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Steam's Most Popular Games

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the goat-simulator-falls-just-short dept.

PC Games (Games) 118

An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Ars Technica scraped a ton of gameplay data from Steam's player profiles to provide statistics on how many people own each game, and how often it's played. For example: 37% of the ~781 million games owned by Steam users have never been played. Dota 2 has been played by almost 26 million people for a total of 3.8 billion hours. Players of CoD: Modern Warfare 2 spend six times as long in multiplayer as in single-player. This sampling gives much more precise data than we usually have about game sales rates. 'If there's one big takeaway from looking at the entirety of our Steam sales and player data, it's that a few huge ultra-hits are driving the majority of Steam usage. The vast majority of titles form a "long tail" of relative crumbs. Out of about 2,750 titles we've tracked using our sampling method, the top 110 sellers represent about half of the individual games registered to Steam accounts. That's about four percent of the distinct titles, each of which has sold 1.38 million copies or more. This represents about 50 percent of the registered sales on the service. ... about half of the estimated 18.5 billion man-hours that have been spent across all Steam games have gone toward just the six most popular titles.'"

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Partial statistics (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46773535)

37% of the ~781 million games owned by Steam users have never been played.

... through the crapware layer of the steam launcher.
I don't trust Valve, I paid money for the game, I will crack it and run it without their knowledge if I want to.

Oh, and there's a few I bought on sale that looked interesting but I haven't installed yet.

Re:Partial statistics (5, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 3 months ago | (#46773557)

Same here, but for performance reasons. Steam is extremely heavy on OS X, I avoid it if I can launch the game by itself.

Re:Partial statistics (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46773599)

Steam is extremely heavy on OS X

I hope it's worth the weight!

Re:Partial statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46774445)

It's not that steam is heavy, it's that OS X is such a hulking hunk of shit for doing anything but productivity-related operations.

Re:Partial statistics (1)

notanalien_justgreen (2596219) | about 3 months ago | (#46775483)

Agreed. I really like the idea of Steam as well as their customer service and general philosophy. However I dread loading it up on OS X because it's such a bloated piece of shit. I wish you could just shut it down once the game was running.

Re:Partial statistics (0, Flamebait)

Crass Spektakel (4597) | about 3 months ago | (#46776561)

> Steam is extremely heavy on OS X

Everything is extremely heavy on Macox. Coz it can not carry much.

> I avoid it if I can launch the game by itself

I avoid Macox too.

Re:Partial statistics (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 months ago | (#46773701)

I've got a WHACK of steam games bought as part of bundles (humble bundles, steam bundles etc...)

I bought a steam halflife bundle at some point... I've played HalfLife 2 to completion, but have never played HL2 deathmatch, hl2 ep1, hl2 ep2, hl2 lost coast, hl deathmatch:source, hl blue shift, hl opposing force, hl source.

I bought an ID pack at some point. I've got 2 Hexens, Hexen2 and Heretic that I've never played, with 3 quakes, 3 quake 2s, and 2 quake 3s. So far I've only played Quake II.

I bought the Sid Meier humble bundle which came with Civ5 a bunch of its expansions, and Civ IV, and III ... I've played Civ V a bit so far... but have 8 separate entries for Civ IV in my steam library, along with Civ III that I haven't touched. Along with Pirates! and Railroads. I'll probably play Pirates! at some point... who knows about the rest.

I've got and Sam & Max set, that I'm part way through... so 3 titles I haven't touched out of 5.

I've got 5 episodes of Back to the Future that came with another humble bundle that was worth the price of entry to me for something else. I might try it at some point, who knows... its pretty low on my priority list though.

I wouldn't be surprised that others who are avid supporters of humble bundles have lots of games they've yet to try.

etc, etc, etc.

Re:Partial statistics (2)

richtopia (924742) | about 3 months ago | (#46773837)

I thought HL2 ep2 was awesome, and ep1 was fun also, I'd suggest checking them out (only 20 hours if you milk them) if you enjoyed HL2

Re:Partial statistics (1)

lgw (121541) | about 3 months ago | (#46775027)

Wow, I quite the HL franchise halfway through Ep 2 it stank so badly. All subjective I guess.

I still go back and play HL1 every couple of years, followed by OpFor and BlueShift. I think that was the peak of single player FPS gaming, and it's been gradually downhill ever since as focus shifted to multiplayer, or incorporated RPG elements. (Quake 4 was also pretty good, but it was a deliberate throwback to those days).

Not that I hate FPS RPGs, but it's a different genre.

Re:Partial statistics (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 months ago | (#46777081)

Wow, I quite the HL franchise halfway through Ep 2 it stank so badly. All subjective I guess.

I enjoyed HL2 but found it incredibly linear in a way that even, say, the original Doom wasn't. I haven't tried ep1/ep2 but do plan to at some point.

I still go back and play HL1 every couple of years, followed by OpFor and BlueShift. I think that was the peak of single player FPS gaming

Hmm. I really enjoyed Serious Sam 3 BFE which is pretty recent, albeit also a throwback to old school FPS. That you mentioned Quake 4 is surprising, I quite enjoyed that one too... but it wasn't generally well reviewed and I agree with some of the criticisms of it. Duke Forever also had its moments too if you like classic single player FPS, and even the strip club level, which i originally thought was beyond stupid... I've since gained a healthy appreciation for just how much of a parody that level is of similarly interruptive and pointless fetch-mission mechanics as-seen in other games -- that I now sincerely believe that the level's stupidity itself is deliberately intended as a commentary on the game mechanic itself.

To me, its a deceptively smart and cleverly crafted game wrapped in a veil of vulgarity and stupidity. Or maybe its just vulgar and stupid... but I don't think so.

Beta Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46774211)

Bingo. I have dozens of Steam games I've never played, most of which came as part of a bigger bundle that was cheaper than just buying the games I wanted from that bundle. So this doesn't surprise me at all.

Re:Partial statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46775101)

When GTA3 is purchased, two Steam games show up in my list of games: GTA3, and GTA3.
From what I've read, other games are smarter, and only one entry shows up in the list of Steam games. But, no, this game wasn't designed that way.
It turns out that one of those GTA3 copies is for Microsoft Windows, and the other GTA3 is for OSX.
One of those has never been played.

GTA3 (copy 2, whichever version that happens to be) is likely played by way less than half of the players who see it in their Steam list.

Re:Partial statistics (2)

HBI (604924) | about 3 months ago | (#46775441)

Play Pirates, it was fun in the original "boot up your XT with the floppy" version, good in the mid-90s with "Pirates Gold" and the latest version is pretty much the same deal with better graphics. One of the better games i've ever played.

Re:Partial statistics (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 months ago | (#46776875)

Play Pirates, it was fun in the original "boot up your XT with the floppy"

Yeah, that's the one I have a LOT of nostalgia for and why I expect to play it. :) I've read they've largely kept the original style of the game intact... right down to ship combat and the fencing. Looking forward to it.

Re:Partial statistics (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#46775511)

I noticed things like "Half Life 2: Lost Coast" is very high on the owned by unplayed list. But I think people got that for free as part of HL2 at some point? I know I've got some HL2 add on that I've never touched (too disappointed that it wasn't a full game with an actual ending, so I'm not continuing that franchise). I think I have one or two other things that are in that category.

Also left 4 dead 2 was given away for free not too long ago, though it has a much smaller percentage of "not played". I suspect people grabbed it when it was free without even knowing much about it, tried it a little bit, then stopped because it wasn't their favorite style of game.

Re:Partial statistics (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 3 months ago | (#46778231)

Lost Coast is a graphics demo. Unless you are benchmarking your card or want to play a maybe 15 minute playable level, it's pretty useless. Calling it a game is sort of a lie.

Re:Partial statistics (3, Interesting)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 3 months ago | (#46776645)

It doesn't sound like piracy is making much of a impact to me.

And it likely never did. It was a big bunch of scare mongering, "Oh no the pirates are cutting hard core into our profits!!!!"

There is a basic fact about piracy... most people who pirate software fall into two categories:

1. The group that bought the software, but wants to remove it's DRM.
2. The group that will NEVER buy the software, regardless of price or DRM.

I think Steam proves this. Piracy is still alive and well, yes? So it wasn't a problem of accessibility. Steam erased accessibility issues. Bottom line: Pirates are likely never to be your customers, no matter what.

Re:Partial statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46777233)

Similar, but not quite.

There's a few games which I got the unlimited test version off the interwebs and enjoyed sufficiently to throw the developers a bone and bought it on steam. Since I was halfway through the pirated version I've usually completed that instead. Even if I were to transfer the save (if that's even necessary), Steam wouldn't log the hours I put in under the non-steam version.

Then there's a few games where I have older, non-steam versions kicking around on old and likely scratched to hell CDs but I've bought the steam version as a backup. Those ones (for example, Thief 1 / Metal Age, Deus Ex) I do occasionally fire up but the version I beat was long before steam came out.

Re:Partial statistics (0)

nhat11 (1608159) | about 3 months ago | (#46777861)

Wow Anon, you're such a badass, I want to be like you someday

Re:Partial statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46778307)

... through the crapware layer of the steam launcher.

It's no longer fashionable to hate on Steam, and it's making you look desperate for attention. We get it, Slashdotters don't like DRM, and comments like this are low hanging fruit for positive moderation. Don't focus your hate on Steam. Valve is one of only a few companies that actually understands the role of DRM and the true way to prevent piracy is to just provide a better service.

Surprised... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46773571)

that Defense Grid didn't make the list, I've put over 148 hours into it and would have expected most people that own the game to have done the same. It's the only game on Steam that I have every achievement for.

Re:Surprised... (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 months ago | (#46773905)

that Defense Grid didn't make the list, I've put over 148 hours into it and would have expected most people that own the game to have done the same. It's the only game on Steam that I have every achievement for.

I've got 76 hours on that one, and steam says I've got 57 of 87 of the acheivements. Honestly. I'm impressed that you completed it to 100% some of the expansion pack stuff is pretty brutal.

I think the most interesting thing though about the defense grid stats is 'first blood' ... only 87% of the people steam registers as having played killed even a single alien. So that's 13% who started up the game, and then exited it without doing anything.

Re:Surprised... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46773935)

Get help

Some error on unplayed games (5, Interesting)

richtopia (924742) | about 3 months ago | (#46773581)

Probably not a major factor to the whole study, but there are two issues for detecting the game being played by time played:

1. The time played started being recorded a couple years ago. Games played before that default to zero. For example, I put on probably hundreds of hours of Counter Strike 1.6 in High School, but it is listed as unplayed in my Steam profile

2. I didn't see how they handled game expansions, which are often listed as separate games, but they are unplayed. For Borderlands, I have four additional "games" with no playtime

Re:Some error on unplayed games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46773671)

One would think someone would have reacted when apparently 4 million (or well, they guess at) have bought "Half-life 2: lost coast" without owning Half-life 2 - which is the required base game for the expansion!

Re:Some error on unplayed games (3, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 3 months ago | (#46774481)

"Lost Coast" is a tech demo for HDR lighting, not an expansion. I'm pretty sure you don't have to own HL2 to play it.

Re:Some error on unplayed games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46777037)

Perhaps, but you can't *buy* it on steam unless you also buy half-life 2.

Re:Some error on unplayed games (1)

poity (465672) | about 3 months ago | (#46776507)

Also, people owning worthless games nobody likes because they were bundled in with that one awesome one.

Misleading (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46773591)

I have severa games that I never "purchased" that ended up in my Library. I dont know how they ended up in my Library, but I never paid a cent for them. I researched the issue (I wanted to clean up my library) and found that there was no way to remove them. Also I learned that many other people had the same issue of games magically appearing in their library. Because of this, I am going to assume that the numbers they used for their findings are invalid.

Re:Misleading (2)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 3 months ago | (#46773713)

Valve or individual game developers occasionally mark games as free, and they get pushed out to just about everyone with an account. The article noted that those titles have near-universal ownership but very low play times, since the freebies aren't usually what you choose when deciding what to play.

Re:Misleading (1)

AdamHaun (43173) | about 3 months ago | (#46776257)

Yeah, I have a lot of those too. I even ended up with a duplicate copy of Civ IV and all its expansions, plus games like Sniper Elite and Red Faction: Armageddon that I definitely never purchased. Also, the multiplayer for a lot of games is a separate Steam title.

Hours Played is a bad metric. (4, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 3 months ago | (#46773609)

The 'Hours Played' is a horrible metric. I've left Civ V running for days when I play in the evening, but don't bother quitting when I go to bed and work in the morning, then come home and play for an hour or two in the evening. 6 hours real play, 72 recorded as 'time played'. Same for other games.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (4, Informative)

ledow (319597) | about 3 months ago | (#46773627)

Especially since the trading cards.

I often buy a humble bundle, load up the games, leave them running to "earn" the badges, shut them down, uninstall them. (Then sell the cards, get Steam Wallet cash, buy more games, get more badges, etc....)

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 3 months ago | (#46774023)

Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 3 months ago | (#46776191)

But do you really get more money back from the cards than you pay for the bundles?

You only buy at $1?

Or do it because you kinda want the games anyhow and they become cheaper if you sell the badges?

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

ledow (319597) | about 3 months ago | (#46777013)

I'm not a $1-kind-of-guy. But, yes, I have made profit on the bundles. Especially if you buy quick, get the discount, and get the cards into the market before it gets flooded by all the other sellers.

But I don't buy bundles that don't have at least something worth the money in them, and don't beat-the-average unless there's a game I really want on that side either.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 3 months ago | (#46777343)

You're not a one dollar gut but you don't beat the $ 3.7-7.7 average? =P

For the weekly bundles the second tier is $ 6.

One have to beat $1 to get the Steam keys. I could see how the trading cards may eventually add up to that but harder with say $4.5 on a regular one or $6 on a weekly one.

The again I've only used one game of the what? ~4-500 I've bought so far? (Not all on Steam.)

Externalities (2)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 3 months ago | (#46778059)

Are you sure you're making a profit? Leaving your comp on all the time to accrue playtime hours costs power, though I'm not sure how much it would be costing you. When looking at dollars and cents balancing though, I think it should factor in.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

chihowa (366380) | about 3 months ago | (#46776457)

I've sold the cards just so they go away and stop showing up as unread messages. Which has made me curious. Who is it that is actually buying them?

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46776769)

Buy cards, craft badges, level up, increase the chance of getting booster packs of more cards!

But really it's just people who want badges for their profiles. It's nice, because those of us who don't care get enough pocket change to gift games to friends during sales, those weird people who do care get to make their profiles look good and occasionally get random bonuses from crafting, and Valve always get their cut.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

Rhaban (987410) | about 3 months ago | (#46777211)

I’ve bought 4 cards to complete a badge (for ~10c each), but made a point to only use steam wallet money earned by selling other cards.

I wouldn’t spend actual money on it.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

BoogeyOfTheMan (1256002) | about 3 months ago | (#46777509)

I've spent maybe $5 on cards. And saved close to $50 using the coupons I've gotten from crafting steam badges. Granted some of the coupons were for games I would never buy or wont run on Linux, but I can trade those with friends.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 3 months ago | (#46773699)

I would guess that's a pretty rare thing to do, still. So it shouldn't skew the metrics too much.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | about 3 months ago | (#46773877)

I've had some games clock up hours played just downloading the game.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (2)

aevan (903814) | about 3 months ago | (#46774539)

It's even worse... for games like Dungeons & Dragons or Lord of the Rings, steam launches a launcher...which then sits in the tray to download updates and such. From that launcher, the game can be loaded, and it persists past closing the game.. and that launcher is what steam tracks for 'hours played'. What you end up with is steam informing you that you've played the game 168 hours this week... but you never actually had the game on at all. I'm listed at over 8,000 hours in those games, nowhere near the truth.

Plus, it masks any other games you've loaded in the interim (or at least as far as the steam 'in-game' status). Couple this with that a lot of steam games can be played without launching them through steam, and you're left with a completely disingenuous metric.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 months ago | (#46774617)

It can be skewed the other way, though, by offline mode. I have some games listed as unplayed that I've played to completion, but in offline mode so nothing was recorded.

And then Half-Life 2 can be skewed back up because, at least as of several years ago, Source mods would log as HL2. I don't think that's still the case, but I also don't think they could retroactively fix that data.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (2)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 3 months ago | (#46775477)

I was about to make a comment like this. After playing Civ: V a lot, I had only logged some 40 hours of play!

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46775621)

Same here, I've left several games running for days before I got back to the PC. I've apparently got 100's of hours in Red Faction: Guerilla, I love the game but I get drunk and pass out at some point while playing.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46776923)

And then there is the opposite. Adventure games you play once. They don't accumulate time as replay value is usually low. In this case it would be much more interesting to see how many played the game to the end.

Re:Hours Played is a bad metric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46778339)

The worst offender for Hours Played skew would be TF2. I have something like 4,000 hours logged, but that's because I used to leave TF2 running in "text mode" 24/7 when idling for hats was still a thing. Plenty of people also made alternate accounts for the sole purpose of being able to idle TF2 on multiple accounts at once to increase their efficiency. A friend of mine had something like 6 alternates at one point, which he ran simultaneously.

What makes this especially obvious is that if you look at the stats around the time Valve implemented their first anti-idle procedure (capping the number of item drops per account per week), you'll notice that the number of players online takes a huge nosedive, as does hours played per week. This number got even lower about a year ago when Valve updated the drop system again so that you have to manually accept items for new ones to drop.

Case in point would be me. During the latter two years of college, I ran TF2 for something like 250 hours a week. Once Valve killed idling, I traded everything for a single "unusual" hat (now a single hat worth ~$700) and started playing normally (a few hours a week). Of the 4,000 hours I have logged, I'd say maybe 400 of them are legitimate. This is true for plenty of other people.

Easily solved premise (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46773631)

The premise is a non-starter anyway; how many games do Steam users own? The answer is none. The fact that people can be confused about this should tell you that Valve isn't doing enough to tell users what the terms are.

Still, interesting statistics. The methodology is messed up because Valve only started tracking time with the current system in 2009 and I would've figured that even without that factor, more games would've gone unplayed. The achievements are generally how you tell game completion, so if you look at the "start the game" achievement, you can tell how many have never done any playing. Those ratios are generally in the 50-80% range, so this is probably surprisingly accurate.

Re:Easily solved premise (3, Informative)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 3 months ago | (#46773817)

You do realize, with a good number of games, you can register your 'owened' CD registration number with steam, and then have your game available on your steam account on any computer you are at, without needing to dig out that CD again, right?

Re:Easily solved premise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46773871)

Technically you don't own much of any game. If you go buy some game on cd it's still licensed not owned, they just don't have the technical means to stop you from playing should they choose to revoke your license.

Re:Easily solved premise (0)

LesFerg (452838) | about 3 months ago | (#46774421)

The fact that people can be confused about this should tell you that Valve isn't doing enough to tell users what the terms are.

What a twat. Your purchase cannot be completed without ticking the little checkbox saying you have read and agreed to the terms of the sale.

Re:Easily solved premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46775805)

There's that word again.. "Purchase". Seems people are still confused.

Re:Easily solved premise (1)

LesFerg (452838) | about 3 months ago | (#46776773)

There's that word again.. "Purchase". Seems people are still confused.

What are you confused about? You don't understand purchasing a license to use a game because you prefer to pirate a copy?

Re:Easily solved premise (1)

DrGamez (1134281) | about 3 months ago | (#46774581)

So the EULAs before that state you only have a license to play/use the software - that still counts as "owning" it?

True of many things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46774629)

This is true of anything that requires a license or title. You never own your house nor car for the same reasons. You simply paid for the "right" to possess. When it comes to valuable and necessary property this is a big deal we should all be concerned about... when it comes to video games.. yawn. Nobody is going to care until property rights are restored on things that actually matter.

Magic number! (1)

Rhymoid (3568547) | about 3 months ago | (#46773635)

Since 37% is a pretty magical number in probability theory (exp(-1)), this study might either
  • have hinted that there's a very simple mathematical theory behind the purchase vs. usage of Steam games, or
  • be systematically and deeply flawed.

Some games I have on steam... (1)

rk (6314) | about 3 months ago | (#46773647)

Came in publisher bundles that represented a way to get a bunch of other games I wanted for a lot less than buying them individually would cost. I know there's a racing game I got in one of those that I have never installed and never will just because racing games aren't my cuppa.

Big data, spying? (3, Insightful)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#46773767)

Does Valve know any time I've played such and such games, on which servers and so on? Are data anonymized when surveys or such sociological studies are made?

It is one troubling aspect, or the biggest one. DRM philosophical arguments almost do not matter. When Amazon knows what books you've read, even down to the last page you've viewed for every book (that was in the news about recently) you have a situation that goes further than what the science fiction books and movies from the 60s and 70s and earlier anticipated.

Re:Big data, spying? (2)

ADRA (37398) | about 3 months ago | (#46773873)

This is from Ars Technica, which used sampled statistics from every user's public profile page (it threw out non-public pages as a sample for obvious reasons).
You can bet Valve does know with a lot more accuracy your play habbits. The points is SO WHAT? Where's the Evil part? I know they used countless kill / death spots in TF2 maps years ago in order to help balance the play on those maps and that helped to improve the balance and play. Riot games (League of Legends) has a lot of jobs for Big Data engineers, and you can bet they (and all other multiplayer vendors) are devoting serious effort inot making their games as appealing as possible to the masses.

Re:Big data, spying? (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 3 months ago | (#46776555)

"The points is SO WHAT? Where's the Evil part?"

NSA and other government agencies taking advantage of security holes in steam or infiltrating valve to spy on you and collect data (aka conversations, etc, etc). Anything chained to online DRM naturally leaves you open to being spied on.

Not only that, should valve store sensitive data on their servers about you (studies/etc). This could be stolen by hackers. Online just opens a huge can of worms. You're not thinking about what being exposed to the online world really means. This is why DRM is such a pain in the ass.

Re:Big data, spying? (1)

ildon (413912) | about 3 months ago | (#46777205)

I'm not really sure how your favorite TF2 loadout could constitute "sensitive data." And if you're using Steam's IM feature to send messages you don't want others to read, you should probably stop now because they're not encrypted and everyone on the internet can read them in the clear, not just the NSA.

Re:Big data, spying? (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 3 months ago | (#46773973)

"Does Valve know any time I've played such and such games, on which servers and so on? "

Almost certainly, yes. Typical of any system that keeps logs. Welcome to the Interwebs. Are they handing that data out? Probably not. If you read TFA, you'll see Ars came up with a clever method to scrape data using Steam ID numbers, which they have no way of tying to usernames or real identities. So, pretty anonymous.

Re:Big data, spying? (1)

jwilloug (6402) | about 3 months ago | (#46774325)

Your username is on your profile page, as is your real name if you've chosen to disclose it (but not the Steam account name used to log in). I'm not sure what happens if you link your Facebook account to your Steam profile because oh god who would do that, but the option is there.

Re:Big data, spying? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#46775531)

Hmm, I don't think I have a profile page myself. I wanted to post something in forums once but couldn't without a profile, but I didn't want to create one so I let it slide.

Re:Big data, spying? (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 3 months ago | (#46777121)

Good points, but I doubt anyone who's worried about having their game usage revealed would have their real name in their profile.

Re:Big data, spying? (1)

ildon (413912) | about 3 months ago | (#46777215)

You can put the user ID number into a URL that will bring up your profile page, if it's public. If you don't want your profile info to be public, don't make it public. The data can't be scraped from non-public profile pages.

Re:Big data, spying? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 months ago | (#46774703)

Does Valve know any time I've played such and such games,

Yes, if you are playing in online mode (and maybe only if you launch it through Steam - I'm unsure on that point).

This data is in fact shown on your Steam profile, although you can set that to private to let only certain people see it. That will prevent people outside yourself, your Steam friends list, and Valve itself from seeing it.

on which servers and so on?

If it's using Steamworks, I believe so. They often use this for matchmaking - if people often quit a server after only a few minutes, it's counted as a mark against the server. For some games they record even more detailed stats - I've seen heatmaps of player deaths in Orange Box games.

Games that are merely sold and launched via Steam, but do not integrate with it, most likely have no data other than start/stop playtime.

Are data anonymized when surveys or such sociological studies are made?

Valve's own public data is presented only as a summary. This was an "unofficial" study done by randomly sampling profile pages.

While it is disconcerting, there is one point of interest - while most game developers want to gather data like this (or in even greater detail), they want it so they can make better games, not to sell as advertising data. I've actually never heard that come up in discussions on game metrics (as they call it), and I honestly don't think it would be that useful to any marketers.

Re:Big data, spying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46777253)

How the hell do you expect Amazon to sync your reading position across titles and devices if they don't get that information? If it bothers you, just log out of the device or turn the kindle's wifi off.

This really isn't a shock (2)

DrXym (126579) | about 3 months ago | (#46773811)

Stuff like Day of Defeat would often appear on free weekend demos. It's hardly surprising that people kicked off a download and never got around to playing it. Same for other titles which are multiplayer modes, tech demos and so forth. I also expect the likes of Humble Bundle has meant people have gotten download codes for games they've redeemed but never bothered to run. I know I've a few games in my list which are like that.

No different than smartphone apps (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 3 months ago | (#46773831)

How many of the "millions and millions" of iphone/android apps have only been used a few times. I seem to recall at one point there were about a hundred "flashlight apps" for iphone alone..

Scalded (0, Flamebait)

afs909 (1313683) | about 3 months ago | (#46774115)

I do not use Steam and never will. I set up an account for my son so he could buy a game. After downloading it it would not run and gave an obscure error message. I complained to Steam who said it was the game developer's problem. No response from game developers. So I complained to Paypal and blocked payment. Then I worked out the game needed a better video card, bought one fixed the problem and removed the block on payment. Then Steam blocked access to the Steam Account so my son could not play the game he paid $50 for. Steam ignored my emails yet again and finally unblocked the account a few days later. There was no communications, no apology, nothing. Result: Neither my son nor I will never buy anything that requires Steam again (this applies to CIV 5 that I wanted to purchase). I will not deal with companies that deny access to systems and who are unaccountable for their actions.

Re:Scalded (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46774191)

so if you went to bestbuy, bought the (physical) game box, took it home, installed it and figured out it wouldn't run, would you have called your c/c company to withhold the payment to bestbuy until you were able to run the game? What does Valve have anything to do with a game working or not working? It's not that physical stores allow you to take back opened software nowadays either...

Re:Scalded (4, Informative)

LesFerg (452838) | about 3 months ago | (#46774399)

What does Valve have anything to do with a game working or not working?

Precisely. I don't think I have purchased or even seen a game in recent years that did not come with a listing of prerequisite hardware/software.

If you entered into a purchase, received the goods, then stopped payment, I think Steam have every right to put a hold on the account you used until further information was received. What were you expecting, an apology from them because you didn't read the hardware prerequisites for a product you purchased?

If you don't dick them around, they provide a pretty damned good service.

Re:Scalded (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46777267)

If you don't dick them around, they provide a pretty damned good service.

Until you want to sell anything you purchased from them, and that if you're in Europe, that restriction is illegal and they're about to be dragged through the EU courts over it.

Re:Scalded (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 3 months ago | (#46777309)

Precisely. I don't think I have purchased or even seen a game in recent years that did not come with a listing of prerequisite hardware/software.

"It told me the game required Windows XP or better so I installed Linux."

Re:Scalded (1)

afs909 (1313683) | about 3 months ago | (#46774731)

Thanks for your comment, at least you weren't obnoxious like some below! Totally different situation. If I buy a product from a store that is faulty I can return it - that's the law in Australia. But most shop owners are helpful and will assist you in sorting out the issue. Steam was not helpful and neither were the game developers. All I ask is that if you take my money and you want more money from me then be helpful when I have a problem with a product that you distribute.

Re:Scalded (4, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | about 3 months ago | (#46775153)

so if you went to bestbuy, bought the (physical) game box, took it home, installed it and figured out it wouldn't run, would you have called your c/c company to withhold the payment to bestbuy until you were able to run the game? What does Valve have anything to do with a game working or not working? It's not that physical stores allow you to take back opened software nowadays either...

If he had gotten it from Best Buy he'd have basic consumer rights to refund, a working product, etc. enforced by policy and executed by a human (be it a sales associate, manager, whoever).
If he had gotten it from best Buy he would have received actual human interaction when first complaining about it. Best Buy may be a joke and the Geek Squad may be a ripoff, but the mere presence of a human being who has some idea of how to troubleshoot shit, or at least whose job it is to keep customers happy, is about 87 miles ahead of Steam's "support".

Steam support simply doesn't exist unless you threaten to issue a chargeback or sue. No human at Valve even SEES your support ticket until 2 automated "solutions" are generated and spit out - 1 blaming your ISP and 1 telling you to delete clientregistry.blob or reinstall Steam. After that they blame the developer and close your ticket.

Re:Scalded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46775773)

Uh, no.

You may want to look into those basic consumer rights.

Re:Scalded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46774295)

WWWWWWWAAAHHHH! I didn't read the Terms of Service for Steam (specifically, the part that tells you if you reverse payment on them - they can and will block your account and any games forever and ever, reversible at their discretion) and got butt-hurt when I put out a charge-back and got smacked for it!

Grow a fuckin' pair, dude. You should not have been allowed to reproduce.

Re:Scalded (1)

afs909 (1313683) | about 3 months ago | (#46774645)

Please re-read the comment. Steam stopped access to the service AFTER the payment stop had been CLEARED! The payment is for the game, not the service. And there is no need to be such an A@#$%@#$e

Re:Scalded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46775195)

WWWWWWWAAAHHHH! I didn't read the Terms of Service for Steam (specifically, the part that tells you if you reverse payment on them - they can and will block your account and any games forever and ever, reversible at their discretion) and got butt-hurt when I put out a charge-back and got smacked for it!

Grow a fuckin' pair, dude. You should not have been allowed to reproduce.

Steam was breaking the law by doing that. They recently changed it to blocking all future purchases and access to Steam social features and other shit while still allowing access to previous purchases. In part because of people like me who fucking stood up for their fucking rights and were willing to take legal action.

So please shut the fuck up with your corporate cock sucking. No "Terms of Service" trump the basic expectation to use what you fucking paid for.

Re:Scalded (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46774337)

The first one exploded and blew my hand off. The next one killed my dog and sterilized my nuts.

Overall I was left with a really bad feeling about all Vavle products, which obviously must all have similar defects. Anecdotes by unverifiable semi-anonymous internet posters prove that to be true.

Re:Scalded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46774447)

Nice try. We might have even believed your story if it weren't for your one critical mistake. You actually thought we would believe you have a child?

Re:Scalded (1)

afs909 (1313683) | about 3 months ago | (#46774689)

Story is true regardless of your scepticism. Reading replies like this makes me wonder why I bother reading slashdot at all - Oh yeah I forgot, it was for the entertainment value. The point was, you are paying for a service you have absolutely no control over and from a service provider that just wants your money without being at all helpful.

Re:Scalded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46775427)

Shorter version of your statement: I can't read requirements, and am an entitled twat because of it.

Re:Scalded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46775851)

If the listed requirements were wrong, it wouldn't be the first time. But of course, you just jump to conclusions so you can sling attacks at others in an attempt to make yourself feel better, right?

Re:Scalded (0)

afs909 (1313683) | about 3 months ago | (#46776199)

If you don't have something useful or intelligent to say then...... Again, read it again and stop and think before shooting your insulting uneducated mouth off.

Re:Scalded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46776185)

SO you bought a game that didn't work because you didn't have the right software. So you complained to Steam. Who directed you to the game developer. You didn't mention how long or how hard you tried to "contact" the game developer. At any rate you blocked your card payment. And kept the game. Because after you "fixed" the problem on your end, you played the game successfully. Then you "unblocked" the payment (which I've never heard of when doing a charge-back on a card). In the mean time Steam blocked your account for failure to pay. And then after you complained again, Steam unlocked your account. But they didn't apologize to you because you didn't have the right video card apparently, after which you blocked their payment. Somehow this was their fault and they should have apologized to you. They didn't and now you will "never buy anything that requires again". You will not deal with companies that deny access to systems and who are unaccountable for their actions. Except Steam DID allow you access to their systems, and ultimately was accountable for YOUR HARDWARE PROBLEM. Hmm sounds fair! Good story.

Wonder how this would look adjusted for game age (1)

He Who Has No Name (768306) | about 3 months ago | (#46774197)

Because I'm neither surprised that almost everybody has a bundled copy of Ricochet, nor that basically nobody plays it.

Hell, nobody played it when WON was still online, and that was over a decade ago.

Steam Downtime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46774425)

So, are these the assholes that keep bringing Steam down?

Not the interesting part (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46775025)

The interesting part is how successful those smaller games are in terms of sales numbers. Steam's been a good outlet for small indie projects lately, and some data showing the odds of success on the platform (and maybe some useful tips as to why certain games were successful) is key, because it will help illustrate how likely you are to succeed on the platform.

As much as I like GOG or other non-DRM sites, Steam still has an exponentially bigger reach.

Humble Bundle and 37%of games are never played (2)

Mike G (3619063) | about 3 months ago | (#46775181)

That 37% sounds about right for me. I've purchased a couple Humble Bundles for one or two specific games, and in the process acquired a number of other games which I never play, and never intend to play. I'm probably not alone.

Re:Humble Bundle and 37%of games are never played (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46777019)

I always redeem my Humble Bundle games through Steam, but never actually play them that way.

I only bother to redeem them as yet another backup in case something happens where Humble disappears and my own backups of installers are destroyed. Which is damned unlikely, but since it doesn't cost me anything extra to have what amounts to yet another backup, why not?

Interesting numbers (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 months ago | (#46775821)

According to steam:

Out of 2,750 titles tracked 4% were interesting/playable to gamers using steam.
I wonder why people are discouraged about buying games without playing them first.

That 4%, the top 110 games, have made approximately $8,000,000,000. And that is just 50% of the sales numbers, "represents about 50 percent of the registered sales on the service".
It doesn't sound like piracy is making much of a impact to me.

Steam hours played are made up anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46776259)

The hours played metric on steam games fluctuates wildly for no apparent reason whether you're playing a game or not. I've seen games that I've barely played an hour of claim hundreds of hours one day and .2 hours another, without even being installed during that time.

Off Topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46777339)

My 12 year old son got VAC banned recently. His 13 year old cousin convinced him to change the name of a file to something that matched a cheat client signature. BAM! Permanant ban. No recourse available. Valve is judge, jury and exocutioner. All games bought with this account are now unable to connect to VAC secured servers from now on. I'm not happy with my son or nephew, but kids do stupid things sometimes. That Valve are willing and able to do this disturbs me greatly. What percentage of people who get VAC banned are perfectly innocent? 1%? 10%? Too fucking bad for them apparently. Valve is taking a tough stance on cheaters so you can just eat shit...but don't forget to create another account and buy all your games again!
Fucking corporations...they'll fuck you every time. Don't trust any of them!

Re:Off Topic (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46777555)

All games bought with this account are now unable to connect to VAC secured servers from now on.

This is actually not true. VAC bans are specific to a single game, or at worst a group of similar games that use the same engine (for example, multiplayer games using the Source engine).

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