Steam reached a record 6 million concurrent users logged in around noon eastern standard time on November 25th. This blows out the service’s previous record of over five million in January, and just four million the previous September.
Steam has become the primary portal for PC gamers to buy, trade, and play. Forbes reported in 2011 that sales on the Steam network comprised up to 70% of the $4 billion video game download market. In terms of server load, Steam served over 780 petabytes of data in that same year. FADE, a forecasting firm whose name is short for Forecasting and Analyzing Digital Entertainment, estimated that Steam’s revenues in 2010 were around $1 billion USD.
At the top of the list on the record breaking weekend was Dota 2, a game published by Steam’s parent company Valve. Dota, which stands for Defense of the Ancients, was originally a mod developed for Blizzard’s Warcraft III. It may seem paradoxical for one game developer to watch and eventually invest in a fan created mod for another company’s game, but that’s par for the course where Valve is concerned. Many of Valve’s most popular products originally came from community driven projects, such the father of modern military shooters, Counter-Strike. In much the same vein, Valve has recently opened up Steam Greenlight, which allows Steam users to pick new games to be released on Steam, mostly from independent developers, greatly expanding the already far reaching library Steam has to offer.
The Steam library includes titles from nearly every major third party developer in the market. It’s no surprise that producers flock to publishing on Steam’s marketplace, seeing that it offers gross margins of 70%, compared to up to 30% in the traditional retail market. This wide base of content, coupled with the amazingly popular Steam sales that run during limited times of the year, has kept competitors such as EA’s Oracle and GOG at bay, for the time being.