Valve has published a 2020 Year in Review blogpost about Steam, and what everyone's been doing with it. It begins by acknowledging the unique circumstances we're all living through, and that these have to be factored into last year's exceptional figures.
"While Steam was already seeing significant growth in 2020 before COVID-19 lockdowns, video game playtime surged when people started staying home, dramatically increasing the number of customers buying and playing games, and hopefully bringing some joy to counter-balance some of the craziness that was 2020," wrote Valve.
The year saw new highs for Steam in every area of user activity: a new high for monthly active users (120.4 million), daily active users (62.6 million), peak concurrent users (24.8 million), first-time purchasers (2.6 million per month), and number of games purchased (21.4 percent increase over 2019).
Valve also pointed out in this developer-focused post that, aside from the big sale events breaking overall revenue generation records, there was a 36 percent increase in games grossing over $100,000 from 2019's Winter Sale to the 2020 equivalent.
VR has its own stats, with game sales up 71 percent year-over-year, with Half-Life: Alyx accounting for 39 percent of that figure. 1.7 million people played a VR game for the first time in 2020, and there were "over 104 million PC VR sessions last year, with each session averaging about 32 minutes, culminating in a 30 percent increase in total playtime." That is 55,466,666 total hours spent in VR (on Steam).
The post mentions PC Gamer's own PC Gaming Show in passing (thanks!), as part of a theme of Valve partnering with a wider range of conferences and conventions thanks to the pandemic. Expect more of this: "We look forward to collaborating with organizations to bring even more community events to life this year through Steam."
The review has an interesting aside about the pandemic's impact on internet traffic, inasmuch as Valve was approached by various governments to see what it could do with Steam to help with increased traffic loads.
"Various countries' government bodies approached us and other large Internet companies to see how we could help mitigate the rise in global traffic that ISPs were seeing, because it was getting to a point where it was affecting people's ability to work from home and their children's remote schooling," wrote Valve. "In response, we made some changes to help manage the bandwidth during work and school hours, and to defer updates to the evenings."
The post ends with some notes about what Steam will be doing in 2021, which includes reiterating a commitment to improving game compatibility for Linux through Steam Play, and the announcement that, with partner Perfect World, Valve will launch Steam China in early 2021. The platform will be "almost entirely independent of Steam." The full 2020 year in review blogpost is here (opens in new tab).