It ain't over quite yet, but 2019 was a fantastic year to be a gamer. Triple A studios came out swingin and we fell in love with new Indie developers, regardless of the preferred platform to consume games on. PC gaming's largest platform, Steam, just published their annual 'Best of' stats, and there are a couple of surprises.
In the 'Top Sellers' category, which measures the gross revenue games made, there are some golden oldies we've come to expect. In the platinum rank we find Counter-Strike Global Offensive, which went free to play at the end of 2018, still brings in the big bucks. Fans show continued love for its cosmetics, which can be obtained through loot boxes or the Steam market. Rainbow Six Siege, released in 2015 and not free to play yet, also ranks in platinum.
More familiar titles from a seemingly previous era are found in the ranks below. Halo: The Master Chief Collection—which grabbed platinum in the 'Most Played' category, with over 100,000 concurrent players and released November this year—and Rocket League secured a golden plaque in the revenue category. Team Fortress 2 and Borderlands 2 still managed to grab silver while Cyberpunk 2077, a game that isn't even out yet and can only be pre-ordered, landed in bronze.
The winning newbies
Those older titles were excluded from the 'New Releases' category, comprised solely of games published in 2019, sorted by gross revenue. The list has an extensive list per month, but at the very top a list of overal winners can be found. Unsurprisingly, it's where huge titles like Red Dead Redemption II and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order can be found. But Planet Zoo, Code Vein and Remnant from the Ashes impressively made it to the top 12 too.
Early Access is a divisive topic in the gaming world. Some say it's an excuse for publishers to release an unfinished products, while others relish being able to dive in as soon as possible. In Steam's 'Early Access Grads' category, the games that had an Early Access period but were officially released in 2019 are honored, again ranked by the amount of money they raked in this year. Beat Saber—also ranked high in the VR Games category—sits at the top, accompanied by games like Ring of Elysium and Slay the Spire.
Which esports titles did we play and watch?
Steam's Best of 2019 lists don't provide specific data when it comes to gross revenue. However, a fifth category, 'Most Played', can easily be checked. Granted, it lists titles by their peak consecutive players, which doesn't mean a whole lot. Steam's creator, Valve, would know everything about that. On the list their autobattler Dota Underlords, which entered Open Beta on June 20th, celebrates having over 100,000 consecutive players at some point during 2019. Which is true, but the player numbers started dropping steeply just three days later. As we speak, the game sits at around 15,000 concurrent players on a daily basis, according to tracking site SteamDB.
It's still interesting to take a look at some of the titles on the list. In particular, the five largest esports titles found on Steam: Dota 2, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Rainbow Six Siege, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and Rocket League. The first four of those list all saw their peak concurrent player numbers rise above 100,000, while Rocket League sits one step lower, in the 'Over 50,000 simultaneous players' group—it peaked at just over 80,000 players on December 4th.
That number isn't a coincidence for Rocket League: it was right before the conclusion of the game's eighth competitive season. December was lucrative for Rocket League esports as well. According to Inven Global's Data Lab, the game peaked at over 250,000 concurrent viewers, while normaly the game hovers below 10,000 concurrent viewers.
Dota 2 and Counter-Strike Global Offensive still reign supreme when it comes to concurrent players. Throughout 2019, both titles sat either around or well above the 500,000 concurrent player mark, with Dota 2 even breaking a million concurrent players four times, in March. The International, Dota 2's world championship event, peaked at almost 500,000 concurrent players on just Twitch alone, according to the Inven Data Lab. Counter-Strike dominated early March and September, with over 800,000 concurrent viewers at the time of IEM Katowice, and over 600,000 concurrent viewers at the time of the StarLadder Major.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds started the year off with over a million simultaneous players as well, but has seen an overall decline in popularity since. It's still well above the 500,000 concurrent player mark consistently, however. Yet viewership-wise, the game still struggles. Only once, during the PUBG Nations Cup finals, on August 11th, did the esport rise to the top of the watched titles.
Rainbow Six Siege had a more difficult time maintaining over 100,000 concurrent players, and hopped over and dipped below it throughout the entire year. Its Twitch viewership broke the 200,000 concurrent viewer mark twice: on February 17 and August 18th.
Images via Steam
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.