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Despite everything, Payday 3 and Cities Skylines 2 sell big on Steam

Payday 3 and Cities Skylines 2 had seriously rocky launches but both games have still made it onto Steam's 2023 best sellers list.

A clown mask wearing robber with a hostage in front of some night-time city streets.

Payday 3 launched just a few months ago and it didn’t go well. Server problems meant that purchasers were unable to play this heist game, which lacked any kind of offline mode. City-builder Cities: Skylines 2 also ran into technical problems, resulting in a similarly rocky launch. And yet, both games have sold well enough to make it on Steam’s 2023 list of top sellers.

Steam has unveiled its best selling games of 2023, revealing that two initially wobbly games have managed to sell big, despite any refunds from disgruntled players. Payday 3, Starbreeze’s heist-based multiplayer game was, for some, virtually unplayable.

Starbreeze scrambled to fix the issues, but the proposed patch ended up being pushed back. It hasn’t helped that the game can’t be played offline, and the game lost 90% of its players. According to SteamDB, Payday 2 currently has around 28,000 players online, while Payday 3 has a meagre 1,000.

Despite this, Payday 3 appears in Steam’s 2023 Best of 2023 bronze category, as one of the platform’s top revenue earners. The list doesn’t reveal how or if its figures dipped post-launch but I suspect a lot of those sales were pre-orders.

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Cities: Skylines 2 pops up in the list’s silver tier, another big earner although, in this case, the game can be played offline. This game’s problems instead stemmed from technical issues.

Even before launch, developer Colossal Order was warning Cities: Skyline 2 purchasers to expect the game’s performance to be sub-par. There have been various patches post-launch but just when you thought Colossal Order was clawing back some goodwill, its CEO declared that it “just might not be for you,” in response to feedback. He later apologised but it was still one hell of a statement.

It seems that both games have, in the short term at least, done well for their respective publishers and developers. But what was Steam’s biggest seller this year? Let’s say it together.. “Baldur’s Ga…”, wait, what?

No, surprisingly Baldur’s Gate 3 wasn’t Steam’s biggest earner, though it was in the top Platinum category. Steam’s ‘gross revenue’ includes not only the game’s purchase price but any DLC and any in-game transactions.

An image showing the top six earning games on Steam.

So, the game that generated the most gross revenue was the free-to-play multiplayer FPS PubG Battlegrounds, followed by Counter-Strike 2. Of the top six, only one, Sons of the Forest, is not free to play.

Both Payday 3 and Cities: Skylines 2 are discounted in Steam’s Winter Sale, by 25% and 10% respectively. If you plan on plunging into the former, here’s how to open Payday 3’s vaults in stealth mode. And here are the best games in Steam’s Winter Sale.

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