If you build it — and then deeply discount everything on it for a week every summer — they will come.
Valve just finished the big summer sale on its digital-distribution network for PC games, and the service had more than 8 million gamers signed in at once yesterday (as spotted by a member of the NeoGAF message boards). This is a new milestone for Steam. Valve’s digital store has tens of millions of customers, and it is growing faster than ever as more people turn to the PC to get their games.
At around noon Pacific time yesterday, Steam had 8,020,813 people all logged in at the same time. This means that around one in 10 Steam gamers signed into the network yesterday.
In January, Valve revealed that it had 75 million active users on Steam. That was a jump of 10 million from October, when the company noted it had 65 million. It’s likely that the company has added millions of additional gamers since.
Steam crossed 6 million concurrent gamers in November 2012. More than a year later, in December, it crossed 7 million. Now, only six months later, it has reached 8 million. This suggests that Steam is growing faster than it ever has before as it blows past milestones at a more rapid rate.
Valve’s Steam is the biggest PC gaming service in the world. Many gamers on the Windows platform treat it as the standard, and they judge all other platforms against it. Since the success of Steam, other publishers like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft have introduced their own stores. EA has even pulled its biggest games off of Steam to force gamers to its Origin service.
While many love Steam, some have started to voice concerns with Valve’s policies — particularly relating to the unfinished Early Access games that developers sell on Steam. People can purchase access to games before they are finished, and Valve and the developers can make money even if the game is broken or never gets finished.
Valve is also using Steam to build a new platform alternative to Windows. SteamOS is an open-source operating system that runs on Linux. The company has voiced concerns that Microsoft will try to close its grip on the Windows ecosystem, and Valve wants an alternative. This has it also planning to introduce console-like Steam Machine PCs later this year or early next year.