In context: 2021 is finally drawing to a close. It's been another turbulent year for all of us, and the gaming industry certainly hasn't been immune to the troubles caused by Covid-19 and its newer variants. However, developers still continued to pump out quality titles like Valheim, It Takes Two, and the phenomenal Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Even Amazon's New World proved to be a major hit even in light of its many issues.
Those issues include an unsatisfying roster of end-game content, hardware failure with some high-end GPUs, and tedious questing. Regardless, Valve includes New World in its "Platinum" tier of top sellers based on its gross revenue. When organizing the Top Sellers of 2021 list, Valve accounts for DLC sales, microtransaction revenue, and upfront game purchases and rolls them into one behind-the-scenes metric.
New World is right up there with Steam's other major 2021 success stories, new and ongoing. These include Valheim, Destiny 2, Apex Legends, DOTA 2, and, of course, Valve's own Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Games in the Gold tier include Warframe, Red Dead Redemption 2, Rust, Forza Horizon 5, and 2021 GOTY award winner It Takes Two. Cyberpunk 2077, Monster Hunter World, Civilization 6, and the Mass Effect remastered trilogy all fell into the Silver tier, with Bronze cleaning up the scraps like Dyson Sphere Program, Microsoft's Flight Simulator, and Doom Eternal.
Valve tracks other metrics in its Best of 2021 collection, of course – it lists the top new releases, the best VR games, the best "Controller friendly" games, and, perhaps most interestingly, Steam's "Most Played" games of the year.
Diving into that last category, we're once again seeing a tier-based divide, but instead of Platinum, Gold, and Silver labels, Valve has organized the most played games by their peak players. Starting with games that pulled in over 200,000 peak players in 2021, Halo Infinite and Apex Legends lead the pack, followed by Rust, New World, Cyberpunk 2077, and Valheim.
Games that hit over 100,000 peak players in 2021 include Resident Evil Village, Among Us, Warframe, Naraka Bladepoint, and, surprisingly, Team Fortress 2. Unturned, Stardew Valley, and Total War: Warhammer 2 were all notable successes with over 60,000 peak players. Nioh 2, 7 Days to Die, Company of Heroes 2, and, for some reason, Terraria's "tModLoader" followed behind with over 30,000 players.
2021 wasn't a bad year for games, on or off Steam, but here's hoping 2022 will be even better. The first quarter is looking promising, at least, with major releases like Total War: Warhammer 3 and Elden Ring launching in February.