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Another year over, a new one just begun, which means, impossibly, even more games. But what about last year? Which were the games that most people were buying and, more importantly, playing? As is now something of a tradition, Valve have let slip a big ol’ breakdown of the most successful titles released on Steam over the past twelve months.
Below is the full, hundred-strong roster, complete with links to our coverage if you want to find out more about any of the games, or simply to marvel at how much seemed to happen in the space of 52 short weeks.
They’ve got a few extra categories to browse over on Steam, including top new releases by month, the top-selling VR games (no comment) and the best-peforming graduates from the early access programme. The one we’re most interested in, though, is ‘top sellers’, which covers the games with the most gross revenue – i.e. including DLC sales, which is why there are a fair few free-to-play entries. This gives us a pretty clear sense of what people were most keen to play last year.
Valve don’t provide individual ranks for these games – so we don’t know, for instance, if Plunkbat ultimately sold more copies than CSGO did – but instead has arranged them into olden hit record-themed categories. Without knowing exactly what the criteria for each of these is, my guess is ‘owns a mansion on every continent’ – ‘takes regular private helicopter rides’ – ‘has live-in staff’ – ‘owns a Tesla’.
Without further ado, here we go. At the end of it all, I’ve rounded it up into a few key info-stats that give us a better sense of the shape of PC gaming in 2017.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The latest incarnation of Valve’s deathless team shooter.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Ubisoft’s military shooter continues to do the business two years after release.
The sometime DayZ-rivalling survivo-multiplayer game from Daybreak Studios.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Open-world tactical shooting, again from the house of Ubi.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projeckt’s sprawling, beautiful, dirty fantasy RPG.
Instantly accessible car-football fun from Psyonix.
Never heard of it.
ARK: Survival Evolved
Online dinosaur-bothering and survival.
Dota 2 (F2P)
Valve’s own take on the Warcraft III-derived moba.
Divinity: Original Sin II
Larian Studios hit big again with this traditional but expansive fantasy RPG.
Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar can spare a dime or two.
Digital Extreme’s free-to-play sci-fi MMO shooter, which saw some big updates over 2017.
Bethesda’s sandbox, combat-heavy post-apocalyptic RPG.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
The latest bout of turn-based world-ruling from Firaxis.
Square Enix’s heartstring-tugging and reflex-testing robo-everything game.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
Bethesda take the series that gave us Skyrim online – last year it returned to Morrowind, too.
Tactical military simulation at a huge scale from Bohemia Interactive.
Sci-fi 4X from Paradox.
Assaassin’s Creed Origins
Egypt-set shenanigans from Ubisoft’s parkour and daggers series.
Vikings vs Samurai vs knights in this online brawler from Ubisoft.
Call of Duty: WWII
Activision and Sledgehammer return COD to its ’40s roots.
Total War: Warhammer
Sega/Creative Assembly meld the historical strategy series with Games Workshop goblins et al.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Sequel to Warner and Monolith’s Shadow of Mordor, a Lord of the Rings game about vengeful orcs.
Dark Souls III
The final bow for From Software’s peerless RPG/metroidvania.
Final Fantasy XIV Online
MMO spin-off of Square Enix’s JRPG monolith.
Total War: Warhammer II
The recent sequel – earning less than its predecessor, interestingly.
Vintage animation-themed hardcore platform action game.
War Thunder (F2P)
Gaijin Entertainment’s free to play military vehicle MMO.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Capcom’s cabin in the woods-themed reinvention of the age-old Resi series.
Team Fortress 2 (F2P)
Valve’s stalwart online team shooter/hat collection simulator.
Black Desert Online
Big ol’ fantasy MMORPG with tons of living world stuff in addition to monster-bothering.
Path of Exile (F2P)
Hardcore, microtransacted ARPG in the Diablo vein.
Big pecs and swinging dicks in Funcom’s second bite of the Conan MMO cherry – this time as a survival affair.
Dead By Daylight
Serial killer-themed multiplayer/co-op survival game.
Paradox and Collossal out-SimCity SimCity with their own town-building sim.
Euro Truck Simulator 2
Surprisingly zen-like haulage game/road trip bonanza.
The folk behind Garry’s Mod continue to make hay with their own online survival’n’sadism game.
Sniper Elite 4
Rebellion’s stealthy, slightly sandboxy World War II shooter.
Firaxis’ turn-based, alien-battlin’ strategy sequel, which had a huge expansion in 2017’s War of the Chosen.
Elite studio Frontier take a break from space with this theme park building game.
Europa Universalis IV
Empire-building grand strategy from Paradox.
Oxygen Not Included
Space colony sim from Klei.
Tranquil farm’n’trade game in which you can pretend real life is not absolutely horrible.
Half-Life 2 engine-powered DIY tomfoolery.
Hearts of Iron IV
WW2 grand strategy from Paradox.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Ubisoft’s post-apocalyptic, sandbox online game.
The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth
Twin-stick roguelike themed around gore and twisted religion.
Age of Empires II: HD Edition
Remake of Microsoft’s vintage historical RTS.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Square Enix and Crystal Dynamic’s latest Lara.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Olden COD, with a near-future theme.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse II
Anime-adapting multiplayer battler.
Just Cause 3
Sandbox, grappling hook-heavy carnage from Avalanche and Square Enix.
Don’t Starve Together
Klei take their scratchy survival game online.
Deep-sea survival and building from the makers of Natural Selection.
Colony management game with a million stories.
IO Interactive’s glorious redemption song for Agent 47.
Namco’s latest, glossiest version of the beloved fighting game series, now with even more absurd costumes.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Bethesda and Machine Games’ half-soulful, half-frenzied alt-history FPS.
7 Days To Die
Surviving and crafting mid-zombie apocalypse.
Another ancient FPS reinvention from Bethesda, high-speed in a very different way to its revered predecessor.
Sid Meier’s Civilization V
2010-vintage empire-building turn-based strategy from Firaxis.
Classical action RPG, which left early access in 2017.
Murderous cannibal-themed surivo-craft ’em up.
Free-to-play moba from Hi-Rez Studios.
Left 4 Dead 2
Valve’s co-op zombie-shooter, from way back when in 2009.
Overkill and Starbreeze’s co-op, heist-themed shooter.
Bethesda and Arkane’s delectable follow-up to the choose-your-path, stealth-or-chaos whalepunk classic.
Football Manager 2017
The version before last of Sports Interactive’s sheepskin coat sim.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Ninja Theory’s beautiful and dark, dark, very dark third-person fighter.
Free to play, toonish, Overwatch-rivalling team shooter from Hi-Rez.
Tales Of Berseria
Story-heavy JRPG from Bandai Namco, making its first bow on PC.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Ubisoft’s comedy’n’controversy RPG, based on the show.
theHunter: Call of the Wild
Wildlife murder simulator.
Jolly, viking-themed RTS.
Football Manager 2018
And this is the newest Allardyce simulator.
Mysteriously successful desktop wallpaper-finding and-creating application.
Farming Simulator 17
Mad Skill | No Plow | 360 Crop Rotation |
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
The older, same say stronger LOTR battler from Warner.
Sandboxy single-player zombie survival game from Techland.
Basket-to-ball, this being the 2016 release.
Gearbox and 2K’s cell-shaded FPS-ARPG mash-up.
Shadowverse CCG (F2P)
An anime-style collectible card game that we have never actually posted about before now.
Ubisoft’s more light-hearted sandbox hacking and killing sequel.
Bethesda and Arkane’s latter-day System Shocklike.
Crusader Kings II
Olden monarchy-themed historical strategy from Paradox.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III
Much-anticipated but divisive sequel to Relic’s 40K RTS classics.
The Sims 3
EA are literally burning money by not putting The Sims 4 on Steam.
And here’s the 2017 release of 2K’s basketball series.
Impossible machine-building that changes the way you think.
Endless Space 2
Sega and Amplitude’s sci-fi Civlike sequel.
Proc-gen space exploration and construction.
Killing Floor 2
Co-op, high-gore zombie-slaying.
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
Realism-focused historical multiplayer shooter.
Friday The 13th: The Game
Jason Vorhees in a surprisingly good, though buggy, asynchronous online game.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Will 2018 be the year of Elder Scrolls VI?
Frontier’s sprawling sandbox spaceship MMO.
Madness and perversion abide in this squad-based roguelite.
Right, let’s do some maths.
Most successful publishers*:
Ubisoft – 7
Bethesda – 7
Sega – 6
Paradox – 5
Valve – 4
*Purely based on number of entries. Total monies earned is an entirely different matter, which we have not been given data for.
Big publisher vs ‘indie’ split:
Note – this ratio could vary by up to 10 titles in either direction depending on your definition of the increasingly useless term ‘indie’, so let’s use it only as a working approximation.
Games primarily about killing things vs games not primarily about killing things
Well, those are the games that made the most money, but a slightly different and arguably more meaningful metric is which games most people are playing. I won’t do so many entries here or I’ll go mad, but here’s the top ten. No new names from the above in there, but these offer a good insight into how the Steam playerbase en masse tends to think. Guns/online/hats, in the main. The only game here that isn’t a shooter is Dota 2.
Games with over 100,000 simultaneous players
- Ark: Survival Evolved
- Dota 2
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
- Payday 2
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
You can find a few more, in the 50,000/25,000/15,000 cateogries here, and those do house a few games that aren’t in the bestselling list. To save you a click, those are Absolver, Total War RoMe II, Clicker Heroes, Elex, No Man’s Sky, World of Tanks, Portal 2, Mount and Blade Warband, Deceit, Yi Gi Oh!, Life Is Strange: Before The Storm and Starbound.
Which leaves me with just one last piece of extremely important information to share with you before we get on with 2018 in earnest:
Happy new year, chums.