What just happened? Steam has set another milestone after it passed the 30 million concurrent users mark over the weekend. While that's the number of people logged into the service, not all of whom were playing games, it's still an incredibly impressive figure considering Steam only reached 20 million concurrent users in March 2020.
According to the service's own numbers, there were a total of 30,012,957 Steam users online at the same time at around 14:00 UTC on Sunday, October 23, though SteamDB has the figure at 30,032,005. That beats the previous record of 29,986,681, which was set at the end of March 2022.
The new record illustrates how quickly Steam has grown in recent times. It took 12 years after launching in 2003 before the service reached 10 million concurrent users in 2015, but just five more years to hit 20 million. A little over two years later and that record has increased by another 10 million.
The concurrent record covers everyone logged into Steam, including people browsing the store, chatting, etc. SteamDB writes that the number of people actually playing games was 8.5 million at the time the record was set. That's quite an increase from the previous highest number of active players, which was between seven million and eight million earlier in 2022.
The pandemic was one of the biggest factors behind Steam's recent exponential growth in user numbers. It was at the start of the lockdowns in early 2020 when the 20 million concurrent user record was set, the result of much of the world being confined to their homes. We also saw a user explosion in other areas, including streaming services.
Steam repeatedly broke its record every couple of months during the height of the Covid-19 crisis. But unlike other industries currently suffering a post-pandemic hangover, Valve hasn't experienced a decline in user numbers, even in the face of stiff competition from The Epic Games Store and its weekly giveaways (this week: Fallout 3). At this rate, it'll be interesting to see how long it takes Steam to hit 40 million concurrent users.
In related news, the Sims 4 is now free to download and keep from Steam and other platforms.