In a thread on NeoGAF, attention was drawn to the peak on Sunday, bringing with it the importance of the number. Previously, the record for the simultaneous connections went to the 2013 winter sale. As a Gamespot poster indicated, the peak on December 26 broke 7.5 million. Polygon reports 7 million users were online at once in early December. User growth has gone up year after year for the gaming platform as stated at the Steam Dev Days business update presentation earlier in the year. In 2011, the service had a total of 44 million 90-day active accounts. That number rose to 75 million in 2013, measuring accounts that were active in the community or own a product. A study from Ars Technica indicates that the overall user count is much greater, coming in at closer to 172 million in its count of Steam community pages.
Valve’s Steam distribution service continues to grow and grow, putting to bed eternal rumors about the pending death of PC gaming. In January, Valve revealed that they had 75 million active Steam user accounts, and now at the end of their 2014 summer sale, they’ve just broken a record regarding how many of those users are online at once. Tracking Steam’s stats reveals that at peak hours yesterday, Steam crossed the 8 million active user mark for the first time, 8,020,552 users, to be exact. Previous records included 7.5 million near Christmas 2013 and 7 million earlier in December. And it hit 6 million for the first time back in November 2012. Steam’s growth is impressive, if not expected for anyone familiar with the industry. Steam has far and away become the gold standard for game distribution, a balance of pleasing both players and game makers. Similar services like EA’s Origin and Ubisoft’s Uplay have struggled to win the hearts of players given their often unfriendly interfaces and issues with overly restrictive DRM. And above all else, any game that players can purchase on Origin or Uplay, they usually wish they could just buy on Steam instead. Similarly, consoles would love to adopt Steam’s all-digital distribution method, cutting out the middleman of Gamestop for retail sales, but so far, console players have pushed back against that notion. The fear is that if Microsoft or Sony attempted to emulate that model, they’ll simply keep prices high offering little financial benefit to the consumer. Though there are sales and free games offered through both PS Plus and Xbox Live, nothing compares to the sort of massive discounts we see with something like Steam’s Summer Sale, the reason for this concurrent user spike.