Created by video game developer and publisher Valve, Steam is home to their own incredibly popular titles such as DOTA 2, and Team Fortress 2. The popularity of these games is just one reason why Steam is one of the most used PC game distributors around.
Indeed, Steam accounts for 75% of all PC game sales according to some estimates. With figures like that it's little wonder why hundreds of developers have used Steam to release over 3,000 games (just over 3,700 were available on the platform as of September, 2014).
And plenty of people are actually logged in and playing those games too as the service has now beaten its concurrent user (the amount of users logged in at the same time) record three times in just four days.
The first record break was noted by NeoGAF user fluffydelusions on the 28th of December when Steam had 8,156,455 concurrent users. According to their screenshots, it was Valve's own games DOTA 2 (873,114 concurrent users), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (349,626 concurrent users) and Team Fortress 2 (86,263 concurrent users) which proved the most popular.
Football Manager 2015 (69,977 concurrent users) came in fourth despite only being released in November and Skyrim (57,993 concurrent users) was still strong in fifth although it's over three years old.
As for the other record breaks, on December 29th Blue's News reported a figure of 8,357,541 concurrent users whilst the official Steam stats page lists just over 8.5 million concurrent users at 11:11am (PST) on January 2nd.
The recent spike in figures was likely dud to the Steam holiday sale. Following their famous Steam Summer sale, their Exploration sale and the weekly and daily deals that the service is also known for, the holiday sales event provided even more reasons for users to log on.
In addition to the thousands of discounts that went live from December 18th, 2014 to January 2nd, 2015 there was also the trading card event (whereby voting on a daily deal bagged users a collectible card) and the gems event. Not without its hiccups, Steam's gems event allowed users to sell crafted badges and items (such as wallpapers and chat emoticons) for gems which could in turn be used to bid on games. It essentially meant free games for those who use the service a lot.
It's being suggested that the record breaking amount of users on the last day of the sale could have been down to users logging on to get the best discounts (this is a well known Steam sales purchase tactic). However, with plenty of people having received new computers for Christmas there's a good chance that this growth will be long term.
That's good news for Valve whose platform has weathered recent controversies about Steam Greenlight, region-locking and the overhaul of the layout and so they'll be hoping that this amount of concurrent users can be sustained.