The final estimates for Steam sales for 2015 are finally in. And while there are a few games at the top of the lists that won't surprise anyone, it's warm to see some of the other figures scattered throughout the top 10.
The Steam Spy service offers a pretty exhaustive breakdown of figures and historical data, although some quirks like free weekends, free-to-play games, 24 hour giveaways and the like can occasionally skew figures. And it's worth remembering that games like War Thunder, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, StarCraft 2, World of Tanks, Minecraft, Star Citizen and other games have large audiences that aren't tracked through Steam. (Games like Elite: Dangerous also come to mind, where the player base originally began in a separate launcher and some, but not all, have come across.)
But the size of Steam makes it still worth crunching the numbers. It had a good 2015, after all: the amount of concurrent users soared to 12 million-plus, up from approximately 8 million, and the marketplace now hosts over 7000 games from publishers big and small.
Large publishers enjoyed the top two spots on Steam for 2015, according to Sergey Galyonkin's estimates: GTA 5 and Fallout 4 were loved by millions of users, earning approximately hundreds of millions of dollars for their owners just through Valve's marketplace alone.
But the top 10 — and remember, this doesn't include things like Battlefront or StarCraft that go through separate launchers and marketplaces — was also filled out with Early Access titles and surprising indie hits.
ARK: Survival Evolved sitting at number 3 sits perfectly with the Steam market. Gamers on Steam like open-world games, they like survival and they like crafting, and ARK fits all three.
H1Z1 being as high up the list makes sense for the same reasons, and the outrage and void preceding EA's SimCity a few years ago helps illuminate the demand for Cities: Skylines. Besiege sits above The Witcher 3, but it's worth remembering many people picked up that game through Good Old Games and GOG Galaxy, so it's doubtful that the Early Access siege builder has a bigger audience on PC than Geralt's quest for Ciri.
Going further down, it's nice to see games like Undertale, Life is Strange, Elite: Dangerous and Darkest Dungeon perform as well as they did. Darkest Dungeon comes out of Early Access this month, too, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it get a second wave of sorts given how thin on the ground January is for new releases.
In the height of AAA season, Fallout 4 ruled the roost, although sales of Rocket League remained healthy throughout and there was even a surprising amount of interest in ArmA 3 despite the lack of a discount.