Steam player count record shows PC gaming growth led by free games

A new concurrent Steam player count record shows the rise of PC gaming is led by free games as more players than ever use Valve client over Thanksgiving weekend

Steam player count record - Queen of Pain from Dota 2, a red demon lady with glowing blue eyes, in front of a graph showing increasing user numbers on Steam

Once again, the concurrent Steam player count record has been broken, with the Thanksgiving weekend in America seeing a new all-time high for simultaneous players logged into the Valve client. It seems PC gaming continues to go from strength to strength, as free games including CS:GO, Dota 2, Warzone 2, PUBG: Battlegrounds, Apex Legends, and Lost Ark top the charts alongside long-time stalwarts such as GTA 5, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Rust.

As winter approaches and things get colder, it appears that gamers are choosing to spend their time inside with their PCs. It’s worth noting, as reported by Eurogamer, that the total number includes idle players – all users who are signed in are counted, regardless of whether they are actually playing a game or not. Nevertheless, the continued climb following multiple new peak records set over the course of 2022 shows how the popularity of PC gaming continues to grow. The record was previously broken twice in October, and shows no signs of slowing as we head towards Christmas.

The official Steam charts overview reports a peak online player count of 31,336,174 on November 26, the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. This was reported at 6am PT / 9am ET / 2pm GMT / 3pm CET, suggesting that the numbers aren’t all coming from the American audience – although it also seems like gamers are eager for some Saturday morning gaming as they switch on their PCs.

Steam tracking site SteamDB reports a slightly higher all-time peak of 31,379,760 at around the same time, and notes that 9.3 million of these were actively playing a game at the time the record was reached. Of the most popular games, it’s worth noting that Modern Warfare 2 – the only game in the top five that isn’t free-to-play – does have a free component thanks to Warzone 2 and its new DMZ mode. However, it’s also the top selling game by total revenue, suggesting that plenty of PC users are spending money on the latest Call of Duty.

It remains to be seen whether the holiday season will herald even higher numbers, but it certainly looks like the climb isn’t set to slow down yet. The Steam autumn sale is currently live until November 29, so there’s lots of opportunities to grab some of the best PC games that money can buy at a discount.