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.
WE DID IT!🏆🎉🥳 #RememberFreeman 12,280 Half-Life players!New all-time peak player record for Half-Life on Steam pic.twitter.com/Up1bxAruQRAugust 14, 2022
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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab). 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.