The Steam player count has reached new heights over the weekend, with nearly 25 million concurrent users online.
Steam has been long since been the lead platform for PC gaming, both for playing and shopping. As more and more players shift to playing games on their computers, Steam has seen a steady growth in users and players.
How Steam revolutionized PC gaming
Steam is one of the global leaders in PC gaming right now, earning its spot by being one of the first game retailers to serve PC gamers at home. When Steam released in 2003 it was initially meant to serve as an online hub where Valve could release streamlined updates to their games and prevent cheating and piracy.
Back in 2003, Steam didn’t seem to go further than Valve’s own games, and the thought that it might one day become the main online storefront for PC gaming likely never even crossed their minds. Steam functioned more as a way for Valve to enact a degree of quality control over their products, especially multiplayer games where updates could cause major delays as players downloaded them manually in their own time.
However, step by step the steady iteration on what Steam was shifted it to being more and more of a store and less of a unified client for Valve games. New games, new content, new features, sales, genres, search functionality, and more all helped carefully mold Steam into the internet behemoth it is today.
As Steam improved, more players jumped on board
By late 2010, better internet became more widely available to people, allowing Steam to become a big enough digital storefront to compete with physical retailers. Around this time, smaller games began to release purely digital products, and even if Steam wasn’t the only place to buy them, it was often the easiest.
Valve’s client allowed players easy access to their favorite games without ever leaving their house, a service many people were happy to get on board with. This sort of organic expansion and natural development led to Steam ultimately becoming big enough to not only dwarf physical retailers but also inspire competitors in the digital realm as well.
The current digital landscape available to players, with multiple competing clients like the Epic Games Store, GOG, itch.io, EA’s Origin Store, Uplay, and Battle.net each followed in the pathways blazed by Steam.