Steam notches highest concurrent player count ever over Thanksgiving

Enough family time, let's game.

teenager boy playing video games in a dark room, wearing a white headset
vitapix/E+/Getty Images

Steam enjoyed a historic Thanksgiving weekend in 2021, as it notched 27,384,959 concurrent users online on its service. That's an all-time record, though it's worth noting that only around 8 million of those users were actually in-game at any one time.

It's also far from the first time that Steam has shattered this record in 2021, with ongoing current events continuing to keep many people indoors and at home. For example, back in February, Steam managed a record-breaking 26.4 million concurrent online users on a random Sunday.

Yes, the numbers go up — Observers have pointed to the soaring popularity of big multiplayer games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and PUBG as driving this trend, though it's worth noting Amazon Studios' New World has recently entered the fray. As of this writing, CS:GO, Dota 2, New World, Valve's own Team Fortress 2, and PUBG make up the top 5, with Apex Legends, Farming Simulator 22, GTA V, Rust, and Football Manager 2022 rounding out the rest of the top 10.

Number 11 is a notable game that hasn't even officially come out yet, the multiplayer juggernaut Halo Infinite. The release of new games like Infinite and New World have no doubt contributed to the startling growth of Steam's user base over the past two years, but the platform's annual Autumn Sale probably helped as well. For comparison's sake, Steam's concurrent user record was around 17 million in late 2019, which really shows how much the service has ballooned in popularity in the past two years.

Sharing the bounty — 2021 has been a record-breaking year for many popular games, including Team Fortress 2, which shattered its own concurrent player record 14 years past its initial launch. As a whole, it feels like the market for video games has never been bigger, though it's increasingly dominated by a small number of big games that attract millions of players every day.