The best selling Steam games, and most played games, of 2021 – Polygon
As 2021 draws to a close, Valve has published Steam’s annual best of lists, revealing this year’s top sellers, top new releases, most-played games, and more. Valve’s data shows that many of Steam’s most popular games on any given day, including nearly decade-old titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Grand Theft Auto 5, continue to outsell and be played more than newcomers to the PC platform.
Each list from Valve’s end-of-year wrap-up contains a handful of games with their orders randomly listed, so it’s not clear which individual game was the best-selling or most-played in a particular category. Games in the Platinum tier are in the top 12, with Gold-tier games accounting for ranks 13-24. Silver games are ranks 25 through 40 and bronze tier games account for ranks 41-100. These lists come from internal Valve data starting on Jan. 1, 2021 and ending Dec. 15, 2021.
The most important item on Steam’s best of 2021 list is the top sellers, letting players know what the most successful games of the year were. The Platinum-tier 2021 Best Selling Games were, in a random order provided by Valve:
In a blog post, Valve called out some interesting repeat offenders. Dota 2, CS:GO, and GTA5 have all made the top sellers list for six years running, with PUBG: Battlegrounds and Rainbow Six Siege each on the list for their fifth time in a row. Destiny 2 has made the list three years running, with 2019 being its first year on Steam after moving off of Blizzard’s Battle.net.
There are a few first-time winners on the list as well. New games like Battlefield 2042, New World, and Valheim all grace the list. Apex Legends is also notable, as its a non-2021 game that made its Steam debut late last year.
New releases is another interesting category, highlighting the top 25 new games of the year. The Platinum-tier 2021 Top New Releases, in a random order provided by Valve:
Valve also offered a breakdown of the months the new releases appeared in compared to 2020. Last year had a decent March and some strong fall months. 2021 was a bit more sporadic, with three big months with four or five entrants each: May, September, and November.
Finally, we’ll look at the most-played games on Steam, which is broken into multiple categories by concurrent players. Here are the 2021 games that cracked 200,000 concurrent players, randomly ordered by Valve:
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- New World
- Dota 2
- PUBG: Battlegrounds
- Apex Legends
- Halo Infinite
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Grand Theft Auto 5
Many of these games appeared on last year’s list, including Dota 2, GTA5, PUBG, and CS:GO. Rust is a graduate from the 100,000 list from last year, giving it an even better 2021 than 2020.
Several of last year’s 200K games have also fallen to lower categories. Destiny 2 and Among Us fell into the 100K category in 2021 after making the top list last year. 2020 200K game Terraria fell to the 60K list. Monster Hunter: World, another top played game of 2020, plummeted to the 30K list. Life is Strange 2 and Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord, both 200K games in 2020, don’t appear anywhere on the most-played games of 2021.
The best of 2021 Steam list also offers some additional categories we won’t list out here. If you’re interested in top early access graduates, top-selling VR games, and top controller games, you can check out Valve’s official blog post.