These numbers were calculated thanks to a hole discovered in Valve’s API. This “hole” allowed researchers to generate data from Steam’s games to see how many players there are for the respective titles.
The problem? From what we have gathered, these numbers are generated from games with achievements, covering most of the game’s currently on Steam. What they won’t cover are titles without achievements, such as early access titles or developers who have chosen to opt-out of achievement support. There is also no indication if these numbers include players who purchased the game but have not played it. So, while the numbers may not be “Exact”, it gives us a better representation of the numbers versus Steam Spy or Steam Gauge, who survey a random sampling of players to work out the player-base.
While the entire list of games is long and exhaustive, we will highlight some of the games with the highest, or most interesting, player bases and report them here.
Valve’s own Team Fortress 2 sits at top of the chart with 50,191,347 players. Not surprising to see Team Fortress 2 at the top of the ranks, as the title went free-to-play a couple years ago, and was one of the first games available through Steam. Second to that is Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with a player estimate of 46,305,966 players and it still wildly active on Steam. Other Valve titles include Left 4 Dead 2, with 23,143,723 players, Garry’s Mod at 18,576,379 players, and Counter-Strike: Source at 15,001,876 players.
The first non-Valve title with the biggest player base is none other than PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, holding a player estimate of 36,604,134 players. What is remarkable about this title is that the game was released just last year and is still one of the most-played games on Steam today. Thier success can be attributed to Twitch, with thousands, maybe even millions, of streamers supporting the game in Early Access. Better yet, if we were to attribute those numbers to game sales, based on the current price of the game via Steam, you would have earned more than $1 Billion CDN in sales since it’s release. Of course, there are other factors to hold there, such as Steam sales, but either way, it is safe to assume that the game was successful beyond the development teams belief.
Unturned is the game that holds second place for non-Valve titles, also free-to-play, sitting at 27,381,399 players. 505Games’ Payday 2 holds sixth overall at 18,643,807 players while Warframe, a game just announced for the Nintendo Switch, holds the eighth overall at 16,332,217 players. From what we can see, most of the titles that hold the top 11 slots are free-to-play or titles that released with inexpensive launch prices. The exception to that is Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, sitting at 11th with 13,235,488 players, launching in the Fall of 2011.