37 percent of Steam games have never been played -- Report

What's in your pile of shame?

An absolutely fascinating study into Steam by Ars Technica has unearthed some interesting information, including the estimation that 37 percent of all games purchased on everyone's favourite digital gaming platform remain unplayed.

The site has been randomly searching through 172 million Steam Community IDs for over two months to provide the fuel for its results.

Steam might be a platform for thousands of titles, but two games dominate the rest, and both are free-to-play: Dota 2, with an estimated 25.9 million owners, followed by Team Fortress 2 with 20.3 million.

In third is Half-Life 2: Lost Coast with 12.77 million, and then the rest of the top 20 is almost exclusively the domain of Valve's own titles: Counter-Strike: Source, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, Left 4 Dead 2, Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2, Portal, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Day of Defeat, Deathmatch Classic, Ricochet, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Day of Defeat: Source, Portal 2, and Half-Life 2: Episode One.

The only non-Valve games in the most played list are The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at 14th, with 5.94 million owners, Civilization V at 16th with 5.84 million, and Garry’s Mod at 18th with 5.35 million.

There's a huge difference between owned and played, however: 2.1 million have actually played Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, compared to 10.7 who haven't. While Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 remain top dogs overall, when looking at the most played games on Steam, titles like Modern Warfare 2, Warframe, Terraria, and Borderlands 2 all creep into the list.

So...how many games are in your pile of shame?

For more results from this incredible survey, check out the rest of the original Ars Technica report.

Martin Gaston is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @squidmania
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

260 comments
dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

This article is a blatant lie. 

You can sort every game on the steam store in alphabetical order and 95% of all games you click have at least one review. In order to write a review on steam you have to have played the game for at least half an hour. 

And just think about how bold of a statement that is to make, every game on earth takes a lot of work to create. Even indie games usually have at least half a dozen people working on them. So you are saying the people who made the game never even played their own game on steam? This article is just wrong on so many different levels.


FallenOneX
FallenOneX

From the outside looking in, seems like all that money I'm supposed to be saving by gaming on PC will ultimately be wasted on games I'll never play.

saiyansnake
saiyansnake

Humble Bundle and Steam sales are to blame. Steam usually has great deals but Humble Bundle has even better deals on a weekly basis. I mean come on, paying $20 for over $200 worth of games to me a is no-brainer.

oldtobie
oldtobie

I have one unplayed game in my library and it's only unplayed because I bought it recently and have yet to finish the prequel.

Psycold
Psycold

I have 258 games and counting, I am definitely partially to blame for this statistic. 

highpitcairn
highpitcairn

We're collecting the game Instead playing it

evarin
evarin

Humble Bundle contributes to a massive amount of my unplayed game section on Steam.

mr_glaceon
mr_glaceon

Maybe it's because people buy games, and realize their laptops or desktops can't actually run them? That's the case for me with two games, and after installing a new hard drive, I haven't felt like downloading Dota 2 again, since it's 5 freaking Gigabytes. Half Life 2 doesn't even like my laptop's GPU, so I'll have to wait until I build a desktop to play it.

hitomo
hitomo

exactly , like the internet as a whole, steam is just a giant trash.bin ... I would never want to marketing my games through steam or any plattform a like ... only if I am desperate and starving ...

mrdinghat
mrdinghat

Blame the sales. Can't say no to a good deal.


I'm sure I'll get around to them eventually. I discovered Payday 2 the other day, pretty much got rid of all my backlog clearing plans for the time being :(

blutfahne
blutfahne

I'd say at least 20% of my games I got for free through gifting, preorders, bundles etc.

Ailurusf
Ailurusf

Humble Bundle plus steam sales are easy culprits. I usually buy stuff when is super-cheap during the sales and play it sometime later. That could easily be a year later, as I just did with Limbo, which I had gotten in some HB a while ago. 

simon1812
simon1812

I didnt know this, but it doesnt surprise me.

externalpower43
externalpower43

Because steam is stupid and annoying. I really love sitting through steam updates before I get to play my games that I pay top dollar for.

Dasein808
Dasein808

Why is this console maggot fanboy even allowed to comment on anything related to PC gaming? 

I still remember his CA interview for Rome 2. The rude little piece of trash should have been fired following that interview.

Oh yeah, and Martin:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2014/04/28/as-global-pc-game-revenue-surpasses-consoles-how-long-should-console-makers-keep-fighting/

Now get back to covering consoles and leave the PC coverage to actual adults.

Nm, I forgot this is gamespot.

themc_7
themc_7

Sometimes I wonder how games on Steam make any money. The Witch 1 & 2 for $6!? Someone is losing money there. How can games sell so cheap?

lilflipp
lilflipp

That's how Steamers roll! I don't buy games on release day, they are glitchy and expensive, unless it's a game I just can't wait and I believe in(Ex: The Witcher 3, and stuff like that)


Always wait for a few patches to fix and improve the game and price cuts, or dem salez.

lorider25
lorider25

It's not my fault!....It's the damn Summer Sale I Tell You!!!


I....I Just can't help myself....*sob*

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

Gluttony is a deadly sin I do not partake in. I buy only the game I wish to play, nothing more.

Digisurfer
Digisurfer

I have a ton of games I haven't gotten around to playing yet. Some are from Steam, free and paid including a few I have yet to gift to someone. Most are from the bargain bin at Futureshop and Walmart for my Xbox 360, which I raid every 4 to 6 months or so. I generally pay $20 per game on average and usually come home with 5 or 6 of them after a raid. I refuse to pay more than that, except in very rare cases. In other words I'm not at all surprised by the finding in this article. Nice to see I'm not the only one who does it. ;-)

yngsten
yngsten

I'm not that guy going nuts over a summer sale. Fill that freezer up with meat you will always eat what's on top leaving the 3/4 of what is underneath to go bad. There is always a sale, no need to go nuts over anything.

genjuroT
genjuroT

I buy 100% of the games I want when they go on sale, then I play the crap out of 100% them, nuff said. 


I have a friend that bought that Halo RTS game along with some other games from gamestop. Several months later, I asked him how it was. He said he doesn't own or ever bought the game... A week later after he cleaned his filthy room he found it and told me he had it.


I don't get why people buy something they don't want. He also bought Portal 2 and never played it even though i tried really hard to get him to play it after he bought it. Nope...he never even touched it. I ended up borrowing it for 3 days, beat it and gave it back. How hard was that? It was a great game. 

Heinpienaar123
Heinpienaar123

Currently have more than 100 un-played games. I started with Mass effect 2 about a year ago and I'm still only a bit into the game due to university.

jjleshko90
jjleshko90

It's because Steam sells old games for like $1 so they can at least get something out of it because people will just torrent/portable it so they sell them for $1 and fanboys go "OMG A SALE!" and buy 10 games that Steam thought they would've pirated but in the end they don't play it any way.


In other news, you guys need to stop photoshoping zits into Martin's photos. This is the 21st century; the man has undoubtedly heard of accutane. Stop putting the red dots into his prof pics. It's getting annoying. He knows where walmart is.

Caldrin
Caldrin

I would not call it a pile of shame.. I buy a lot of games in the sales and of course I can not play them all at the same time but I do eventually get around to playing them :)

So when the sales come around I usually buy any games that I want to play and then through the year slowly play through them all.. I dont like rushing through games.

I must admit that some of the humble bundles I have picked up have included games that I may never play but still not worried abou that as the cash goes towards a good thing.



OrgeLambart
OrgeLambart

got like 1200 games, probably have played about 400 of them, only a few of them make it over an hour or two.  It's mainly because I buy them in bundles and they just sit there.  Not to mention my harddrive can only keep like 200 installed at a time

ck10304
ck10304

@dannydopamine8 No you're just misunderstanding it (if I understand it correctly that is). It doesn't mean that 37% of all games on Steam haven't been played by anyone, which is what the title sounds like. I'm pretty sure it means that an average user hasn't played 37% of the games they own. Like for instance, they mentioned HL2: Lost Coast has been bought by 10 million people but only played by 2, so 80% of those "games" sold haven't been played.

ck10304
ck10304

@FallenOneX Well, paying a few dollars for a game and not playing it is not the same as buying a $60 game and not playing it. And, you don't actually need to buy the game if you don't plan on playing it, it's not like you're required to xD

ikcizokm
ikcizokm

@highpitcairn Collecting Steam games IS the game. :) My library has 321 games so far. I remember joining Steam when the only game available was HL2. But I have friends who have close to 500 games. We're too busy buying games to play them. #achievement

jemoedr
jemoedr

@mr_glaceon I guess your desktop must suck then. My desktop is 8 years old and runs every game i have. And what's the issue with just 5 Gb if you have a new hard drive?

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

@mr_glaceon People dont buy games if their hardware can't run them. I guess thats something just you do.

All the minimum system requirements are listed next to every game.

delta5931
delta5931

@hitomo Other than Valves problem with Quality Control, the service is spectacular. 

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

@blutfahne Getting a game gifted for you is not "free" you have to do a LOT of pretending you like people

northshire
northshire

@simon1812 It was a little higher number than expected, but I'm not surprised either. I guess when you get most of your games for 50% off, it's not a big deal if you don't play a third of them.

Dasein808
Dasein808

@externalpower43 That's right. 

Console gamers don't have to deal with patches and hard drive installation do they?

jemoedr
jemoedr

@themc_7 Well i guess they where way in profit before they where sold for those prices. Besides, shitting out a key and let you download a copy doesn't cost them anything...

bassplayer55
bassplayer55

@themc_7 Well if you think about it, before digital services like Steam came along, old games like that would've just been retired - they certainly wouldn't get any shelf space in Gamestop minus a few bargain bin copies. So I guess developers figure a few hundred, thousand, or tens of thousands of sales at uber cheap pricing is better than diddly squat. But yeah - 6 bucks is ridiculously cheap, lol. After Steam takes their cut it must be chump change.

lilflipp
lilflipp

@jimmy_russell I bought Tomb Raider for 4$ a whillllleee back. It was on -80% sale. It's an absolutely awesome game. I always wanted to play it but never got to buying it. Bought and I just recently started and finished playing it, like a week ago.


Forced my friend to create a steam account so he could get both The Witcher + The Witcher 2 for 6$ combined. He just started The Witcher, still hasn't installed The Witcher 2


Some of the deals you just have to take. Skins in games like LoL cost more than these amazing games. It's more than worth buying them at this price. Unless you have no intentions whatsoever to play them.

PsychoChick966
PsychoChick966

@jimmy_russell I dig what you're saying, but it's not always about gluttony.  I have bought many a game on Steam, with every intent to play, but I don't feel well, so I just don't always have the mental energy to put into my games... so sometimes this creates a backlog of games I haven't opened yet.

lilflipp
lilflipp

@yngsten That is the worst analogy I've seen in a while lol. Games don't go bad. If anything they get better with time and patches. I never buy games on release dates. I wait for the first price cut and patches.

xhero2
xhero2

@ck10304 i understand it the same way as you. The title of the post is misleading, and when i think about my steam account i think im well over the 37% of games i havent gotten to try yet. Spare time for gaming is needed, so i cant keep up with all the good games i wanna play^^

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

@ck10304 You're right, because I wouldn't pay $60 for a game and not play it. 


Everyone talks about how great Steam prices are, which is totally true. It's hard to read about sales on games and not be a little envious of PC gamers. At the same time, I know if I had a gaming PC that I'd also have a ton of games that would probably never get touched, but the deal was too good to pass up. I own all of the recent Batman games on various consoles, on average I'd say I paid $45 for each. If they had all three available on steam for $10 (which I'm pretty sure has happened already), I'd pick them up again just to have the best looking versions.

tomahawk08
tomahawk08

@ikcizokm  "I remember joining Steam when the only game available was HL2."


Thats a lie. Steam was around when the original HL was out and I was playing CS 1.4 and the original Day of Defeat.

ikcizokm
ikcizokm

@PowerDingALing @ikcizokm Your sarcasm detector is broken. And your spell-checker.

jemoedr
jemoedr

@themc_7 @jemoedr Yes, a 2 millisecond calculation on their "license server".

It's not like they have to place a request to some ministry. They just need to register the new license key on their servers so that it is recognized as legal and they're done.

themc_7
themc_7

@jemoedr @themc_7 it's not the time that costs money, it's the license. It's not like Microsoft giving out Windows 7 licenses. Valve doesn't own the games they are selling, they are a middle man. The middle man still needs to buy the licenses from the publisher before he can sell them.