Steam breaks concurrent player record as gamers stay indoors due to coronavirus

Steam surpassed 20 million concurrent players on the evening of March 15, setting a new record as gamers stay indoors amid concerns over the new coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.

The peak concurrent player count, according to Steam’s official statistics page, was 20,313,476 players. The achievement comes just a day after the gaming platform set the previous record of 19,728,027 players.

Steam hit more than 18.8 million players on February 2, which was then the record concurrent player count, just a few hours before Super Bowl LIV. Steam has been able to maintain its popularity among the gaming community despite the exclusives of its rival, the Epic Games Store.

However, despite the most number of players on Steam ever, in-game players only reached a count of 6.2 million.

The record for most in-game players was nearly 7.2 million, set on January 1, 2018. It appears that a significant percentage of those who helped break the concurrent player record were either browsing through the store, checking their library, or possibly just left Steam running in the background, instead of playing games.

The top game during the record-breaking period was Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with a peak player count of just more than 1 million players, followed by DOTA 2 with about 700,000 players, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds with more than 500,000 players, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege at nearly 200,000 players, and Grand Theft Auto V at more than 170,000 players.

The broken records were attributed to players choosing to stay indoors for the weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a ripple effect throughout the gaming industry. Examples of the outbreak’s impact include the cancellation of E3 2020 and the Game Developer Conference, the shift of the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League from live events to online matches, and supply shortages for Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch.

Valve, the company behind Steam, will benefit from the record player counts, but it has also been affected by the coronavirus. The supply of the Valve Index VR headset has been hit by coronavirus-related issues, though it went back in stock for a limited time earlier this month, just in time for the highly anticipated release of Half-Life: Alyx on March 23.

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