Valve’s Steam platform launched all the way back in 2003. For much of that time, it saw slow and steady growth as it grew from a place where you could buy Half-Life games to the PC’s default gaming marketplace. What has happened over the last two years, though, has been incredible.
In 2015, Steam set a record for concurrent users—the number of individuals logged into the service—at 10 million people. That was 12 years after the service launched.
In 2017, we reported that Steam had set a new record, this time at 14 million. Not bad growth for just two years.
In March 2020, that record had blown out to 20 million. March 2020 is an important point in this timeline; for most countries this is when the pandemic really kicked off, lockdowns began, and a lot more people started spending a lot more time online (and realising that you could play a lot of very good video games on Steam, often for very low prices).
We got to 28 million users earlier this year—more than the entire populations of countries like Australia and Taiwan—and now, in late October, we’ve hit the nice round number of 30 million, with the peak number of users logged on earlier today standing at 30,032,005.
Note that this isn’t the number of people playing at any one time, just the number of people logged into the platform, a feat that’s often achieved simply by turning on your PC. If you want to know the number of users actually in a game at that time, SteamDB figures put the peak at around 8.5 million. That’s still an enormous number, and a big jump (proportionally) even from earlier in 2022, when the highest number of active players stood at “between seven and eight million.”