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Backlog by the numbers - 37% of all purchased Steam games have never been played

Jonathan Lester
PC, PC games, Steam, Valve

Backlog by the numbers - 37% of all purchased Steam games have never been played

We've all got a Steam backlog. No matter how fastidious or frugal you are, those Humble Bundles and Christmas sales are just too tasty to resist.

Don't deny it - and don't worry, because you're in good company. In fact, it transpires that almost 37% of all Steam games ever purchased have never been played or even installed.

Ars Technica broke the news after conducting an extensive poll (extensive is a massive understatement, including 80-90,000 users per day for two solid months). A whopping 36.9% of games have simply not been accessed or tried out once, a figure that becomes even more depressing when combined with the 17% of games that are played for less than an hour. That's right, over 50% of Steam games have been played for 60 minutes or less, if at all.

Many are freebies and bundle casualties, of course, while Steam's lack of quality control has a lot to answer for. As do their  cheap prices and our lust for value, even if we know we don't have the time. Here's the pie chart:

Backlog by the numbers - 37% of all purchased Steam games have never been played

We can also pull some more interesting metrics out of our Ars (Technica). They've compiled a list of the most popular games on Steam, which is unsurprisingly dominated by Valve-developed titles. Dota 2 tops the list (well, technically everyone owns it), alongside TF2 and Half-Life 2. Again, though, it's amazing to see how many players own some of these games, yet have never installed or clicked the 'play' button once.

Backlog by the numbers - 37% of all purchased Steam games have never been played

If you're interested in Steam, be sure to read Ars Technica's full report. It's absolutely fascinating stuff.

Are you a Steam sale addict? Have a serious backlog and need some advice clearing it? Let us know in the comments!

Add a comment8 comments
Late  Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:09

I'm not surprised by these figures. Like you say, these value bundles are padding out everyone's collection.

Hell, when I finally got round to installing Steam for the first time, in December 2013, I had dozens of games already. I'd pick up bundles and good deals in anticipation of playing them.
I think I've probably got something like 120 games in my Steam library now.
Around 4 or 5 of them will have been played "properly" (around 5 hours on each), another 10 or so I've had a quick look at for an hour or less, another 10 or so I've got downloaded ready to try out some time, and the others (close to 100) I've not looked at nor downloaded.

Last edited by Late, Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:23
JonLester  Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:25

Cheers for the tip RE the incomplete sentence, Late, not to mention the classy comment edit too!

Madness, isn't it? We all own so many games, yet it's always more fun to buy something new than complete the ones we have. Kinda like an addiction in that respect *stops thinking about that immediately*

Late  Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:33

TBH Microsoft's starting to head that way (I download all of their free games to my 360, but have only played maybe 2 or 3 of them), and Android are probably in a similar position (I've probably downloaded over a hundred games, most free but a fair few paid, yet played only half of them).

Ooh, look - it's cheap. I must buy that, and never play it, because it's a bargain. We're all morons.

Still - we're morons who'll never run out of games to play! :D

MattGardner  Apr. 16, 2014 at 14:12

That nearly half the people who bought Half-Life 2 haven't played it really saddens me :|

Late  Apr. 16, 2014 at 14:29

It doesn't necessarily mean they've not played them, though. It just means they haven't played them via the client.

I've got HL2 in my library, unplayed and undownloaded (I may have invented a word, there), but I played it way back on my pc and years later played it again on the xb360...

Edit: To clarify, I bought HL2 as part of a bundle, because I wanted to play the Portal games again. I didn't just buy HL2 specifically to stick it in my library untouched.

Last edited by Late, Apr. 16, 2014 at 14:31
socialjeebus  Apr. 16, 2014 at 14:38

Hear, hear.

I have, as of today (bought the Toxic bundle from Bundle Stars, partially for Darkout, mainly because it was a bundle) 477 games in my Steam library and despite installing a reasonably impressive 143 - I've played, perhaps, less than 20. Even then I've probably only played around 10 meaningfully.

I always find some spurious excuse to buy the most mediocre of bundles.

Then, following buyer's remorse, say I'll lay off for a while and yet the very next bundle I'm usually first in the queue.

Last edited by socialjeebus, Apr. 16, 2014 at 14:39
Rubisco  Apr. 17, 2014 at 02:08

I wonder if a significant proportion of games that give trading cards have been played* for between 1 and 2 hours.

*idled ;)

RiKx  Apr. 19, 2014 at 16:35

That nearly half the people who bought Half-Life 2 haven't played it really saddens me :|

Me too :(

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