Valve has posted their Year In Review for 2020 and as expected thanks to the lockdown the amount of people playing video games drastically went up. In 2020 there was over 120 million monthly active users which is more than the amount of PS4s shipped worldwide. For an idea of how big the growth is, back in 2019 Steam had 95 million monthly active users so that means Steam gain 25 million more monthly active users in 2020. I wonder if Steam will still have these numbers once the pandemic is finally over.
As many of you already know, this past year had more than its share of challenges, with everyone's lives upended by the global pandemic. While Steam was already seeing significant growth in 2020 before COVID-19 lockdowns, video game playtime surged when people started staying home, dramatically increasing the number of customers buying and playing games, and hopefully bringing some joy to counter-balance some of the craziness that was 2020. This has led to new highs for monthly active users (120.4 million), daily active users (62.6 million), peak concurrent users (24.8 million), first-time purchasers (2.6 million per month), hours of playtime (31.3 billion hours), and the number of games purchased (21.4% increase over 2019).
VR Gaming on PCs has continued to show growth in 2020 with game sales up 32% year-over-year. That's not even counting the launch of Half-Life: Alyx, which added an additional 39% on top of that. Demand for PC VR is strong and growing as more than 1.7 million users on Steam experienced VR games for the first time in 2020. Concurrently, Valve Index hardware demand was consistently high with inventory catching up toward the end of 2020. VR users have enjoyed over 104 million PC VR sessions last year, with each session averaging about 32 minutes, culminating in a 30% increase in total playtime.
To support all these users, SteamVR has been continually upgraded throughout the year with dozens of point releases. The most notable updates featured an all new Dashboard and expanded support for OpenXR, which makes it easier for developers to have their games work on all supported headsets by writing to just one API.
Controllers on Steam
More and more people are choosing to play their Steam games with a controller. To date, there have been 46.6 million users who have used a controller–as a comparison, at the end of 2019 there were 31.8 million users. Last year, there were 1.68 billion game sessions where a controller was used, a 66.6% increase from the 1.01 billion sessions in 2019. And of these sessions in 2020, 452 million were in games that integrated with Steam Input, up from the 232 million the previous year. If you leverage Steam Input for your games, you'll get support for hundreds of devices out of the box. And we'll do the work for you when new controllers come out, like when we added support for PS5 and Xbox Series X controllers.
And Valves plans for 2021
While many of the projects we planned to ship in 2020 did, in fact, ship, dealing with an ongoing pandemic shifted some of our priorities throughout the year. This inevitably meant that some of the planned projects had to take a backseat to managing the increased traffic and demand from the additional millions of users on Steam. However, we still think it's useful for us to talk publicly about some of the projects we want to push forward in 2021.
- Steam China - Together with our partner Perfect World, the team has been hard at work, and we're really close to launching this program to bring Steam onshore into China in early 2021.
- User Experience Improvements - We're looking at filing down the rough edges that most
users encounter when interacting with Steam–basically, we want to make it as easy as possible to buy, install, and play games.
- Steam Login - We still plan on refreshing the Steam Mobile app and making it easier for users to login and keep their accounts secure.
- The Steam Points program - We're brainstorming more ways to reward users, including folks who aren't especially interested in Steam Community features.
- Linux - We're continuing to invest in technology that improves game compatibility and performance through Steam Play. We're also putting together new ways for prospective users to get into Linux gaming and experience these improvements.
- Steam Labs - Along with iterating on existing experiments, such as 010 - Browse and 012 - Exploring Sales, we're exploring new ways for players to browse the catalog in the coming year.