As with the Early Access sales, the answer is yes, having a publisher can certainly help a developer sell more games on Steam.
According to Mike Rose, founder of publisher No More Robots, games that have a publisher will, on average, sell roughly three times more copies, and these sales will also be at a higher retail value. This means a published game, on average, will earn five times the revenue of an independent title.
Steam Publisher Sales Statistics in 2018
- In 2018 the average published game on Steam sold 6,000 copies in its first month (normal average is 2,000)
- In 2018 the average published game on Steam made $61,250 in revenue in its first month (normal average is $12,500)
- In 2018 the average published game on Steam retailed for $15 (normal average is $12)
With these figures, the main thing to bear in mind, of course, is that the publisher will be taking their cut of the sales. This is going to vary greatly depending on the deal that is struck between the developer and the publisher, but obviously, for developers, the aim is to earn more from their cut of sales from a published game than they would if they just went it alone.
Publishers can not only contribute funding but also their marketing know-how and, in the case of respected publishers, the strength of their brand. All of these factors can help a game shift more copies than it otherwise would.
You can see the full video of Mike Rose's GDC talk below, as well as links below to previous articles on Steam sales data.