Valve’s digital distribution service Steam has raised its record concurrent user figure by a million for the third year in a row.
Steam statistics shows that nearly 7.2 million PC gamers logged in to the service simultaneously today, up from six million at about the same time last year and five million the year before that.
Steam is the second most popular online gaming service with over 65 million registered users, beaten only by Sony’s PlayStation Network – last reported to have around 110 million users.
This beats Xbox Live (48 million users at last count) by a long shot, and even more when you consider that only half of those accounts were reported to be paying Gold members in 2010.
Steam increased its user base by around 30 percent over the last year, and it’s about to get another big draw when Valve’s Steam boxes arrive on store shelves.
If you notice the gap between Xbox Live and PlayStation network accounts, it’s not a big leap to assume the biggest draw to Sony’s network has been the free online multiplayer.
Since the new PlayStation 4 requires a PlayStation Plus subscription for online matchmaking, Valve will enter the living room already armed with the second largest and only entirely free multiplayer service on the market.
Though Valve admits it hasn’t yet found a way to play the most popular game on its service – the wildly popular MOBA Defense of the Ancients 2 – without a mouse and keyboard, the increased variety of games and more competitive price points could very well make the living room PC a serious contender.
For now though, it doesn’t look like the growing popularity of Steam has dampened gamer’s enthusiasm for next generation consoles.