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What factors predict the success of a Steam game? (An analysis)

What factors predict the success of a Steam game?

I've seen quite a few discussions, comments and questions on /gamedev about what determines a game's success. How much does quality matter? Is establishing market awareness before launch the only thing that matters? Does a demo help or hurt? If your game has a poor launch, how likely is it to recover? Is it possible to roughly predict the sales of a game before launch?
In preparation for my game's launch, I spent a lot of time monitoring upcoming releases trying to find the answer to these questions. I compiled a spreadsheet, noted followers, whether it was Early Access or not, and saw how many reviews it received in the first week, month and quarter.
I'm sharing this data now in the hopes that it helps other developers understand and predict their games' sales.
First some notes on the data:
Game Price Launch Discount Week Guess Week actual 3 Month 3 Month/week Followers Early Access Demo Review Score
Pit of Doom 9.99 0 7 27 43 1.592592593 295 Y N 0.8
Citrouille 9.99 0.2 16 8 12 1.5 226 N N
Corspe Party: Book 14.99 0.1 32 40 79 1.975 1015 N N 0.95
Call of Cthulhu 44.99 0 800 875 1595 1.822857143 26600 N N 0.74
On Space 0.99 0.4 0 0 0 4 N N
Orphan 14.99 0 50 0 8 732 N N
Black Bird 19.99 0 20 13 34 2.615384615 227 N N
Gloom 6.99 0 20 8 17 2.125 159 N N
Gilded Rails 5.99 0.35 2 3 7 2.333333333 11 N Y
The Quiet Man 14.99 0.1 120 207 296 1.429951691 5596 N N 0.31
KartKraft 19.99 0.1 150 90 223 2.477777778 7691 Y N 0.84
The Other Half 7.99 0 2 3 27 9 91 N Y 0.86
Parabolus 14.99 0.15 0 0 0 16 N Y
Yet Another Tower Defense 1.99 0.4 20 22 38 1.727272727 396 N N 0.65
Galaxy Squad 9.99 0.25 8 42 5.25 3741 Y N 0.87
Swords and Soldiers 2 14.99 0.1 65 36 63 1.75 1742 N N 0.84
SpitKiss 2.99 0 3 1 2 2 63 N N
Holy Potatoes 14.99 0 24 11 22 2 617 N N 0.7
Kursk 29.99 0.15 90 62 98 1.580645161 2394 N N 0.57
SimpleRockets 2 14.99 0.15 90 142 272 1.915492958 3441 Y N 0.85
Egress 14.99 0.15 160 44 75 1.704545455 7304 Y N 0.67
Kynseed 9.99 0 600 128 237 1.8515625 12984 Y N 0.86
11-11 Memories 29.99 0 30 10 69 6.9 767 N N 0.96
Rage in Peace 12.99 0.1 15 10 42 4.2 377 N N 0.85
One Hour One Life 19.99 0 12 153 708 4.62745098 573 N N 0.81
Optica 9.99 0 0 2 3 1.5 18 N N
Cybarian 5.99 0.15 8 4 18 4.5 225 N N
Zeon 25 3.99 0.3 3 11 12 1.090909091 82 Y N
Of Gods and Men 7.99 0.4 3 10 18 1.8 111 N Y
Welcome to Princeland 4.99 0.1 1 15 55 3.666666667 30 N N 0.85
Zero Caliber VR 24.99 0.1 100 169 420 2.485207101 5569 Y N 0.73
HellSign 14.99 0 100 131 334 2.549618321 3360 Y N 0.85
Thief Simulator 19.99 0.15 400 622 1867 3.001607717 10670 N N 0.81
Last Stanza 7.99 0.1 8 2 4 2 228 N Y
Evil Bank Manager 11.99 0.1 106 460 4.339622642 8147 Y N 0.78
Oppai Puzzle 0.99 0.3 36 93 2.583333333 54 N N 0.92
Hexen Hegemony 9.99 0.15 3 1 5 5 55 Y N
Blokin 2.99 0 0 0 0 0 10 N N
Light Fairytale Ep 1 9.99 0.1 80 23 54 2.347826087 4694 Y N 0.89
The Last Sphinx 2.99 0.1 0 0 1 0 17 N N
Glassteroids 9.99 0.2 0 0 0 0 5 Y N
Hitman 2 59.99 0 2000 2653 3677 1.385978138 52226 N N 0.88
Golf Peaks 4.99 0.1 1 8 25 3.125 46 N N 1
Sipho 13.99 0 24 5 14 2.8 665 Y N
Distraint 2 8.99 0.1 40 104 321 3.086538462 1799 N N 0.97
Healing Harem 12.99 0.1 24 10 15 1.5 605 N N
Spark Five 2.99 0.3 0 0 0 0 7 N N
Bad Dream: Fever 9.99 0.2 30 78 134 1.717948718 907 N N 0.72
Underworld Ascendant 29.99 0.15 200 216 288 1.333333333 8870 N N 0.34
Reentry 19.99 0.15 8 24 78 3.25 202 Y N 0.95
Zvezda 5.99 0 2 0 0 0 25 Y Y
Space Gladiator 2.99 0 0 1 2 2 5 N N
Bad North 14.99 0.1 500 360 739 2.052777778 15908 N N 0.8
Sanctus Mortem 9.99 0.15 3 3 3 1 84 N Y
The Occluder 1.99 0.2 1 1 1 1 13 N N
Dark Fantasy: Jigsaw 2.99 0.2 1 9 36 4 32 N N 0.91
Farming Simulator 19 34.99 0 1500 3895 5759 1.478562259 37478 N N 0.76
Don't Forget Our Esports Dream 14.99 0.13 3 16 22 1.375 150 N N 1
Space Toads Mayhem 3.99 0.15 1 2 3 1.5 18 N N
Cattle Call 11.99 0.1 10 19 53 2.789473684 250 Y N 0.71
Ralf 9.99 0.2 0 0 2 0 6 N N
Elite Archery 0.99 0.4 0 2 3 1.5 5 Y N
Evidence of Life 4.99 0 0 2 4 2 10 N N
Trinity VR 4.99 0 2 8 15 1.875 61 N N
Quiet as a Stone 9.99 0.1 1 1 4 4 42 N N
Overdungeon 14.99 0 3 86 572 6.651162791 77 Y N 0.91
Protocol 24.99 0.15 60 41 117 2.853658537 1764 N N 0.68
Scraper: First Strike 29.99 0 3 3 15 5 69 N N
Experiment Gone Rogue 16.99 0 1 1 5 5 27 Y N
Emerald Shores 9.99 0.2 0 1 2 2 12 N N
Age of Civilizations II 4.99 0 600 1109 2733 2.464382326 18568 N N 0.82
Dereliction 4.99 0 0 0 0 #DIV/0! 18 N N
Poopy Philosophy 0.99 0 0 6 10 1.666666667 6 N N
NOCE 17.99 0.1 1 3 4 1.333333333 35 N N
Qu-tros 2.99 0.4 0 3 7 2.333333333 4 N N
Mosaics Galore. Challenging Journey 4.99 0.2 1 1 8 8 14 N N
Zquirrels Jump 2.99 0.4 0 1 4 4 9 N N
Dark Siders III 59.99 0 2400 1721 2708 1.573503777 85498 N N 0.67
R-Type Dimensions Ex 14.99 0.2 10 48 64 1.333333333 278 N N 0.92
Artifact 19.99 0 7000 9700 16584 1.709690722 140000 N N 0.53
Crimson Keep 14.99 0.15 20 5 6 1.2 367 N N
Rival Megagun 14.99 0 35 26 31 1.192307692 818 N N
Santa's Workshop 1.99 0.1 3 1 1 1 8 N N
Hentai Shadow 1.99 0.3 2 12 6 14 N N
Ricky Runner 12.99 0.3 3 6 13 2.166666667 66 Y N 0.87
Pro Fishing Simulator 39.99 0.15 24 20 19 0.95 609 N N 0.22
Broken Reality 14.99 0.1 60 58 138 2.379310345 1313 N Y 0.98
Rapture Rejects 19.99 0 200 82 151 1.841463415 9250 Y N 0.64
Lost Cave 19.99 0 3 8 11 1.375 43 Y N
Epic Battle Fantasy 5 14.99 0 300 395 896 2.26835443 4236 N N 0.97
Ride 3 49.99 0 75 161 371 2.304347826 1951 N N 0.74
Escape Doodland 9.99 0.2 25 16 19 1.1875 1542 N N
Hillbilly Apocalypse 5.99 0.1 0 1 2 2 8 N N
X4 49.99 0 1500 2638 4303 1.63115997 38152 N N 0.7
Splotches 9.99 0.15 0 2 1 0.5 10 N N
Above the Fold 13.99 0.15 5 2 6 3 65 Y N
The Seven Chambers 12.99 0.3 3 0 0 #DIV/0! 55 N N
Terminal Conflict 29.99 0 5 4 11 2.75 125 Y N
Just Cause 4 59.99 0 2400 2083 3500 1.680268843 50000 N N 0.34
Grapple Force Rena 14.99 0 11 12 29 2.416666667 321 N Y
Beholder 2 14.99 0.1 479 950 1.983298539 16000 N N 0.84
Blueprint Word 1.99 0 12 15 1.25 244 N Y
Aeon of Sands 19.99 0.1 20 12 25 2.083333333 320 N N
Oakwood 4.99 0.1 32 68 2.125 70 N N 0.82
Endhall 4.99 0 4 22 42 1.909090909 79 N N 0.84
Dr. Cares - Family Practice 12.99 0.25 6 3 8 2.666666667 39 N N
Treasure Hunter 16.99 0.15 200 196 252 1.285714286 4835 N N 0.6
Forex Trading 1.99 0.4 7 10 14 1.4 209 N N
Ancient Frontier 14.99 0 24 5 16 3.2 389 N N
Fear the Night 14.99 0.25 25 201 440 2.189054726 835 Y N 0.65
Subterraneus 12.99 0.1 4 0 3 #DIV/0! 82 N N
Starcom: Nexus 14.99 0.15 53 119 2.245283019 1140 Y N 0.93
Subject 264 14.99 0.2 25 2 3 1.5 800 N N
Gris 16.9 0 100 1484 4650 3.133423181 5779 N N 0.96
Exiled to the Void 7.99 0.3 9 4 11 2.75 84 Y N
Column Explanations
For the columns that are not self-explanatory:

Question 1: Does Quality Predict Success?

There was a recent blog post stating that the #1 metric for indie games' success is how good it is.
Quality is obviously a subjective metric. The most obvious objective measure of quality for Steam games is their % Favorable Review score. This is the percentage of reviews by purchasers of the game that gave the game a positive rating. I excluded any game that did not have at least 20 user reviews in the first month, which limited the sample size to 56.
The (Pearson) correlation of a game's review score to its number of reviews three months after its release was -0.2. But 0.2 (plus or minus) isn't a very strong correlation at all. More importantly, Pearson correlation can be swayed if the data contains some big outliers. Looking at the actual games, we can see that the difference is an artifact of an outlier. Literally. Valve's Artifact by far had the most reviews after three months and had one of the lowest review scores (53% at the time). Removing this game from the data changed the correlation to essentially zero.
Spearman's Rho, an alternative correlation model that correlates rank position and minimizes the effect of huge outliers produced a similar result.
Conclusion: If there is correlation between a game's quality (as measured by Steam review score) and first quarter sales (as measured by total review count), it is too subtle to be detected in this data.

Question 2: Do Demos, Early Access or Launch Discounts Affect Success/Failure?

Unfortunately, there were so few games that had demos prior to release (10) that only a very strong correlation would really tell us anything. As it happens, there was no meaningful correlation one way or another.
There were more Early Access titles (28), but again the correlation was too small to be meaningful.
More than half the titles had a launch week discount and there was actually a moderate negative correlation of -0.3 between having a launch discount and first week review count. However it appears that this is primarily the result of the tendency of AAA titles (which sell the most copies) to not do launch discounts. Removing the titles that likely grossed over a $1 million in the first week reduced the correlation to basically zero.
Conclusion: Insufficient data. No clear correlation between demos, Early Access or launch discount and review counts: if they help or hurt the effect is not consistent enough to be seen here.

Question 3: Does pre-launch awareness (i.e., Steam followers) predict success?

You can see the number of "followers" for any game on Steam by searching for its automatically-created Community Group. Prior to launch, this is a good rough indicator of market awareness.
The correlation between group followers shortly before launch and review count at 3 months was 0.89. That's a very strong positive correlation. The rank correlation was also high (0.85) suggesting that this wasn't the result of a few highly anticipated games.
Save for a single outlier (discussed later), the ratio of 3 month review counts to pre-launch followers ranged from 0 (for the handful of games that never received any reviews) to 1.8, with a median value of 0.1. If you have 1000 followers just prior to launch, then at the end of the first quarter you should expect "about" 100 reviews.
One thing I noticed was that there were a few games that had follower counts that seemed too high compared to secondary indicators of market awareness, such as discussion forum threads and Twitter engagement. After some investigation I came to the conclusion that pre-launch key activations are treated as followers by Steam. If a game gave away a lot of Steam keys before launch (say as Kickstarter rewards or part of beta testing) this would cause the game to appear to have more followers than it had gained "organically."
Conclusion: Organic followers prior to launch are a strong predictor of a game's eventual success.

Question 4: What about price?

The correlation between price and review count at 3 month is 0.36, which is moderate correlation. I'm not sure how useful that data point is: it is somewhat obvious that higher budget games have larger marketing budgets.
There is a correlation between price and review score of -0.41. It seems likely that players do factor price into their reviews and a game priced at $60 has a higher bar to clear to earn a thumbs up review than a game priced at $10.

Question 5: Do first week sales predict first quarter results?

The correlation between number of reviews after 1 week and number of reviews after 3 months was 0.99. The Spearman correlation was 0.97. This is the highest correlation I found in the data.
Excluding games that sold very few copies (fewer than 5 reviews after the first week), most games had around twice as many reviews after 3 months as they did after 1 week. This suggests that games sell about as many copies in their first week as they do in the next 12 weeks combined. The vast majority of games had a tail ratio (ratio of reviews at 3 months to 1 week) of between 1.3 to 3.2.
I have seen a number of questions from developers whose game had a poor launch on Steam and wanted to know what they can do to improve sales. While I'm certain post-launch marketing can have an effect on continuing sales, your first week does seem to set hard bounds on your results.
Conclusion: ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES

Question 6: Does Quality Help with a Game's "Tail"?

As discussed in the last question while first week sales are very strongly correlated with first quarter, there's still quite a wide range of ratios. Defining a game's Tail Ratio as the ratio of reviews after 3 months to after 1 week, the lowest value was 0.95 for "Pro Fishing Simulator" which actually managed to lose 1 review. The highest ratio was 6.9, an extreme outlier that I'll talk about later. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the worst tail had a Steam score of 22% and the best tail had a Steam score of 96%.
The overall correlation between the Tail Ratio and Steam score was 0.42.
Conclusion: Even though there is no clear correlation between quality and overall review count/sales, there is a moderate correlation between a game's review score and its tail. This suggests that "good games" do better in the long run than "bad games," but the effect is small compared to the more important factor of pre-launch awareness.

Question 7: Is it possible to predict a game's success before launch without knowing its wishlists?

While I was compiling the data for each game, sometime prior to its scheduled launch date, I would make a prediction of how many reviews I thought it would receive in its first week and add that prediction to the spreadsheet.
The #1 factor I used in making my prediction was group follower count. In some cases I would adjust my prediction if I thought that value was off, using secondary sources such as Steam forum activity and Twitter engagement.
The correlation between my guess and the actual value was 0.96, which is a very strong correlation. As you can see in the data, the predictions are, for the most part, in the right ballpack with a few cases where I was way off.
Based on my experience, multiplying the group follower count by 0.1 will, in most cases, give you a ballpark sense of the first week quarter review count. If a game doesn't have at least one question in the discussion forum for every 100 followers, that may indicate that there are large number of "inorganic" followers and you may need to adjust your estimate.
Conclusion: Yes, with a few exceptions, using follower data and other indicators you can predict first week results approximately. Given the strong correlation between first week and quarter sales, it should also be possible to have a ballpark idea of first quarter results before launch.

Final Question: What about the outliers you mentioned?

There were a few games in the data that stood out significantly in one way or another.
Outlier #1: Overdungeon. This game had 77 group followers shortly before launch, a fairly small number and based solely on that number I would have expected fewer than a dozen reviews in the first week. It ended up with 86. Not only that, it had a strong tail and finished its first quarter with 572 reviews. This was by a wide margin the highest review count to follower ratio in the sample.
Based on the reviews, it appears to basically be Slay the Spire, but huge in Asia. 90% of the reviews seem to be in Japanese or Chinese. If anyone has some insight to this game's unusual apparent success, I'm very curious.
This seems to be the only clear example in the data of a game with minimal following prior to launch going on to having a solid first quarter.
Outlier #2: 11-11 Memories Retold. This game had 767 group followers shortly before launch, ten times as many as Overdungeon. That's still not a large number for even a small indie title. It had a fair amount going for it, though: it was directed by Yoan Fanise, who co-directed the critally acclaimed Valiant Hearts, a game with a similar theme. It was animated by Aardman Studios of "Wallace and Gromit" fame. Its publisher was Bandai Namco Europe, a not inexperienced publisher. The voice acting was by Sebastian Koch and Elijah Wood. It has dozens of good reviews in both gaming and traditional press. It currently has a 95% positive review rating on Steam.
Despite all that, nobody bought it. 24 hours after it came out it had literally zero reviews on Steam. One week after it came out it had just 10. Three months later it had demonstrated the largest tail in the data, but even then it had only climbed to 69 reviews. Now it's at about 100, an incredible tail ratio, but almost certainly a commercial failure.
This is a solid example that good game + good production values does necessarily equal good sales.

Final notes:
The big take-aways from this analysis are:
Thanks for reading!
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[Hire Me] "I increased conversions by 10% by hiring a $15/hr writer!" - said no one ever.

Hi, TheWriterMan here! 👋 I am a freelance content writer with a background in content marketing and business management. I've been writing for four years now and during my time working as a full-time writer I’ve done almost every kind of writing imaginable in the digital age.
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I've also worked as the narrative designer on a number of indie video games. Send me a PM or email for samples.
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The best way to reach me is through email. (I do not use Reddit chat).
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I'd be happy to answer any questions at (I love to talk about my writing process).
[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) (or hop on a call with me if you prefer that).
Thank you for reading. I look forward to working with you.
Cheers!
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A lot of my work in tech/SaaS niches has been as a ghostwriter. Send me a PM or email for published links.
Video Games
I've also worked as the narrative designer on a number of indie video games. Send me a PM or email for samples.
Health
(pm for more on construction, storylines, scripts, advertising, home improvement, etc).
Let's talk business!
The best way to reach me is through email. (I do not use Reddit chat).
You can also get in touch with me with a simple contact form here.
I'd be happy to answer any questions at (I love to talk about my writing process).
[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) (or hop on a call with me if you prefer that).
Thank you for reading. I look forward to working with you.
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US Venezuela Policy is About Oligarchy, Not Democracy

US Venezuela Policy is About Oligarchy, Not Democracy

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the LARGEST in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels.
While ignoring (and even supporting) the atrocities of authoritarian regimes in places like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, US oligarchs have targeted Venezuela for “regime-change” in the name of “democracy”.
Currently, the US is engaging in economic warfare against Venezuela to foment a coup and remove its democratically elected president Nicolás Maduro.
Without providing solid evidence, our corporate-controlled government and mainstream media portray Maduro as a corrupt, repressive, and illegitimate leader with little to no support.

Ask yourself:

Do I ever see officials from the Venezuelan government appear in corporate news shows to tell THEIR side of the story?
What people DO get to comment on Venezuela and what are their credentials and agenda? Are these people essentially public relations agents for the US-orchestrated coup?
Does corporate news provide me with historical background of US imperialism in Venezuela to put these current events in context?

What Corporate-Controlled Media will NOT Tell You

The CIA was involved in the failed coup against Venezuela's popular leader Hugo Chavez in 2002.
Venezuela is not a strictly socialist country; it has a “mixed” economy - not unlike Norway or other Scandinavian countries.
Venezuela is a DEMOCRACY - unlike US-allies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
In 2012, Jimmy Carter went on record saying:
“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”
The opposition to Maduro knew they were going to lose the last election and so boycotted it in attempt to delegitimize the results.
The US actually tried to dissuade Maduro’s opponents from running!
Maduro invited international observers into the country in 2018 to monitor the last election but the opposition asked the UN not to send observers!
More than 80% of the Venezuelan population had not even HEARD of Juan Guaidó before Trump and the US state proclaimed him the “rightful” president.
Maduro’s approval ratings within his country are on par with opposition-controlled National Assembly. According to an October poll by opposition-aligned pollster Datanalisis, Venezuela's National Assembly, of which Juan Guaidó is president, has a disapproval rating of 70%.
Venezuela WANTS to sell its oil to the US – the US is their largest market and refines a majority of their oil.
US companies Chevron Corp, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Weatherford International all have operations in Venezuela, and are allowed to continue to engage in transactions and activities with PDVSA and its joint ventures through July 27.
“No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.” Organization of American States Charter

Why is the US Corporatocracy so Keen to Remove Maduro?

While Venezuela’s economy is not a strictly-state-run economy, its oil industry is nationalized and uses its revenues for the benefit of its citizens (especially the poor).
After years of crippling US sanctions Maduro stepped over a crucial line in October when his government announced that Venezuela was abandoning the US dollar and would be make all future transactions on the Venezuelan exchange market in euro.
Saddam Hussein also went off the dollar in favor of the euro in 2003 – we started dropping bombs on him the next month.
A similar decision by the Gadhafi government in Libya (2011) was quickly followed by a devastating US-orchestrated conflict - culminating in Gadhafi's capture by radical Islamists who sodomized him with a bayonet before killing him. Since then, Libya has gone from Africa's wealthiest country to a truly failed-state complete with a slave trade! To make matters worse, after the collapse of the Libyan government, its military arms were smuggled out of that country and into the hands of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria - enabling US-orchestrated chaos in those countries.

Who cares what currency a country uses to trade petroleum?

Answer: US oligarchy

The US dollar is central to US world economic domination.
Like all other modern currencies, it is a fiat currency – backed by no real assets to prop up its value.
In lieu of a “gold standard” we know operate on a de-facto “oil-standard”:
"After the collapse of the Bretton Woods gold standard in the early 1970s, the United States struck a deal with Saudi Arabia to standardize oil prices in dollar terms. Through this deal, the petrodollar system was born, along with a paradigm shift away from pegged exchanged rates and gold-backed currencies to non-backed, floating rate regimes.
The petrodollar system elevated the U.S. dollar to the world's reserve currency and, through this status, the United States enjoys persistent trade deficits and is a global economic hegemony." Investopedia
“The central banking Ponzi scheme requires an ever-increasing base of demand and the immediate silencing of those who would threaten its existence. Perhaps that is what the hurry [was] in removing Gaddafi in particular and those who might have been sympathetic to his monetary idea.” Anthony Wile

US Foreign Policy is about Oligarchy Not Democracy

Since World War II, the US has attempted to over-throw the 52 foreign governments. Aside from a handful of exceptions (China, Cuba, Vietnam, etc.), the US has been successful in the vast majority of these attempts.
US foreign policy is not about democracy – it is about exploiting the world’s resources in the interests of a small, ultra-wealthy global elite.
This exploitation benefits a small percentage of people at the top of the economic pyramid while the costs are born by those at the bottom.

US CIA Coup Playbook:

How to Plunder Resources from Foreign Countries While Pretending to Support Democracy
  1. Find a country with resources you want.
  2. Send in an “Economic Hitman” to offer bribes the country’s leader in the form of personally lucrative business deals. If he accepts the deal, the leader will amass a personal fortune in exchange for "privatizing” the resources you wish to extract.
If the leader will not accept your bribes, begin the regime-change process.
3) Engage in economic warfare by imposing crippling sanctions on the country and blame the ensuing shortages on the leader’s “socialist” policies.
4) Work with right-wing allies inside country to fund and organize an “astroturf” opposition group behind a corporate-friendly puppet.
5) Hire thugs inside country to incite unrest and violence against the government in coordination with your opposition group. Use corporate media to publicize the orchestrated outbursts as popular outrage and paint a picture of a “failed state” mired in corruption and chaos.
6) When the government arrests your thugs, decry the response as the brutal repression. Use corporate-owned media to demonize the target government as a despotic regime while praising your puppet opposition as champions of democracy.
7) Work with right-wing military leaders to organize the overthrow the government (offer them the same business deals the current leader refused).
8) If a military-led coup cannot be organized, create a mercenary army to carry out acts of terrorism against the government and its supporters. Portray the mercenaries as “freedom fighters” and their acts of terrorism as a “civil war”.
9) If the target government has popular and military support and is too well-defended for your mercenaries to over-throw: label the country a “rouge state” and wait for the right time to invade. Meanwhile, continue to wear the country’s government and populace down using steps 3 – 8.
10) Escalate the terror campaign within the country to provoke a military response from the country against the US. If they won’t take the bait , fabricate an attack or threat that you can sell to the US population as justification for an invasion.
11) Once the government is removed, set up your puppet regime to provide the illusion of sovereignty. The regime will facilitate and legitimize your appropriation of the country’s resources under the guise of "free" trade.
12) As you continue to extract the country’s resources, provide intelligence and military support to the puppet regime to suppress popular dissent within the country.
13) Use the demise of the former government as yet another example of the impracticality of “socialism.”
What Can I Do?
Call your senators and representatives to voice your opposition to US regime-change efforts in Venezuela.
https://www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative/
Please share this message with others.
Sources included at: https://link.medium.com/8DiA5xzx4T

‘Venezuela’: Media’s One-Word Rebuttal to the Threat of Socialism

ALAN MACLEOD FEBRUARY 8, 2019
A recent Gallup poll (8/13/18) found that a majority of millennials view socialism favorably, preferring it to capitalism. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States, while new leftist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) policies of higher taxes on the wealthy, free healthcare and public college tuition are highly popular—even among Republican voters (FAIR.org,1/23/19).
Alarmed by the growing threat of progressive policies at home, the establishment has found a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide: Venezuela. The trick is to attack any political figure or movement even remotely on the left by claiming they wish to turn the country into a “socialist wasteland” (Fox News, 2/2/19) run by a corrupt dictatorship, leaving its people hungry and devastated.
Leading the charge have been Fox News and other conservative outlets. One Fox opinion piece (1/25/19) claimed that Americans should be “absolutely disgusted” by the “fraud” of Bernie Sanders and Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, as they “continue to promote a system that is causing mass starvation and the collapse of a country,” warning that is exactly what their failed socialist policies would bring to the US. (Back in the real world, while Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez identify as socialists, Warren is a self-described capitalist, and Booker is noted for his ties to Wall Street, whose support for his presidential bid he has reportedly been soliciting.) A second Fox Newsarticle (1/27/19) continues in the same vein, warning that, “At the heart of Venezuela’s collapse is a laundry list of socialist policies that have decimated its economy.”
The Wall Street Journal (1/28/19) describes calls for negotiations in Venezuela as “siding with the dictator.”
In an article entitled “Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and the Starving Children of Venezuela,” the Washington Examiner (6/15/17) warned its readers to “beware the socialist utopia,” describing it as a dystopia where children go hungry thanks to socialism. The Wall Street Journal (1/28/19) recently condemned Sanders for his support of a “dictator,” despite the fact Bernie has strongly criticized Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and dismissed Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, as a “dead Communist dictator” (Reuters, 6/1/16).
More supposedly centrist publications have continued this line of attack. The New York Times’ Bret Stephens (1/25/19) argued: “Venezuela is a socialist catastrophe. In the age of AOC, the lesson must be learned again”—namely, that “socialism never works,” as “20 years of socialism” has led to “the ruin of a nation.” The Miami Herald(2/1/19) cast shame on Sanders and AOC for arguing for socialism in the face of such overwhelming evidence against it, describing the left’s refusal to back self-appointed president Juan Guaidó, someone whom less than 20 percent of Venezuelans had even heard of, let alone voted for, as “morally repugnant.”
This useful weapon to be used against the left can only be sustained by withholding a great number of key facts—chief among them, the US role in Venezuela’s devastation. US sanctions, according to the Venezuelan opposition’s economics czar, are responsible for a halving of the country’s oil output (FAIR.org, 12/17/18). The UN Human Rights Council has formally condemned the US and discussed reparations to be paid, with one UN special rapporteur describing Trump’s sanctions as a possible “crime against humanity” (London Independent, 1/26/19). This has not been reported by any the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or any other national US “resistance” news outlet, which have been only too quick to support Trump’s regime change plans (FAIR.org, 1/25/19).
Likewise, the local US-backed opposition’s role in the economic crisis is barely mentioned. The opposition, which controls much of the country’s food supply, has officially accepted responsibility for conducting an “economic war” by withholding food and other key goods.
For example, the monolithic Empresas Polar controls the majority of the flour production and distribution crucial for making arepa cornbread, Venezuela’s staple food. Polar’s chair is Leopoldo Lopez, national coordinator of Juan Guaidó’s Popular Will party, while its president is Lorenzo Mendoza, who considered running for president against Maduro in the 2018 elections that caused pandemonium in the media (FAIR.org, 5/23/18).
Conspicuously, it’s the products that Polar has a near-monopoly in that are often in shortest supply. This is hardly a secret, but never mentioned in the copious stories (CNN, 5/14/14, Bloomberg, 3/16/17, Washington Post, 5/22/17, NPR, 4/7/17) focusing on bread lines in the country.
Also rarely commented on was the fact that multiple international election observer missions declared the 2018 elections free and fair, and that Venezuelan government spending as a proportion of GDP (often considered a barometer of socialism) is actually lower than the US’s, and far lower than most of Europe’s, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The London Daily Express (2/3/19) demonstrates that redbaiting works equally well on either side of the Atlantic.
Regardless of these bothersome facts, the media has continued to present Venezuela’s supposedly socialist dictatorship as solely responsible for its crisis as a warning to any progressives who get the wrong idea. So useful is this tool that it is being used to attack progressive movements around the world. The Daily Express (2/3/19) and Daily Mail (2/3/19) condemned UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for his “defense” of a “dictator,” while the Daily Telegraph(2/3/19) warned that the catastrophe of Venezuela is Labour’s blueprint for Britain. Meanwhile, the Greek leftist party Syriza’s support for Maduro (the official position of three-quarters of UN member states) was condemned as “shameful” (London Independent, 1/29/19).
“Venezuela” is also used as a one-word response to shut down debate and counter any progressive idea or thought. While the panel on ABC’s The View (7/23/18) discussed progressive legislation like Medicare for All and immigration reform, conservative regular Meghan McCain responding by invoking Venezuela: “They’re starving to death” she explained, leaving the other panelists bemused.
President Trump has also used it. In response to criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren over his “Pocahontas” jibe, he replied that she would “make our country into Venezuela” (Reuters, 10/15/18).
The weapon’s effectiveness can only be sustained through a media in lockstep with the government’s regime-change goals. That the media is fixated on the travails of a relatively small and unimportant country in America’s “backyard,” and that the picture of Venezuela is so shallow, is not a mistake. Rather, the simplistic narrative of a socialist dictatorship starving its own people provides great utility as a weapon for the establishment to beat back the domestic “threat” of socialism, by associating movements and figures such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jeremy Corbyn with an evil caricature they have carefully crafted.

Corporate Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President: MSM Will Not Let Facts Interfere With Coup Agenda

Facts Don’t Interfere With Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President Joe Emersberger
Guaidó, anointed by Trump and a new Iraq-style Coalition of the Willing, did not even run in Venezuela’s May 2018 presidential election. In fact, shortly before the election, Guaidó was not even mentioned by the opposition-aligned pollster Datanálisis when it published approval ratings of various prominent opposition leaders. Henri Falcón, who actually did run in the election (defying US threats against him) was claimed by the pollster to basically be in a statistical tie for most popular among them. It is remarkable to see the Western media dismiss this election as “fraudulent,” without even attempting to show that it was “stolen“ from Falcón. Perhaps that’s because it so clearly wasn’t stolen.
Graph: Approval Ratings of Main Venezuelan Leaders Nov 2016 - July 2018 Data from the opposition-aligned pollsters in Venezuela (via Torino Capital) indicates that Henri Falcón was the most popular of the major opposition figures at the time of the May 2018 presidential election. Nicolás Maduro won the election due to widespread opposition boycotting and votes drawn by another opposition candidate, Javier Bertucci.
The constitutional argument that Trump and his accomplices have used to “recognize” Guaidó rests on the preposterous claim that Maduro has “abandoned” the presidency by soundly beating Falcón in the election. Caracas-based journalist Lucas Koerner took apart that argument in more detail.
What about the McClatchy-owned Miami Herald's claim that Maduro “continues to reject international aid”? In November 2018, following a public appeal by Maduro, the UN did authorize emergency aid for Venezuela. It was even reported by Reuters (11/26/18), whose headlines have often broadcast the news agency’s contempt for Maduro’s government.
It’s not unusual for Western media to ignore facts they have themselves reported when a major “propaganda blitz” by Washington is underway against a government. For example, it was generally reported accurately in 1998 that UN weapons inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq ahead of air strikes ordered by Bill Clinton, not expelled by Iraq’s government. But by 2002, it became a staple of pro-war propaganda that Iraq had expelled weapons inspectors (Extra! Update, 10/02).
And, incidentally, when a Venezuelan NGO requested aid from the UN-linked Global Fund in 2017, it was turned down. Setting aside how effective foreign aid is at all (the example of Haiti hardly makes a great case for it), it is supposed to be distributed based on relative need, not based on how badly the US government wants somebody overthrown.
But the potential for “aid” to alleviate Venezuela’s crisis is negligible compared to the destructive impact of US economic sanctions. Near the end of the Miami Herald article, author Jim Wyss cited an estimate from the thoroughly demonized Venezuelan government that US sanctions have cost it $30 billion, with no time period specified for that estimate. Again, this calls to mind the run-up to the Iraq invasion, when completely factual statements that Iraq had no WMDs were attributed to the discredited Iraqi government. Quoting Iraqi denials supposedly balanced the lies spread in the media by US officials like John Bolton, who now leads the charge to overthrow Maduro. Wyss could have cited economists independent of the Maduro government on the impact of US sanctions—like US economist Mark Weisbrot, or the emphatically anti-Maduro Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez.
Illegal US sanctions were first imposed in 2015 under a fraudulent “state of emergency” declared by Obama, and subsequently extended by Trump. The revenue lost to Venezuela’s government due to US economic sanctions since August 2017, when the impact became very easy to quantify, is by now well over $6 billion. That’s enormous in an economy that was only able to import about $11 billion of goods in 2018, and needs about $2 billion per year in medicines. Trump’s “recognition” of Guaidó as “interim president” was the pretext for making the already devastating sanctions much worse. Last month, Francisco Rodríguez revised his projection for the change in Venezuela’s real GDP in 2019, from an 11 percent contraction to 26 percent, after the intensified sanctions were announced.
The $20 million in US “aid” that Wyss is outraged Maduro won’t let in is a rounding error compared to the billions already lost from Trump’s sanctions.
Former US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield, who pressed for more sanctions on Venezuela, dispensed with the standard “humanitarian” cover that US officials have offered for them (Intercept, 2/10/19):
And if we can do something that will bring that end quicker, we probably should do it, but we should do it understanding that it’s going to have an impact on millions and millions of people who are already having great difficulty finding enough to eat, getting themselves cured when they get sick, or finding clothes to put on their children before they go off to school. We don’t get to do this and pretend as though it has no impact there. We have to make the hard decision—the desired outcome justifies this fairly severe punishment.
How does this gruesome candor get missed by reporters like Wyss, and go unreported in his article?
Speaking of “severe punishment,” if the names John Bolton and Elliott Abrams don’t immediately call to mind the punishment they should be receiving for crimes against humanity, it illustrates how well the Western propaganda system functions. Bolton, a prime facilitator of the Iraq War, recently suggested that Maduro could be sent to a US-run torture camp in Cuba. Abrams played a key role in keeping US support flowing to mass murderers and torturers in Central America during the 1980s. Also significant that Abrams, brought in by Trump to help oust Maduro, used “humanitarian aid” as cover to supply weapons to the US-backed Contra terrorists in Nicaragua.
In the Miami Herald article, the use of US “aid” for military purposes is presented as another allegation made by the vilified Venezuelan president: “Maduro has repeatedly said the aid is cover for a military invasion and has ordered his armed forces not to let it in, even as food and medicine shortages sweep the country.”
Venezuela Accuses U.S. of Secretly Shipping Arms After Weapons Found on Plane with Possible CIA Ties | Democracy Now!
Calling for international aid and being democratically elected will do as little to protect Maduro’s government from US aggression as being disarmed of WMD did to prevent Iraq from being invaded—unless there is much more pushback from the US public against a lethal propaganda system.

When Is a Democracy not a Democracy? When It’s Venezuela and the US is Pushing Regime Change. Venezuela has as much right to call itself a democracy as does the United States. Until that is understood by enough people, the Trump administration will continue to devastate Venezuela’s economy with illegal sanctions and push it towards civil war.
Suggested Reading:
UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Cause Death in Venezuela
Guaido is playing it fast and loose with the Bolivarian Constitution to justify a dictatorship
Trump’s Economic Sanctions Have Cost Venezuela About $6bn Since August 2017
How could Venezuela's president 'steal' the 2018 election from an unknown who didn't run?
In other news...
The Largest Protest Ever Was 15 Years Ago. The Iraq War Isn’t Over. What Happened?
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