In the almost ten years since the beta release of Steam, the platform has gone from “the thing you have to use to play Counter-Strike” to “probably the most loved form of DRM out there.” That growth is reflected by the peak simultaneous users, which surpassed 5 million this past Monday.
With around 35 million active users, that number isn’t too surprising, especially with the amount just idling for TF2 items, but it isn’t any less incredible. Not counting server down-time, the lowest point is generally around 2.5 million, which is also incredible.
Part of the surge in users is due to the Steam Holiday Gift Grab/Sale, even though it left some users less than satisfied. The sometimes challenging tasks rewarded players with contest entries or free games, forcing users to play great games if they wanted a chance to win. Sales always bring in more players, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
The constant growth is in no small part due to huge titles like Skyrim and Call of Duty: MW3 being released on the platform, with 50 and 35 thousand users respectively, even at 8:30 in the morning. Constant chart toppers like Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source certainly help the figures, with TF2 and Dota 2 not far behind.
With such a strong start to the year, we can only expect more growth as 2012 continues. Games like Bioshock Infinite, Metro: Last Light, and Darksiders II are sure to bring the number even higher. Valve’s upcoming official releases of Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and the ever evasive Half-Life series would only add even more.
For a dying console (just kidding) the PC sure is putting up a good fight with software like Steam. If other software like Desura, GoG, Games for Windows Live, and EA’s Origin make the same kind of progress, PC gaming is going to be extraordinarily strong in another 10 years.