Valve have announced the latest stats about Steam's performance in 2009. If I were to plot them on a graph they would go off the top of the paper and I'd have to draw on the desk. Which would leave no room for a title. And my graph would be marked down. Steam now has over 25 million users. Which is a 25% increase over the year. Which means Gabe Newell's throne made of diamonds is now 25% sparklier. And all in the week when GoG.com founder, Marcin Iwiński, called Steam "malware".
10 million of the accounts have Steam profiles, which indicates a more dedicated use than having been forced to download it for a particular game (Modern Warfare 2 didn't exactly sell out on PC, but it can't have hurt Steam's figures). It also indicates a dedicated hardcore PC gaming player-base of a minimum of 10 million. Which is significant.
Here's some more fun numbers. Steam at one point during the last year had more than 2.5m concurrent users, which when converted in the nonsense of "player minutes" makes more than 13 billion per month.
While they still won't reveal any useful data about sales, which is frankly just tiresome at this point, they report that unit sales increased by more than 205% over the last year. This of course doesn't directly translate to increased profit, as 2009 was the year of the Valve Sale.
These big numbers come in light of remarks by Good Old Games founder, Marcin Iwiński, where he described Steam as "malware". Discussing the ineffective nature of DRM he spoke about his experiences with Modern Warfare 2 to Polish website Polygamia.pl.
"I was personally affected when I bought Modern Warfare 2. The installation (through Steam) took almost two days and only then I could sit down and play it. Then, when I uninstalled it from Steam, I tried to delete Steam itself. It turned out that there is no "Uninstall?" option in the Steam directory, and when I tried to do it through Add/Remove, I faced a message that I have no Administrative privileges (sic!). Fortunately, I managed to uninstall it thanks to a clever program called Total Uninstall, which effectively deletes leftover files from badly written programs. After such experience, it's hard to be positively inclined towards DRM. One would want to buy a new game (for lots of money, by the way), install it and start playing normally, not be forced to do various different things and install various malware that cannot be normally removed. ;)"
We approached Valve for comment regarding this quote, but they chose not to respond.
Valve intend to expand Steam further throughout 2010, and hopefully we'll see a more effective roll-out of features like Steam Cloud. (In an optional form!) Newell offers his thoughts at the end of the announcement:
"Steam turned five years old in March 2009. With the introduction of each new platform feature released over the years -- such as the Steam Community, Steam Cloud, and Steamworks -- we've seen corresponding growth in account numbers, concurrent player numbers and developer support for the platform. As such, we plan to continue to expand and grow the platform to better serve the developers supporting the open platform and millions of gamers logging in each day."