Steam has broken its prior records, and today on Sunday, October 23rd has hit a total of 30,012,957 users online at the same time. This is courtesy of Steam's own charts (opens in new tab), though SteamDB (opens in new tab) scores a bit higher: 30,032,005.
That's roughly the population of Ghana, the 48th most populous country in the world.
Steam has been rising for a long time, but exponentially so since 2020, when Covid lockdowns spiked numbers in big waves. While it's impossible to tell without a thorough study, those gaming habits have stuck with some far longer than might be expected. Steam's rapid growth in recent years far outstrips its past growth: For comparison, it took 14 years for Steam to grow to a 15 million concurrent user peak in 2017, but only 5 years for the next 15 million.
Back in January 2021 Steam broke past the 25 million mark following a year of spikes and new records. At the time I swore off writing more stories about Steam records, we'd been writing them all year and I was sick of it. It wasn't news anymore, just a given. "With this barrier cracked, it seems like Steam's numerical exploits are becoming more 'inevitability' than 'news.' I'll get back to you when Steam reaches something like 30 million players," I said. (opens in new tab)
True to my word, here I am. We're at 30 million after another (opens in new tab) few (opens in new tab) years (opens in new tab) of (opens in new tab) growing highs. (All reported by my colleagues, I note. If I sound sanctimonious that's because I am, and you would be too if you remembered to do that.)
And, well, there you have it. A remarkable new high for a section of our hobby.