There Are Over 125 Million Steam Accounts

There Are Over 125 Million Steam Accounts

Valve announced today that there are now over 125 million active Steam accounts. It’s a marketing brag, yeah, but it’s also a figure worth looking at.

The PC market was, for a very long time, a shadowy, nebulous thing. It was almost impossible to track down just how many people were playing games on the system, where they were playing and what they were like.

Now that Steam is as close to a universal platform as we’re ever going to get on PC, though, we can get very, very close (especially since Steam likes to track your purchases and demographics so keenly). And that number — 125 million — is enormous.

In case you’re having trouble conceptualising a figure that big, here, let me help you.

There are an estimated 126 million people in Japan. 121 million in Mexico. Germany “only” has 80 million, the United Kingdom struggles along with 65 million, and Australia somehow functions as a state with just 23 million citizens. Imagine if every single person in Japan, from the tiniest baby to the oldest old folk, was actively using Steam and buying games off it.

If real-world comparisons aren’t doing it for you, how about this: only two video game consoles in history have sold more than 125 million units, those being the PS2 and Nintendo DS.

So the next time you wonder why so many games these days go straight to PC, not even bothering with consoles or handhelds, here’s a big reason why. Sure, it’s easier to launch a game on PC, but there’s also the fact you’re selling to one of the biggest gaming markets on the planet.


  • So the next time you wonder why so many games these days go straight to PC, not even bothering with consoles or handhelds, here’s a big reason why. Sure, it’s easier to launch a game on PC, but there’s also the fact you’re selling to one of the biggest gaming markets on the planet.

    Or in Rockstar’s case: not

      • i truely believe the only reason why we havent had red dead on PC would be the horse riding mechanics and rockstart probably cant figure out a way to make it work on pc ( poor excuse on my part i know)

        • 90% of pc gamers these days have a 360 controller handy for those games that are poorly optimised for mouse and keyboard anyway,

          • I imagine that’s true, I’ve considered buying one myself for that reason in the past, however I still have yet to play a game (and I’ve played over 300 on PC) that isn’t already perfect with keyboard/mouse. Devil May Cry 3 excepted, that was a bitch playing with a keyboard!

  • I feel like it’s a bit of a bad comparison. Steam is free, everybody has a computer and you can spend literally $10 per year on games for it. It’s a bit like saying iPhone is a superior gaming platform to develop for just because there are a million billion iPhones out there. I’m not saying PC development is bad but trying to directly compare it to something like the PS4 or XBOX One with these sorts of numbers is a bit flawed.
    Sure a huge install base is a great thing to have, but with Steam comes problems. For instance the Steam sales have driven home the idea that only idiots pay more than $25 for games. Steam specifically is flooded with releases making it very hard to get people playing without investing heavily in out of store advertisements. A lot of money is being spent and a lot of people are playing games via Steam, but getting your share of that action is harder than developers would prefer.

    • It’s a good comparison. Those points (free, everyone has computer) are why it can reach these numbers (although note a computer is more expensive than a console).

      It doesn’t say anything whatsoever about “superior gaming platform to develop for”! Don’t add your own meaning.

      The reason iPhones aren’t compared here is because they don’t play the same games as consoles and PCs.

      • They directly compare it to consoles with the DS and PS2 in order to give it a sense of scale. Those reasons mean that direct comparison to the DS and PS2, particularly the DS which has a slew of other reasons for reaching that number, gives a warped view of the size of the group. They’re obviously not saying ‘visualise everyone who ever brought a PS2’ because that’s just as hard as visualising the 125 million people they’re talking about. So they’re sayign ‘remember how popular the PS2 was, that gives you an idea of how big Steam is’.
        I’m not taking sides here, Steam is great and I’ve got a powerful PC, I’m just saying it’s not a great example. The only way it’s a good comparision is if you ditch the numbers and say ‘remember how much the PS2 and NDS dominated console and handheld markets? That’s how much Steam dominates the home computer market’.

        The author also states that this is a big reason why developers choose to develop for the PC and skip consoles. They’re saying one of the major reasons they believe PC developers choose the platform is the large install base. It’s certainly a factor but there are many more reasons and the Steam install base doesn’t rank that highly outside of shovelware circles.

        • I think it still suits the purpose of getting your head around a sale.

          The PS2 was ubiquitous, sure. For whatever reasons. The point is more, if you can conceive of how many had a PS2, then just think of those same people as also having a Steam account. Regardless of whether they just did it to accept a humble bundle key or to try out some free games or because they didn’t want to use an email address associated with an old username or blahblahetc. It’s a useful way of getting your head around something. I think the final para was more of a throwaway than anything else.

    • What comparison are you trying to talk about?

      The article is saying this is as close to a realistic population number for PC gamers globally as we are likely to get. Would you like to read it again?

    • Yeah I wonder how many of those accounts paid for only one game or never paid for one game or are hardly ever used.

      If a console is sold it’s money in the companies pocket no matter how much it’s used. The consumer really thinks about that purchase. Whereas I’ll install steam to just check it out

      But I also do like the comparison 🙂

  • Not sure it’s particularly useful for much, especially since consoles are a form factor, not really a platform.
    Eg. The Xbox is a windows machine with a different front end (always has been)

    Also add the fact that people can use steam on consoles themselves- means the only logical takeaway is that since it came out- a lot of people have signed up for an account. Anything more than that is speculative in nature.

  • I’ve got about 15 Steam Accounts (short version: it’s because I’m fickle with my account names and Steam won’t let you change it), so it’s really only 124,999,985 accounts. That figure is far less sexy.

  • Why does Steam still charge Australian prices in $US? Someone is skimming to cream off the milk. Steam may not set the prices, but they still choose the currency of charge.

    • Publishers.
      It’s not Valve’s decision, it’s the publisher who decides what price to charge in which region. Steam is full of games which aren’t being charged the ‘Australia tax’.

      Not all of the publishers overcharge us, and – confusingly – of the ones who do, they don’t even do it with all of their games. Bizarrely for a handful of games, the best price available is the Australian one.

      This hints at a complicated market, and a less-than-uniform response to it by publishers, especially thanks to whether a game can expect to have a significant brick-and-mortar retail market, in which case retailers come into play as demanding that publishers keep digital prices on par with physical media (which attracts extra costs from physical shipping and paying someone to stand around waiting to sell it, especially at Australia’s much higher minimum wage), under the threat of no longer selling that publisher’s goods at all. And despite the rising popularity of digital, physical retail’s still too big a market for a publisher to risk having retailers pull out from under them. Especially not when all that retailers are asking is that publishers charge more money for digital. That’s kind of win:win for them.

      So all of that’s pretty complicated and there’s also undoubtedly more to it along the lines of predicting product tails… But in general? If you want to know the broadest strokes reason why some games on Steam are more expensive in Australia, I’m still pretty much a fan of my original theory, which is: ‘publishers are fucking assholes who can’t be trusted and don’t deserve even a shred of respect.’
      It works for most situations.

  • Three of them are mine, so humble bundle duplicates don’t go to waste… and so my kids can use them when they get a bit older..

  • I wonder how many are genuine accounts though? Take away fake ones, hacker ones, take away dupe ones people have… ones that are set up to try to sell other steam users crap… probably still be over 100m but it’s really getting polluted.

  • Steam is a great platform because it caters for:

    1) Casual gamers who have a handful of games, or even just indulge in free games (like my GF, who only has 1 Steam game, FC Blood Dragon), or people who buy games on sale ‘in case’ they get a better PC some day. (I know more than one stockpiler like this). And even people who just want Steam for the community/ to chat with their friends who have Steam.

    2) The hardcore gamers who not only have hundreds of games but actually play them too.

    I’d be interested to know how many of each type there are actually, other wise the number doesn’t really mean all that much IMHO.

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