54 per cent of Steam games played for less than an hour

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More than half of all the games ever bought on Steam have only been played for an hour or less. That’s according to new stats unearthed by Ars Technica when it did some digging into player profiles, also discovering some other surprising facts about our Steam buying (and playing) habits.

For example, 37 per cent of all games bought have never been played. While that number might seem high, consider the amount of games you’ve bought as part of bundles, or special sales packs, just because the deal was good – not necessarily because you wanted to play the game right then, though maybe you will later. It often doesn’t turn out that way though and the game just sits there in your collection, gathering digital dust.

However if you look at the most owned games, the percentages of players that actually take some time to play them rises dramatically. In the case of DotA 2, the most owned Steam game of them all, essentially 100 per cent of downloaders have at least tried it out. The same goes for Team Fortress 2, the second most “owned” Steam game. But those are both free, which perhaps suggests why they’re so popular, though not necessarily why people actually install them and play, at least for a bit.

stats 54 per cent of Steam games played for less than an hour
Source: Ars

However it does tell us that player numbers are more accurate in measuring a game’s popularity, than purchase numbers which can have a big difference when compared. While games like Half Life: Lost Coast have an install base that breaks 12 million, it’s player numbers are woefully low (though not tracked until after 2009, which might partly explain why). While Terraria and Planetside 2 may not have such impressive install numbers, they do have over 3.5 million plays a piece.

But when you look at hours played per game, the RPGs and grand strategy games start to dominate. While DotA 2 and Team Fortress 2 top the charts again, Skyrim makes a big splash, likewise Empire: Total War and Sid Meier’s Civilisation.

Do you want to know what game people spend the most time on though, beyond any other? The mean and the median average title with the most time spent on any game, is Football Manager 2014. By far. In terms of the median number of game hours, it almost doubles that of Skyrim.

KitGuru Says: There’s a load of other interesting stats to be found in the Ars piece, so make sure you check it out if you’re a bit of a stat nerd. 

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  • Anthony

    I have a lot of games I haven’t played yet. But that’s because it takes forever to download games (4mb/s internet). I always prefer buying retail just for that reason. But sometimes steam specials are just so tempting, so I have a backlog of games to download

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  • zavier

    Personally I’ve got 7 games on steam I’ve never played which include:
    Batman: Arkham Origins, Overlord II, Dirt ShowDown.
    13 Games I’ve played < 1 hour:
    AntiChamber, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, Dust: An Elysian Tail.
    and games like Thief = 11.6 Hours, Sanctum 2: 4 hours, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams = 2.6 hours.
    But mainly play BF4 now with a total of 10 hours

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  • Rob W

    Football manage is so high because people leave it running while they go do other things. I used to have it running all the time. Haven’t played it in a while, kinda makes me want to try the new one out.

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  • http://www.johnwordsworth.com John Wordsworth

    I expect a large number of the unplayed games were purchased as part of a bundle. Having purchased most of the Humble Bundle deals I must have 40-50 indie games on Steam which I purchased due to wanting only one or two of each pack. Sure, I’ve fired up some of the other games in those bundles, but not for many minutes. A few of them just don’t interest me at all.

    Similarly, you can purchase publisher packs during Steam sales and I expect the same thing occurs there. I’ve only purchased one publisher bundle before, but during an Xmas sale, the bundle was 80% off and I bought it for maybe 3 or 4 out of the 15 or so games in the bundle. Some of which I never intend to launch (especially older versions of more modern games).

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  • ZachLagrutta

    I have 33 games on steam. 10 of them have 20+ hours on them, 3 have 100+ Hours, the rest I bought on steam sale for over half price which I will eventually play. It’s those steam sales that get your. Buy 2-3 games at a time for 50-75% off each and they just sit there till I want to play them.

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