became Curators today. More people were willing to go through the cumbersome process of becoming a Curator than those willing to click the Follow button on the first Curator result on the Steam homepage. There are at least 1589 people who want something more from this service***, and I think that is precisely why Steam launched it. The secret is simple: you DON’T have to follow the popular Curators. If you want the best recommendations, then you probably want to spend some time and find those Curators that are good FOR YOU. Don’t tell me you have game tastes that are identical to those of 273,223 people. So spend the time to research and find the people that share your unique tastes and can surprise you. There are at least 75 million potential candidates for that.

 BY THE WAY

While I wrote this article (in a couple of hours), 38 new Curators appeared on Steam. This might sound scary for some, but to me, this sounds like freedom, and a great new way to discover adventures that bind us.

* Numbers tend to vary slightly, trending up, based on the hour at which I measured this.
** Some developers live with the impressions that there are hundreds of games released every day. The truth lies somewhere under 30, and as low as 3, but that’s for another analysis 😉
*** There are 8931 people with 0 to 10 followers today. I am one of them. While I cannot speak for the rest, I personally do not follow any of the popular Curators. The best game recommendations I ever got were from my friends. I created a Steam Curator page precisely because I want to exchange game recommendations with my friends.
**** Later Edit: I removed this paragraph: “…I wouldn’t wish to be on his list. He is too popular and hence, too controversial. I would rather be on the Hodor Review list, who has almost 10,000 followers and has recommended 136 games so far (he is diligent, for sure, which will probably bring him more success) or on The Cox List, who has almost 50,000 users, but only recommended 26 games (is this a critical mind, or a lazy curation? Time will tell).”  The truth is, I am not an indie dev, and if I were, I’d probably wish damn hard to be on TotalBiscuit’s list. What fascinates me, though, is the amount of people who have few followers, as I believe they will grow and they are key to the success of the Steam Curator service.