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SteamProphet is an experiment where participants regularly test their assumptions about video games released on Steam.
The idea is directly inspired by the "Superforecasters" project, a group of people who try get less worse at predicting things by applying scientific principles. People try to make predictions about upcoming games, and then check back about whether they were right. SteamProphet is a project that generates surprises -- and surprises are an opportunity to learn.
Who are you?
My name's Lars Doucet. I helped make a game called Defender's Quest, and I blog a lot about the design and business of game development.
What's the point?
Hindsight is blinding. After a game is released, it's easy to say, "well of course X performed like that, because (insert favorite pet theory)." Not only does this kind of punditry suffer from hindsight bias, it also suffers from survivorship bias because these kind of statements are usually only made about whatever random assortment of games happen to bubble across someone's attention.
But what would happen if you looked at all the new releases and had to commit to your predictions in advance? Would you still be so confident in what you think you know about how the market works? Is it actually true, as some proclaim, that 'all "good" games will always succeed?' (Implying that games that don't meet some arbitrary metric failed to do so because they are somehow "bad")
Let's find out. Make a quantifiable, testable, falsifiable prediction, and then check back to see if you were right. And if you're surprised by the result, great! It's an opportunity to learn something new.
Who is this for?
Anybody. It's primarily aimed at game developers, but anyone who has an interest is welcome to participate, either through regularly testing their own predictions, or by merely observing. I believe new developers will learn the most, but we have found that even veterans have sharpened a few skills.
When I first started out as a small developer, I was completely lost at sea. I didn't even know what questions to ask. Almost nobody shared sales results, and it seemed you needed to "know somebody" to get information or help. This experiment is a way to train business intelligence muscles in developers of all shapes and sizes, in an engaging way people are likely to stick with. It's also a way for developers to connect with one another and share information that helps us all survive. It's not magic and won't make you a business genius or anything, and the data it generates is far from infallible (especially if it's not interpreted correctly), but it can help you tell which way the wind is blowing in the unruly storms of the Steam marketplace.