Gamers Downloaded Tons Of Terabytes Just Preloading Cyberpunk 2077

Gamers Downloaded Tons Of Terabytes Just Preloading Cyberpunk 2077
Image: CD Projekt Red
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All the chatter around Cyberpunk 2077 on console can make it hard to recognise just how big a success the game has been on PC. So here’s a figure to put things in perspective: the game’s downloads on Steam.

The Cyberpunk impact on network infrastructure was buried deep within a new blog post from Valve. The post is a wrap of the Steam platform for 2020, so there’s a lot of cool insights about its network.

For instance, did you know that COVID didn’t really have that big of an impact on the Steam network? While most ISPs and network operators have spoken about having to deal with the structural shift of more people being online — and more people gaming — the difference from Steam’s perspective was still less than what they’d see during a major sale:

The enormous increase in the number of people buying and playing games is a good problem for us to have–one that kept our operations teams busy managing the increased demand on our servers and network infrastructure. At the start of March, there was a 30-40% increase in total traffic related to game downloads; this is less than the bump we usually see during a sale, so it was fairly easily handled. 

Of course, Steam still saw tons of highs for the year: around 120.4 million monthly active users at its highest, a peak concurrent high of 24.8 million gamers, and a 21.4 percent increase in games bought compared to 2019.

Developers saw benefits too, with the amount of games earning more than $US100,000 in gross revenue rising by 36 per cent (this, however, is comparing sales from the 2020 Winter Sale to the 2019 Winter Sale). And demos are way more popular these days too:

But the Cyberpunk figure is interesting. It helps illustrate just what kind of undertaking devs have to do to accommodate preloads:

In combination with one of the biggest launches of the year in Cyberpunk 2077, we hit a record for download traffic of 52 Tbps (26 Tbps just for the preload period alone), which doubled our previous peak.

I’m not surprised the peak downloads was so high, especially considering the huge day one patch that everyone downloaded after the initial preload. The game sold 13 million copies just before Christmas, although the company hasn’t revealed figures on the impact of refunds to date. (As in, the total sales across all platforms could have been millions more.) We’ll likely find out in a couple of weeks the exact breakdown of PC vs console numbers, and how many preorders/sales there were on CD Projekt’s GOG storefront vs other marketplaces.

It’ll be fascinating to see what happens on Steam’s end when Cyberpunk‘s major content patches start to drop, too. That said, I doubt we’ll see any bandwidth figures get broken until GTA 6 finally emerges — although who knows when that could be.

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