A survey conducted by Ars Technica has determined that about 37 per cent of all games owned by Steam users are bought but never even loaded. That's over a third of the games owned by Mr Average Steam user. It seems like Steam Sale bargain hunters like to snag titles when the price is right just to hoard for future rainy days – which never come.
After loads of waffle Ars reveals how its survey was conducted; in a nutshell every Steam user has an anonymous URL which gives access to his/her gaming titles and stats. Ars wrote a little PHP/MySQL code to harvest data from some of these numerically suffixed URLs, at random, over the last few months. From the 172 million Steam IDs currently registered Ars took a sample of about 80 to 90,000 accounts every day to form this statistical research. Apparently the applied technique over the time taken results in a margin of error of just 0.33 per cent, so these figures should give a pretty good indication of the true average Steam user.
Recently Ars tested its sampling technique data against game launch press releases stating that X number of games have been sold in a week – you know the kind of thing. Its sampling method gave very similar numbers to the DayZ an Rust Steam sales amounts in press releases, albeit with a bit of a lag behind the announcements. Meanwhile other developers have privately shared their sales data with Ars to help it become more confident in its figures.
A number of interesting charts have been published by Ars to illustrate the depth and breadth of what its findings are. Other key standout stats beyond the 37 per cent owned but never played statistic include;
- 100 games from the 2,750 library of titles available make up half of all sales
- DOTA players have on aggregate spent 3.8 billion hours in the game
- Steam users spend 600 per cent more time in multiplayer mode on Modern Warfare 2 rather than the single player mode
- The most owned non-Valve title is Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – at position 14
- Sega's Football Manager 2014 is a runaway success in player devotion
I must confess to having a pretty big Steam library which is largely not downloaded to my PC. Also of those downloaded there is again, a large proportion which have been run just the once.