Steam Leak Reveals Player Counts For Hundreds Of Games

Things are getting steamy in here.

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A recent leak has given unprecedented insight on the popularity of thousands of Steam games. Ars Technica reports that the hole in Valve's API gave precise player counts for tons of games before the company sealed it up. The mathematical calculations for estimating player counts are complex, but the end-result is a striking snapshot of total players as of July 1.

It should be noted, though, that this method of tracking player counts relies on Steam achievements, so it doesn't count games that don't actually use achievements. It counts any game that was played at least once, which means simply downloading and starting up a game is enough to make an appearance. That gives an inherent advantage to free-to-play games, which have a low barrier to entry. However, it's only games that have been tried once achievements were added, which disadvantages older games.

The top three games on the list are Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. The first two are Valve-published games, and TF2 enjoys the added benefit of having gone free-to-play in 2011. Others in the top ten include Unturned, Left 4 Dead 2, Payday 2, Garry's Mod, Warframe, Counter-Strike: Source, and Paladins.

The full listing is interesting to see and includes games ranging from a few hundred thousand players to the tens of millions. It's not pinpoint-accurate due to the caveats about how the data was compiled, but it's a more direct player count comparison than the gaming public is usually privy to.

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