The last-player-standing shooter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds isn’t just a breakout Early Access hit on Steam — it’s one of that PC gaming community’s most popular games ever. On Saturday, July 15, Battlegrounds hit 382,779 simultaneous players on Steam, which is a new record high for the game. That number is also the fourth highest for peak concurrent players in the history of Steam, which puts it ahead of Grand Theft Auto V‘s all-time high of 360,762 from its launch on PC in April 2015. GTA V is one of the best-selling games ever made, and it continues to sell well due to rereleases and its GTA Online service.
Only Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Fallout 4 have ever had more people playing at one time than PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Valve, which owns and operates Steam, also develops the multiplayer online battle arena Dota 2 and the military shooter Counter-Strike. Those games will likely continue to hold their positions at the top for a while, with nearly 1.3 million peak concurrents for Dota 2 and 850,000 for Counter-Strike. Developer Bluehole’s intense shooter could potentially surpass Bethesda’s sci-fi role-playing game Fallout 4, which set a record for non-Steam games with 471,955 simultaneous players during its launch month of November 2015.
— PLAYERUNKNOWN (@BattleRoyaleMod) July 16, 2017
Having Battlegrounds in the conversation ahead of GTA V and within striking distance of Fallout 4 is mind-boggling for a handful of reasons. GTA V first debuted on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in September 2013. It has finished every year since then in the top-10 best-sellers in the United States, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. Fallout 4 set its record due to intense demand for a new game in Bethesda’s beloved postapocalyptic role-playing series. The publisher also rolled out a huge marketing campaign for Fallout 4, and that resulted in it getting huge player numbers when it hit PC in November 2015.
Battlegrounds, by comparison, is from a tiny South Korean developer that has primarily made free-to-play massively multiplayer online games with a fraction of the audience of GTA V. Bluehole has had success with its fantasy MMO Tera, but it spun up work on Battlegrounds after its Devilian MMORPG stalled. The other side of the equation is Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene, who designed the concept of Battlegrounds first as a mod for the PC military simulator Arma III. Bluehole ringed up Greene, asked him if he would want to make a standalone version, and now that game is dominating the Steam market.
And Battlegrounds is still growing. It debuted in March, but it set its concurrent player record this past weekend. That makes it more like the Valve games at the top of the list as opposed to GTA V and Fallout 4 that had their biggest active audience the month of their release.
Battlegrounds may never catch up to Fallout 4. But it is one of the most important shooters ever made, so it won’t shock me if it does.