Whether it’s the emergence of the battle royale genre or breakout multiplayer survival games, PC gaming often serves as the frontier for the latest trends and innovations in the gaming landscape, often leading to massive concentrations of players.
But of all the PC games ever to appear on the Steam charts, few have enjoyed the exceptional popularity of those atop Steam’s most played charts. Based on the maximum number of concurrent players ever held by any game on Valve’s platform, here are the 15 most played Steam games of all time.
15. Fallout 4
Concurrent Player Record: 472,962
As the long-awaited sequel from the studio that had most recently released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the anticipation for Fallout 4 was undeniable around the time of launch. So much so, in fact, that in the days after its debut, it soared to the top of Steam’s player charts and set a record that still ekes out a spot on the top 15 of all time to this very day.
With an infinite number of settlements needing the help of players, it's no wonder why this game’s player count has stood the test of time.
14. Capcom Arcade Stadium
Concurrent Player Record: 472,791
Hilariously, Capcom Arcade Stadium shot to the top of the Steam charts and was the third most played game at one point (above even Apex Legends and PUBG) long after its initial release. Why? The answer, according to Pavel Djundik who is an expert on Steam’s metrics, is that bots flooded to the game and idled within it in order to farm Steam Trading Cards.
Steam Trading Cards are digital collectibles on Valve’s platform that can be traded for monetary value, and making a bot pretend to play a game is apparently one way that one might acquire cards to be sold. The fact that Capcom Arcade Stadium can be downloaded for free makes it a prime target for those kinds of shenanigans.
Maybe we shouldn’t count this one, since it was erroneously boosted by the presence of fake players, but the story’s kinda too good to skip over. We’re counting it – you’re welcome, Capcom.
Concurrent Player Record: 489,886
As one of the best-selling games of all time (nearly 45 million copies sold by some counts), it’s unsurprising to see Terraria make the list of most played Steam games. The pixelated survival and building RPG, which is sometimes compared to the likes of Minecraft, is wonderfully hard to put down and perfect to play with friends, plus is affordable enough to give a pretty low barrier of entry for those who are curious to give it a try. With nearly 500,000 concurrent players at its peak, it’s clear that many of those buyers were hooked.
12. Call of Duty: Warzone
Concurrent Player Record: 491,670
Call of Duty games have always been more popular on consoles than Steam (who seem to favor the likes of Counter-Strike), but with the advent of the battle royale genre, which has enjoyed enormous popularity on the PC platform, Warzone easily makes the cut. As last-man-standing games entered a new level of maturity and saw AAA iterations enter the fray, Warzone has become a staple at the top of Steam’s player charts, alongside the likes of other battle royale peers like Apex Legends.
Interestingly, Warzone is the only Call of Duty game to appear on this list, despite the series enjoying massive success and popularity with each annual release.
Concurrent Player Record: 502,387
Survival games have a habit of doing exceedingly well on Steam, and one of the more recent examples to soar on the Steam charts is Valheim: the challenging, Norse-inspired game from Iron Gate. With overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam and a ton of hype in the weeks and months after its initial launch, it was a common occurrence to see nearly all of one’s Steam friends logged on during the height of its popularity.
10. Apex Legends
Concurrent Player Record: 624,473
Apex Legends remains one of the most popular battle royale games to this day, so it’s no wonder it can be found in the top ten most played Steam games of all time. Obviously it’s an incredibly polished shooter from the studio that created the likes of Titanfall 2, but it's also important to remember that it is and always has been a free-to-play game as well, which makes it incredibly accessible for anyone looking to hop in. Even now, Apex Legends retains hundreds of thousands of daily players, so it’s likely to remain within the top ten for some time.
9. Goose Goose Duck
Concurrent Player Record: 702,845
Surprisingly, there is only one social deduction game to make it on this list, and it’s not Among Us. Instead, it’s Gaggle Studios’ Goose Goose Duck, where you and your fellow geese try to identify duck infiltrators in your ranks before they take you down.
The reason for the game’s rise in popularity? The sheer star power of one of its early players. After K-pop star Kim Taehyung, better known as V of BTS fame, streamed himself playing the game, it absolutely exploded on Steam, overwhelming the indie developer’s servers in no time at all. Even today its player base remains substantial with tens of thousands logging in every day, but one has to consider if it ever would have reached such lofty heights without a little push from BTS.
8. Hogwarts Legacy
Concurrent Player Record: 879,308
As one of the most popular fictional worlds ever created, one might expect to see a game taking place in the world of witchcraft and wizardry to make the list – and one would be right. Hailed as the first truly good Harry Potter game, Hogwarts Legacy broke sales records and concurrent player records in the days after its Steam debut.
Hogwarts Legacy is also the most recent game on this list, having been released earlier this year only a few short months ago. It’s also noteworthy that Hogwarts Legacy is one of only three games on this list that does not feature multiplayer in any form, making its accomplishment all the more impressive.
7. New World
Concurrent Player Record: 953,426
The first of two MMORPGs to make the list, New World was the first major hit from Amazon Games, the online shopping network’s play at breaking into the games industry. The MMO put players in the boots of an explorer in the mid-seventeenth century sent to colonize a fictional new continent, and had players grinding for raw materials and crafting to settle the untamed land.
A strong initial launch saw its astronomical rise to the top of the Steam charts that saw a dramatic 90% decline just a few short months later, though it still enjoys a fairly large following to this day.
6. Elden Ring
Concurrent Player Record: 953,426
A FromSoftware game directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki with worldbuilding from George R. R. Martin is just about the most search engine optimized thing I can imagine, so it's only expected that the latest soulslike masterpiece from the creator of the genre would dominate the lives of gamers everywhere for as long as it did.
With nearly one million concurrent players at one point, Elden Ring would go on to win IGN’s Game of the Year award for 2022, alongside numerous other accolades.
5. Cyberpunk 2077
Concurrent Player Record: 1,054,388
Despite a troubled launch on consoles, CD Projekt RED’s singleplayer science fiction RPG, Cyberpunk 2077, was incredibly popular on the PC platform, with over 1 million players online at the same time at its peak. As the follow-up project from the studio who developed the legendary Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the hype behind Cyberpunk certainly helped propel it to the top of the Steam charts. To this day, it remains the most played Steam game that does not have multiplayer features of any kind.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, the upcoming DLC for the game is set to arrive in September 2023.
4. Dota 2
Concurrent Player Record: 1,295,114
The only multiplayer online battle arena, or MOBA, to appear on Steam’s top 15 most played games is one of the greatest of the genre: Dota 2. Created by none other than Valve, Dota 2 has stood the test of time, regularly hosting over half a million players every day. At its all-time peak, it held well over 1.25 million players, earning it the coveted fourth position on Steam’s most played charts.
3. Lost Ark
Concurrent Player Record: 1,325,305
The third most played Steam game in history is also the most played MMORPG to make the list. Lost Ark, an action role-playing game that found success in South Korea during its regional debut from developer Smilegate, was later released internationally to become one of the most popular MMOs on the market.
While its daily player counts have waned since its heyday, at its peak it held the interest of well over one million players at the same time – that’s a whole lot of giant dragons and oversized swords!
2. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Concurrent Player Record: 1,818,773
In Steam history, few games have had an impact on the platform like Counter-Strike. Indeed, Steam may not be the industry-leading platform it is today without the ongoing success of the series which still, to this very day, reaches over one million concurrent players on an almost daily basis. At its peak, Global Offensive, the latest in the series, held almost 2 million players simultaneously, which is miraculously not very many more concurrent players than it hosts on a regular basis. It’s hard to imagine how big a splash the recently announced Counter-Strike 2 will make when it eventually becomes available.
1. PUBG: Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
Concurrent Player Record: 3,257,248
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG, was the progenitor for the world’s most popular genre of late: battle royales. Though numerous iterations have spawned since and found incredible success (a couple of which even appear on this list), the attention garnered by the original genuine article is unlikely to be bested anytime soon.
With over 3 and a quarter million concurrent players, PUBG nearly doubles the next most played Steam game and far outpaces many of the other juggernauts on this list and is hands-down the most played Steam game of all time, by a mile.
Travis Northup is a writer for IGN based in San Francisco. He's been writing about games for over a decade and enjoys everything from strategy games and platformers to shooters and open-world RPGs.