Half-Life just smashed its concurrent players record thanks to a fan campaign

Half Life key art
(Image credit: Valve)

It is the year of our lord 2022, and Half-Life 1 just enjoyed its highest number of concurrent players on Steam since it hit the platform 19 years ago.

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Depending on which Steam stats tracker you're looking at (the numbers are slightly different between SteamDB and the official Steam stats page), Half-Life 1 was being played by anywhere from 12,280 to 12,310 players across the world on the balmy afternoon of August 14. Its previous record was 6022, set during a week when the game was free-to-play in January 2020.

The new record was set by players participating in the #RememberFreeman campaign, organised by the Half-Life community and popularised by Youtubers like Radiation Hazard and Noclick. The purpose of the campaign is honestly quite sweet: to show that Valve's 1998 classic still has a dedicated community of fans that love it. It's a marked contrast from the recent campaign by fans of Team Fortress 2, which was launched out of frustration in order to get Valve to pay attention to an infestation of bots that's plagued the game for years.

The #RememberFreeman campaign is a sequel of sorts to last year's "Breaking the Bar" event, which smashed Half-Life 2's concurrent player record by getting 16,601 people to boot up that game and play for at least half an hour. Personally, I'm hoping that next year we get a quarter of a million people playing Ricochet. We can do it if we just believe.

Of course, this is only the highest number of concurrent players since Steam began keeping these records. Half-Life 1 came out in 1998, imprinted onto unknowable alien relics called compact discs and was, you may recall, quite popular. It's very unlikely that this record is really the most people that have ever played Half-Life 1 at the same time, but it's a pretty impressive achievement for a 24 year-old game nonetheless.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.