The brand-new horror title in the “Outlast” series, “The Outlast Trials,” took the top spot for paid releases with a launch price tag of $30 — according to the weekly Steam charts, which reveals games sold best on Valve’s overwhelmingly dominant PC game distribution platform. “The Outlast Trials” was beaten only in sales volume by the free-to-play title “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.”
Though it’s not the heart of October’s spooky season, that time of year when horror game sales ramp up as people get festive, it hasn’t stopped “The Outlast Trials” from capitalizing on the series’ long-running name brand power. The series kicked off in 2013 with the PC version of “Outlast,” followed by a sequel in 2017. By 2018, the games had sold over 15 million units across all platforms, a big number for an indie studio.
Now, in 2023, it’s clear the franchise hype remains strong as the new prequel game snags the No. 2 spot behind only Valve’s perennially popular free competitive shooter. The horror title currently has just over 9,000 reviews with an aggregate reception of “very positive.” Furthermore, it’s released in early access state, meaning the game is still in development and intends to transform over its lifetime, so sales could see a long-term spike if the early access period builds big buzz.
Coming in behind “The Outlast Trials” is cooperative first-person shooter “Starship Troopers: Extermination,” snagging the No. 3 spot on the week’s rankings with a price tag of $25. It released a day before Outlast and trails with approximately 8,500 reviews (also “very positive”). It’s worth noting that the Arachnid-exterminating sci-fi game is an early access release.
Free-to-play titles and Valve’s popular “Steam Deck” hardware (a portable, handheld gaming PC) control spots four through six on the top 10 list, with the next paid best-selling game being “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” at No. 7. It’s been on the list since before its launch on Oct. 28, 2022 thanks to pre-orders, making this week its 44th consecutive week on the chart (“Outlast” and “Starship Troopers” have no such history as this is their first week on sale). It maintains its retail price of $70 and solid sales rank despite “mixed” reviews, of which there are roughly 212,000 at present.
Even with “Modern Warfare 2’s” less-than-stellar reception and high price tag, its continued presence on the top 10 list reiterates why Microsoft is so keen to snag Activision, the owner of the “Call of Duty” IP. For context, “Modern Warfare 2” managed $1 billion in sell-through in the first 10 days of its release. That kind of popularity means it’s exceedingly likely to outlast “Outlast” on the charts moving into next week and beyond.
Behind the Activision military shooter is gothic open-world adventure “V Rising” in eighth place. The game, which is in early access, is currently on sale for $16, at a 20% discount from its usual $20, so expect sales volume for this title to fluctuate in future weeks.
Free-to-play mainstays round off the rest of the top 10 list, with cooperative alien ninja simulator “Warframe” and team-based battle royale game “Apex Legends” taking spots nine and10, respectively. Both games sport hundreds of thousands of reviews, long-running dedicated fan bases, and have maintained their spots on Steam’s best sellers list for years thanks to continued investment and updates from their developers.
It’s worth noting that this week, “Star Wars Jedi: Survivor” dropped out of the top 10, falling down four rungs to spot 13. Much like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” it sports a $70 price tag but has nowhere near the gaming brand power of Activision’s genre-defining series. Furthermore, its predominantly “mixed” 26,000 reviews likely aren’t helping, given that a lot of them discuss a topic particularly sensitive to PC gamers: Bad porting.
Nothing earns a PC release worse word of mouth among gamers than when publishers put a game on the platform that’s poorly optimized compared to its console counterparts. A bad port means the game has technical issues such as low frame rates, stuttering, texture pop-in, and other problems that mar the experience. Even with the “Star Wars” name behind it, “Jedi: Survivor” doesn’t look like it’s escaping an unsavory reputation in PC circles thanks to its technical issues.
Two caveats worth noting regarding “Jedi: Survivor” are that it’s a single-player adventure game, meaning it doesn’t have the staying power of a perpetually fresh multiplayer game. As such, its shelf life is shorter and a drop in ranks was expected sooner rather than later, although perhaps not this steeply.
Secondly, it’s an EA game, meaning some PC sales are taking place over on EA’s much smaller online storefront Origin, which doesn’t publicly document statistics like Valve’s Steam does. As such, there’s a margin of error for where “Jedi: Survivor” truly lands, though one shouldn’t assume it’s radically different than Steam’s ranking. After all, EA has attempted multiple times to forgo Steam and sell titles directly to the PC consumer, and has come back to Steam after each attempt, recognizing how heavily Valve’s platform dominates the PC market.