Steam just broke its own record for concurrent users, hitting - and then surpassing - its prior record of 18,537,490 users earlier today.
According to SteamDB (thanks, PCGN), the number of concurrent Steam users peaked at 18,801,944 players a little before 2.30pm UK time today - 2.20pm to be precise - smashing the record it set back in January 2018.
.@Steam has broken its record for most concurrently online users that was held for two years. Previous record was 18,537,490 users. It's still increasing!— Steam Database (@SteamDB) February 2, 2020
But there's about 1 million less players actually in-game (?5.8mil vs ?7mil two years ago).https://t.co/D6WDHbz0B4
As SteamDB points out, however, what's interesting is that while we're seeing record numbers of concurrent Steam users, that's not reflected in the in-game figures.
"Steam has broken its record for most concurrently online users that was held for two years. Previous record was 18,537,490 users. It's still increasing!" SteamDB tweeted earlier today. "But there's about 1 million less players actually in-game (≈5.8mil vs ≈7mil two years ago)."
So: what, exactly, were those 18.8m PC players doing at the time the numbers peaked? Without disaggregated stats that allow us to really interrogate the data sets, we can only guess, but the biggest games on the PC platform right now are reportedly Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, Grand Theft Auto 5, and Monster Hunter: World. Even combined, though, the player numbers don't even account for 3 million, let alone almost 19m, and even allowing for the millions of players likely AFK, that's still a sizeable number unaccounted for.
Regardless of who those players are and/or what they're up to, it's nonetheless an incredible achievement for Steam, one that shows the platform's popularity continues to grow and perhaps suggests rival clients like the Epic Games Store have yet to take a sizeable chunk of the playerbase after all.