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

What's in your pile of shame?

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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.

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Avatar image for RedLegZeff

I'm gonna get around to them, I swear.

Avatar image for Erock4430

I wish you could buy time on steam....at a discount...

Avatar image for yogibbear

The stats for hrs played didn't start getting recorded when steam went live so I have games I've beaten in my steam list that show 0 hours played even though I spent 100 hrs playing them. So results are dumb unless they do not include games released prior to steam changing the way it recorded statistics.

Avatar image for bluefox755

The title makes it sound like 37% of games have never been played by anyone, Gotta get clicks somehow I guess.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for ck10304

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for 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^^

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for ck10304

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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

Avatar image for FallenOneX

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for Psycold

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

Avatar image for highpitcairn

We're collecting the game Instead playing it

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for tomahawk08

<< LINK REMOVED >> "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.

Avatar image for PowerDingALing

<< LINK REMOVED >> Collecting games is the game only if you are stupid. Wich seems to be the case.

Avatar image for ikcizokm

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

Avatar image for evarin

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for jemoedr

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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?

Avatar image for dannydopamine8

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for 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 ...

Avatar image for dannydopamine8

@hitomo What? steam is not a marketing service

Avatar image for delta5931

<< LINK REMOVED >> Other than Valves problem with Quality Control, the service is spectacular.

Avatar image for 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 :(

Avatar image for blutfahne

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

Avatar image for dannydopamine8

<< LINK REMOVED >> Getting a game gifted for you is not "free" you have to do a LOT of pretending you like people

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for simon1812

I didnt know this, but it doesnt surprise me.

Avatar image for northshire

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for ultimaomegazero

<< LINK REMOVED >> Then update more often.

Avatar image for Dasein808

@externalpower43 That's right.

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

Avatar image for 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:


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

Nm, I forgot this is gamespot.

Avatar image for 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?

Avatar image for jemoedr

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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...

Avatar image for themc_7

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> each game download is a digital license. it does cost them something.

Avatar image for jemoedr

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for themc_7

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for bassplayer55

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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.