Steam is one of the largest digital gaming marketplaces in the world, with more than 30,000 games in its catalog. In many ways, Steam is a proving ground for budding developers, with some games hitting it big with hundreds of thousands of concurrent players, and others that can barely keep a few dozen entertained. We’ve rounded up the 30 most popular Steam games so you don’t waste your time sorting through games with little to no player base.
The games below are in no particular order. Concurrent player counts can shift widely from hour to hour, potentially putting a game that would be in first place into, say, eighth place. Generally, however, the list of the most played Steam games stays static overall. A few titles shift in and out, but most of them are the same, even if their places change during the day. We also didn’t include non-game applications like Wallpaper Engine, a few of which are consistently in the top of the charts.
Even after 17 years, Value games still top the Steam charts. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is consistently in first place, drawing nearly one million players every day. Of course, CS:GO is an e-sports sensation, but Value’s move to a free-to-play model a couple of years back has catapulted the game even higher (before the change, CS: GO drew around half the concurrent players it does now).
Another Valve title, Dota 2 was the reigning champ on Steam for years (it still jumps to the top slot from time to time). Although its concurrent player count has waned in the last few years, Dota 2 still draws well over 500,000 each day, occasionally spiking up to one million.
At its peak, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the most popular game on Steam, and it wasn’t even close. Three years ago, PUBG sustained three million concurrent players every day for multiple months. Despite being one of the best battle royale games, its popularity has slipped in recent years with games like PUBG stealing some players away. Now, it draws around 300,000 players a day.
With most people stuck inside, Among Us was able to shoot to the top of the Steam charts within a matter of weeks. The game is two years old, but it only starting putting up serious player numbers in the last few months. It draws around 200,000 players a day now, though it’s starting to slowly lose some popularity. Still, it remains one of the best iPhone games and best Android games, fit with full cross-platform support.
Rocket League isn’t available on Steam anymore, moving exclusively to the Epic Games Store with a free-to-play model and full cross-platform support. Despite that, it still draws around 100,000 players every day. Although you can’t buy Rocket League off Steam anymore, players who own a copy can continue to play with the same updates issued to the Epic Games Store version.
Grand Theft Auto V is the only game on this list with a defined single-player campaign (turns out it’s one of the best single-player games on PC). That’s not why it’s still so popular, though. Grand Theft Auto V draws around 120,000 players a day on the back of Grand Theft Auto Online, and with updates set to release on PS5 and Xbox Series X, that likely won’t change.
Unlike Among Us and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rainbow Six Siege has had continued growth on Steam since it launched in 2015. After a free weekend on Steam in 2017, the game jumped from around 50,000 players a day to over 100,000. It’s gone up and down, reaching around 200,000 concurrent players earlier this year, but it still hovers around the 100,000 mark.
Like CS:GO, Team Fortress 2 benefited a lot from Valve’s move to a free-to-play model. A tie-in with The Orange Box, the game drew around 20,000 players a day before it went free-to-play in 2011. Almost immediately after, player counts jumped to around 80,000 a day, and although the numbers have had their ups and downs, Team Fortress 2 still draws that many players today.
Rust has enjoyed steady growth since it launched into early access in December 2013, aided in no small part by its frequent inclusion in Humble Bundles. The game peaked earlier this year with around 125,000 players, but now it draws around 70,000 per day. Developer Facepunch Studios actually has two games topping the steam charts, with Rust beating out Garry’s Mod with around twice as many players.
SEGA’s long-running Football Manager franchise has always drawn large crowds on Steam, and Football Manager 2020 is no different. Players often spend hundreds of hours building and managing their soccer team, cementing Football Manager 2020 as one of the best simulator games on Steam. Aided by two free weekends earlier this year, Football Manager 2020 usually draws around 80,000 players a day, though that number has slowly slipped toward 70,000 in the past few weeks.
Destiny 2 has only been on Steam for a little over a year, coming months after Bungie formally split with Activision. As one of the best free FPS games, Destiny 2 drew in close to 300,000 concurrent players when it first launched. Those numbers have dropped quite a bit since then, but Destiny 2 still manages to hook around 70,000 players during its peak hours.
Games-as-a-service titles like Destiny 2 and even Marvel’s Avengers owe a lot to Warframe. Digital Extremes proved that the free-to-play model can work with the game, offering a full AAA experience for free before everyone else was doing it. Warframe has grown steadily since then, moving from around 20,000 players per day to around 60,000.
Dead by Daylight‘s unique asymmetrical multiplayer made it stand out at launch, and although it has seen some competition from Friday the 13th, Dead by Daylight remains the go-to slasher simulator. Unlike games like Destiny 2, Dead by Daylight doesn’t have many peaks in its player count. Earlier this year, it peaked near 80,000 concurrent players, and it still regularly draws 50,000 to 60,000 every day.
ARK: Survival Evolved has seen its fair share of controversies over the years, the most notable of which came in 2016 when developer Studio Wildcard released Scorched Earth — a paid expansion — before the game actually left early access. ARK is out of early access now, and despite its issues, it still brings in huge crowds. The game peaked with over 150,000 concurrent players earlier this year, and now, it draws around 65,000 each day.
Even after seven years, players aren’t sick of robbing banks in Payday 2. Unlike a lot of other games on this list, Payday 2 isn’t popular among streamers. Despite that, the game still boasts around 40,000 players every day. It’s clear Payday 2 has a dedicated core community, but frequent sales and featured in-game bundles have allowed it to continue to stay relevant.
After the disappointing launch of Diablo 3 and its always-online issues, players were looking for another game to scratch the hack-and-slash itch. And that’s what Path of Exile provides to this day. It’s a free-to-play action RPG that never lets its business model get in the way of its gameplay. Regular, free content updates have kept the game relevant over the past seven years, still drawing around 50,000 players each day.
Minecraft is the highest selling game of all time — minus the various forms of Tetris. Although Minecraft isn’t available on Steam, the best games like it are, and Terraria tops that list. The side-scrolling builder has only recently jumped to the top of the Steam charts, moving from a steady 20,000 players per day to around 50,000 per day.
Most of the top Steam games are endless, and it doesn’t get much more endless than Civilization VI. As one of the best strategy games on PC, Civilization VI ropes in around 40,000 players every day, and with a range of DLC currently offering new leaders and civilizations, we don’t expect player numbers to drop any time soon.
Garry’s Mod is one of the oldest games on Steam, joining the ranks of Valve’s offerings in 2006. The Source-driven physics sandbox has remained a staple since then, drawing around 50,000 players per day for the past six years. The numbers have started to drop in recent months, with Garry’s Mod now drawing close to 40,000 players per day, though there are still occasional spikes.
SCS Software specializes in truck simulators, and although American Truck Simulator is the studio’s most recent release, Euro Truck Simulator 2 remains the most popular one. Frequent sales, inclusion in bundles, and a range of DLC have kept the game alive over the past eight years, gathering around 60,000 concurrent players earlier this year. Now, the game draws close to 35,000 players per day.
Paradox Interactive has a knack for crafting grand strategy experiences, with its titles hooking players who just need one more turn. Hearts of Iron IV is the most popular of the bunch, with games like Europa Universalis IV following in the top 50. Although Hearts of Iron IV has shown up in bundles at various retailers — and even had a free weekend in early 2020 — it’s clear that the core fanbase is what keeps the game going. Hearts of Iron IV brings in around 30,000 players each day, which is only slightly less than its peak of 46,000 concurrent players a couple of years ago.
The Wargaming Group specializes in free-to-play war MMOs, and although World of Warplanes and World of Warships still bring in thousands of players, World of Tanks is the studio’s most popular game. The game brings in around 25,000 players per day, occasionally spiking above 30,000.
Monster Hunter: World is an essential co-op experience. Capcom’s iconic franchise has never been accessible, allowing newcomers to team up with series veterans to take down monsters over and over again. The game’s massive Iceborne expansion has certainly helped keep players engaged over the last two years, drawing around 60,000 players every day.
Developer Giants Software releases a new Farming Simulator game every two years, and although we should have seen Farming Simulator 21 by now, we probably won’t see it until next year. Until then, there’s Farming Simulator 19, which has grown steadily since late 2018 to accommodate around 35,000 players on Steam per day.
The Total War franchise’s unique blend of turn-based grand strategy and real-time tactics has always drawn droves of players. However, Total War: Warhammer II remains the most popular game in the franchise on Steam, thanks in no small part to the three free weekends it had in 2020. Although down from its peak of 85,000 concurrent players, around 35,000 boot up Total War: Warhammer II every day.
Although War Thunder is the second war game on this list, it doesn’t actually come from the Wargaming Group. It comes from Gaijin Entertainment, who has continued to support the game since it launched in 2013. Instead of splitting ships, planes, and tanks, War Thunder includes everything under one roof. Even after seven years, War Thunder still maintains a group of around 30,000 concurrent players a day.
Brawlhalla is the cross-platform answer to Super Smash Bros. It’s a free-to-play arena brawler for up to eight players, fit with more than 50 fighters. Although you’ll need to pay to unlock all of them, developer Blue Mammoth swaps new fighters into the free roster constantly, allowing you to try out whatever fighters you want. It’s seen a huge boost in popularity lately, jumping from around 15,000 concurrent players to over 25,000.
Phasmophobia is a newcomer to the Steam charts, released in September 2020 by first-time developer Kinetic Games. It’s a psychological horror game where you and up to three others investigate paranormal activity in houses, an asylum, and more. An onslaught of coverage by Twitch and YouTube personalities shot it to the top of the charts, and unique mechanics — such as voice recognition that lets you speak directly to the ghost — has allowed Phasmophobia to stay there. It’s also really dark.
Although Fall Guys has dropped from the top 10 most played games on Steam, it’s still in the low 20s. The game crosses elements of Super Mario Party, Wipeout, and a battle royale, and its near-immediate rise to fame was in no small part aided by PlayStation Plus (where the game was given away for free). Stream player counts are starting to slip, though we expect them to go back up once developer Mediatonic introduces cross-platform support.
DayZ has seen its fair share of ups and downs since it launched in 2013. The game has climbed as high as 45,000 concurrent players and dropped as low as 2,000. Recent updates have added some stability, with the game drawing around 30,000 daily players.
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