Last week Ars Technica released a lengthy article that had accurate Steam player counts for 13,000 games on the platform. This is by no means all of the games on the platform and this leak was thanks to a very specific quirk with the achievement system that has now been closed. However, for a brief moment, we were able to get an incredibly precise representation of how many people have played a particular game.
Before we dive into the numbers for online games, keep in mind that these are based on the number of people who have unlocked particular achievements. This means that it isn’t the count of the number of playing the game right now, it’s looking at the total number of players throughout the game’s time on Steam. The example given in the Ars Technica article is “an Achievement earned by 0.012782207690179348 percent of players on his game translates precisely to 8 players out of 62,587 without any rounding necessary (once some vagaries of floating point representation are ironed out).” So now that we’ve established how it works and that these are lifetime numbers, let's dive into the numbers for a few online games.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 46,305,966 (Launched 2012)
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – 36,604,134 (Launched 2017)
Warframe – 16,332,217 (Launched 2013)
Paladins – 14,371,946 (Launched May 2018)
Robocraft – 10,145,493 (Launched 2017)
These were the top five online multiplayer games by player numbers. It isn’t too much of a surprise that CSGO is on the top because of its popularity and its age combined. PUBG and Warframe are both known hits, so they aren’t much of a surprise either. The two surprises are Paladins and Robocraft.
Paladins is a third-person hero shooter from Hi-Rez, the studio behind Smite. The game had a worldwide launch on Windows, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One on May 8, 2018. You don’t see the game mentioned a whole lot in games media but as of June 2018, the game had an average of 18,000 active players every day. In the first week of its open beta, the game had attracted 800,000 downloads. In a very short amount of time, it has had 14 million players, which is incredibly impressive.
Robocraft is the other big surprise on the top 5 list. It’s an indie game from Freejam Games. In 2017, SteamSpy estimated Robocraft had 13.5 million sales. This number obviously varies greatly from the precise number given in the leak, but the leak seems to be the more accurate of the two. To see an indie title high on the list amongst giants is a testament that anyone can succeed in this industry.
Trove – 7,700,319 (Launched 2015)
APB Reloaded – 5,874,946 (Launched 2010, Relaunched 2011)
DC Universe Online – 2,863,993 (Launched 2011)
Champions Online – 1,691,316 (Launched 2009)
The problem with looking at MMOs and MMORPGs is that more often than not the majority of the player base will be playing not from Steam but from the client or another service. So while it is interesting to look at the numbers for these games, it is in no way an accurate representation of how many players have actually played the game. It also doesn’t include games that aren’t on Steam like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2, for obvious reasons. Other MMOs that are on Steam also aren’t on the list at all, like Final Fantasy XIV which doesn’t have achievements you can earn on Steam for the game.
Still, we have seen many MMOs that at one point in time looked like they were on the decline bounce back just by being put on Steam. Because of course, there are many, many gamers who won’t play a game if it isn’t on Steam.
Next Day: Survival – 260,661 (Launched May 2018)
PixARK – 256,179 (Early Access March 2018)
SOS – 248,224 (Early Access January 2018)
Royal Quest – 240,272 (Launched 2015)
Skipping down to the bottom of the list it’s no surprise to see it filled mostly with older titles. The one exception to this is Royal Quest, an MMORPG developed by Katauri Interactive and 1C Online Games. The game has been on Steam since 2014 and yet in the 4 years, it has been online only gathered 240,272 players on the platform. The game is also available on ARC and a stand-alone client, so once again Steam doesn’t tell the complete story.
SOS is a brand new Battle Royale game that just went free to play in June. However, reviews are overwhelmingly negative. Only 9% of Steam reviews of the game in the last 30 days have been positive. This largely seems to be down to the fact that they recently changed directions and turned it into a battle royale game, angering the player base in the process. The game has only had 55 concurrent players on Steam in the last 24 hours. Needless to say, things aren’t looking too go for the game right now.
PixARK is one of several Ark Survival Evolved spinoffs currently on the market. It’s currently in Early Access, but it has mixed reviews. It has also been on a steep decline in concurrent players since April. Today the peak was at 594 players. Reasons for people liking and disliking the game are varied so, unlike SOS it’s difficult to pin this down on any one thing.
Next Day: Survival there isn’t really a whole lot to say about. It recently left Early Access and it has mixed reviews on Steam. The number of players at the peak of a given month seems to fluctuate up and down. It has several modes, which of course includes the big favorite right now, Battle Royale.
We don’t often get the opportunity to talk about Steam and actual, real player numbers so an opportunity like this has given us some interesting insight. If you’d like to know more about the games on this list head over to Ars Technica who have laid it all out. Steam has said that there will be a tool in the future that is more accurate than SteamSpy was, however details on if the public will have access to it are currently unknown.