Steam Breaks The 7 Million Concurrent Users Barrier

By John Walker on December 2nd, 2013 at 8:00 am.

Steam is big. Everyone knows it. If you’re a developer trying to sell digitally, and you’re not on there, you’re missing as much as 80% of the download market. And just to prove how big it is, this weekend Steam saw itself go over the 7 million concurrent users mark for the first time. 7,190,578, spotted VG247. That’s more than the population of Hong Kong.

Obviously this surge is thanks to the Autumn Sale that’s currently happening. But the thing about Steam peaks is they don’t then seem to experience troughs. In January the big news was they’d peaked 5 million.

Even right now, in the early AM of the wrong side of the globe, there 3.7m people logged in, 638k of them currently playing a game. And as VG points out, this is over the biggest console launch of all time. People don’t seem to be being dragged away from their PCs.

Dota 2 is still by far and away the most popular game, peaking at 542,906 simultaneous players over the last 24 hours. Over a half a million people playing one game at one time. CS:GO comes in a distant second with 90k, Skyrim and TF2 just a handful of players apart next at around 70k. Fifth and sixth? I’d never have guessed at Civ V and Foot-to-ball Manager 2014, but there you go. 60k a piece. Garry’s Mod, Counter-Strike, Terraria and Path Of Exile make up the rest. What a fantastically eclectic list, with only three FPS games amongst them. Three indies in there, which is just bloody incredible. And a spreadsheet sim.

Still, it’s such a shame PC gaming is dead, eh?

Photo credit: Nils Öberg

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80 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Why is that train called White Piss?

    Also interested that Terraria is so popular, though I guess if Minecraft were launched from Steam you’d see a lot more people in that list.

    • aepervius says:

      It is almost certainly “white pass” or similar. If you look at the i there is a dot slightly above in white, but nother above in pass. Just in case you were serious.
      ETA: Or scroll down to haplo’s post below which confirm my suspicion with a better picture.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, I was joking, but given that I’m still twelve at heart, I thought I’d post it anyway.

        • The Random One says:

          You just might have sent all Tim Stone fans searching for their train encyclopedias, sweating as they try to figure out the pattern.

    • Neurotic says:

      I was surprised the other day to discover that Terraria has a mobile/tablet version. I wonder how that is? Must be a bugger to control.

      • baby snot says:

        I suspect that like minecraft for mobiles they rig the controls to be playable by anyone not much older then a baby. Or cats.

      • sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

        I tried the demo on Android. Urghh, was a complete bugger to do stuff. Instantly uninstalled. The controls completely put me off the game (not played the PC version).

        • Premium User Badge

          tigerfort says:

          I tried the Android version and found it pretty much unplayable; according to Steam, my PC copy has racked up over 300 hours of play. Definitely a game that works best with keyboard and mouse, although I imagine that a 360 (or similar) controller would still be far better than the touchscreen.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        Waking Mars, similarly a side-scrolling game, worked just fine on a tablet, but I guess it’s less complex than Terraria.

    • waltC says:

      I have absolutely no inkling as to what people see in Minecraft. When I put down Superman comics decades ago I left the Bizarro World behind…;) Never thought about it again until I saw screens from Minecraft–I’ll Pass….!

      But good for Steam, and I think I’ve finally figured out why some people keep insisting that PC gaming “fell off a cliff years ago and is buried in the rubble at the bottom.” They say this because PC gaming is so immeasurably superior to [insert the world ‘console’ or ‘tablet’ here, interchangeably] other kinds of “electronic gaming” that it takes far too much time to describe how much better it is. So, these writers just declare that it is dead so that their own inferior but favored form of “electronic gaming” will appear to have no competition. This usually means they can write their reviews with three words instead of the usual five words they might have to use (and learn) if they wrote the truth about PC gaming. Or, something like that, anyway…;)

  2. Guvornator says:

    Does that train have “White Piss” written on the side of it? If so, why? Is it a passenger service for those with cystitis?

    EDIT Great Minds think alike. And me and Gap Gen as well…

    • Haplo says:

      It’s actually a train on the White Pass route, which is a mountain pass through the Boundary Ranges between British Columbia and Alaska.

      http://www.panoramio.com/photo/38911334 Here’s a… Less auspicious picture.

      Can’t help that number, though…

      • Guvornator says:

        Thanks! Although now I can’t get “White Lines” out of my head…

      • Premium User Badge

        Martel says:

        I thought it was the Skagway train I rode a few years back, and thanks for your link that has been verified. Although I may have to start referring to it as the White Piss train….

  3. SunyiNyufi says:

    I love the fact that Fallout New Vegas, eventhough it came out in 2010 and is full of bugs, is still above a lot of recent AAA titles in the top 100 list.

    • Syra says:

      Funny that, I just started another run through after about a year… it’s such an amazing game and such a crying shame obsidian didn’t get their bonuses on the back of it. Fuck you bethesda!

      • mouton says:

        That’s exactly why I haven’t bought it yet. If I do get myself to finally play it, I will probably just go with the peg-leg option. Stupid Bethesda.

  4. aepervius says:

    “this is over the biggest console launch of all time. People don’t seem to be being dragged away from their PCs.”

    Mr John Walker, what would be those game which would drag people away from their PC; on those new generation console :) ? Knack ? Killing Zone ? They are poor game , and relatively short one from what I was told.

    That trened might change in 6-12 month though. When good game (maybe) will start to come out for Xbox 1 and PS4.

    • The Dark One says:

      Maybe they’re all just patching their PCs through the Xbox’s HDMI input. :P

      • cunningmunki says:

        In lieu of an up-vote or +1 button, please accept my positive and appreciative thoughts.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    PC is going out with a bang.

  6. guygodbois00 says:

    Yes, well, great etc. Still waiting for the Advent Calendar 12.02.2013. though (slow Monday here at office).

    • rei says:

      Some advent calendars start in November, but I’ve never heard of one that starts in February!

  7. wallpaper says:

    Ugh. The 7 million barrier? The speed of sound, that was a barrier. I’m pretty sure 7 million users is just a significant looking decimal.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s not even a power of two!

      • Guvornator says:

        While this is true, it’s interesting that Steam can handle 7 million people all buying and downloading games without too much bother. While obviously the comparisons with, say, the Simcity launch aren’t totally relevent, I suspect this is Valve subtly kicking sand in EA’s face…

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          It’s annoying that EA and Ubisoft have tried to make their own portals rather than integrate with something that already works. Then again, while I like having my games all in one place, there is the issue of Valve abusing a monopoly on digital distribution, even if in practice they’re mostly fairly benign.

          • Ironclad says:

            I applaud ea and ubisoft for trying to make their own portals. More competition is good for consumers and while I do trust the current valve leadership I have no reason to trust whoever will succeed them.

            The fact that ubisoft and especially EA made a complete and utter catastrophe of their portals is a separate issue.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            Granted. I think Valve discussed separating Steam’s game library service from its storefront for those reasons, although I have no idea if this was a “let’s do this… wait, we’d lose money, eh, screw it” moment (or if I’m misremembering something).

          • Guvornator says:

            While I accept the general point of what you’re saying, EA and Ubisoft’s stores are, by their very nature, anti-competition. They only sell the developer’s games, at the developer’s cost. As such, they’re not really operating in the same space as Steam, but in a little walled off area all by themselves.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            I think in practice they’re not really anti-competition – I can’t see Origin or Uplay suppressing the sales of games from other publishers, since I can’t think of anyone who uses them as their primary hub for games. I’ve never heard of any indies complaining they can’t get onto Origin, unlike Steam, and the only time I log into Uplay is via Steam to play Rayman: Legends, so it’s not like Steam where I leave it logged on in case someone wants to message me.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Point of note, Guvornator: both Origin and Uplay sell games made by third-party AAA publishers. I wouldn’t quite call that anti-competitive.

          • Guvornator says:

            Do they? Oh yes! I stand corrected.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Ubisoft is the only storefront that is just there for the heck of it, i feel…after all, Ubisoft sells on Steam too.

            Uplay just feels like another meaningless layer of DRM. (I mean, EA doesn’t sell new games on Steam, so Origin at least has more of a purpose)

          • Apocalypse says:

            “While I accept the general point of what you’re saying, EA and Ubisoft’s stores are, by their very nature, anti-competition. They only sell the developer’s games, at the developer’s cost. As such, they’re not really operating in the same space as Steam, but in a little walled off area all by themselves.”

            Ubisoft does sell games from other publishers on their store as well, you get a decent amount of EA games there ;-)

            http://shop.ubi.com/store/ubiemea/de_AT/search/plat.pcdownload
            Need for Speed and Thief on page 1, sounds like they are trying at least, even when they are still not yet there. As well ubisoft has reduced the amount of DRM in their own games, right now it seems like they really try to offer the steam package via their own frontend. I bet they would even merge with steam if steam goes the open API route. The main problems with uplay seems to be that they lack the money to catch up really to steam, so they are still behind in features and have problematic server stability.

          • DuneTiger says:

            while I do trust the current valve leadership I have no reason to trust whoever will succeed them.

            This. Very much this. Where there is money (blood), there will always be suits (sharks) waiting to take it all for themselves. Right now, Steam and Valve are amazing because of their current leadership. No doubt about it. If, say, when Gabe retires, the next guy is another Kotick, kiss all of it goodbye.

          • Josh W says:

            They’ve been trying quite hard not to hire a Kotick type, and as they have no shareholders asside from Gabe, no-one can force it on them. I’d like to see him sell it to his employees and turn it into a trust when he eventually retires.

        • Premium User Badge

          Nathan says:

          Sony might be a more apt comparison: PSN fell apart under the load of the PS4’s launch in Europe.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      4 billion might have been a barrier, were they using a 32-bit number for their counter. Imagine:
      4294967293
      4294967294
      4294967295
      0
      1…
      The next barrier is at 9 quintillion. :(

    • Stardreamer says:

      Look. They’ve smashed the speed of retail mathematics and that’s all there is to it.

  8. sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

    Euro Truck Simulator 2 is in the list at about 40. I always assumed it was a in-joke about people liking that game. I never assumed it was actually true.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      ETS2 is great! And was only $6 yesterday.

    • Scraphead says:

      I was incredibly surprised when I found out some of my steam friends were not only playing that game, but even buying DLC for it. I also thought it was a running joke that the game is enjoyable.

    • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

      Playing that game with a G27 totally kicks ass!

    • spleendamage says:

      I bought it. I don’t know why. For the moment I assume it was some kind of post-hypnotic trigger activated by the trailer, or perhaps I have consumed too much fluoridated water or maybe my town is being beamed with ELF waves.

  9. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    It must be all those Linux gamers coming on board. :)

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Steam Linux use seems to be *lower* than the overall market share (even if “other” is all Linux) – compare http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/ to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems – so between 0.45% and 1.11% on Steam vs 1.61% overall (no idea what the error is on these numbers, though)

      This perhaps isn’t surprising – gaming support for Linux is still limited, and many Linux users who play games will have a separate Windows machine for that purpose. Plus many Linux machines will be servers or other non-user-facing machines.

      • Apocalypse says:

        Servers are never included in linux desktop numbers. Linux is actually quite heavy in the server market.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems#Servers

      • Premium User Badge

        skalpadda says:

        Linux install base numbers may be a bit higher due to it being more commonly used for things like servers and professional setups (universities, programmers and so on) than on home desktops – machines that may show up in website statistics but aren’t used for games.

        edit: Was that a sneaky edit or am I going blind? :)

      • Premium User Badge

        Hodge says:

        Also, most of the Linux stuff on Steam already existed prior courtesy of the Humble Bundles, so I imagine some Linux people are still playing their Humble versions rather than migrating everything across. That’s what I’m doing, anyway :).

  10. PoLLeNSKi says:

    Just out of curiosity, were there ever figures released for the number of concurrent users of 360 / PS3? It’d be interesting to have a comparison for this to and all I could find was the sales figures for them (@ approx 70million for each) and registered user counts from a few moons ago (14 million each).

    PS4/X1 figures would be nice to know as well, but they’ll mean little this close to their release date.

  11. revan says:

    That’s almost double the population of my country. :)

  12. Wulfram says:

    Where “user” is more or less defined as “person who has their computer on and hasn’t bothered to tell Steam not to start up automatically”

    • Raptaur says:

      Well it might be that people have left the client running when they login, still doesn’t change the fact that another 2 million people are now joining in with this behaviour.

    • Squirly says:

      Every time. Wondered when someone would pop in with that old chestnut. Did you ever consider turning your Steam off?

  13. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Yeah, PC gaming is dead. It might look like it’s still moving, but that is just gas escaping from the corpse.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Some serious vapours. They just launched the corpse across the room.

  14. Alexrd says:

    7 million people have rented their games from Steam. I’m one of those weird people that likes to own the copies that they buy…

    • dE says:

      How’s that fishing Rod of tiresome Flaming +2 working out for you? I see you succesfully attached the bait there.

    • Apocalypse says:

      You never own the copies you buy, you always license software. (With the exception of actually buying the source code and all rights, I know, I know)

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      So you’ve never bought any software, literature, music or movies in your entire life then?

      Nice to know.

      • Alexrd says:

        I do. I merely don’t need permission from someone else to install and play whenever and wherever I want. Those who are dependable of third party servers to install and/or play are just renting their copies.

        • KevinLew says:

          You can say that but there’s millions of people that play Minecraft or DayZ or MMOs on persistent servers and that’s the exact same situation. All of those games require that you have to be online, connect to a server, and technically if the parent company wants to end it all (i.e., shut off the servers) then they can at any time and you’d lose everything.

          My point is, if you’re going to argue that Steam is a bad model, then you’re also saying that any game that has a persistent online world is also equally bad and nobody should play them.

          • Premium User Badge

            Malibu Stacey says:

            if you’re going to argue that Steam is a bad model, then you’re also saying that any game that has a persistent online world is also equally bad and nobody should play them.

            If you’ve ever seen an RPS regular called Vinraith, this is exactly his argument on any article which isn’t 100% a single player game.
            I think he’s just allergic to having fun with other people or something.

        • Premium User Badge

          Malibu Stacey says:

          I think you’ll find you do “need permission from someone else to install and play whenever and wherever I want.” That’s sort of the whole point of what you’ve bought, genius. Otherwise why are you buying them in the first place?

    • DuneTiger says:

      Actually, since the dawn of all software distribution, apps and games alike, you have never ever owned the product. You may physically have a copy on hard media, but if you read that EULA that nobody reads, you have zero ownership of the data. It’s all licensed to you, the end-user, under the EULA. Even freeware, as far as I know, operates under a similar end-user licensing scheme.

  15. Jason Moyer says:

    I wonder if Spacewar is on the list because of people playing it or using it as a means to pirate another game.

  16. SuicideKing says:

    Rome II is interestingly number 11. Heck, even Age of Empires II HD is in the top 30.

  17. Lemming says:

    The most appealing take away from this knowledge is that a single-player game is topping the charts with 70K players long after its release.

  18. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    Stanley Parable at the top of the world… Steam users surprise me.