In our most recent Global Internet Phenomena Report we examined how a Call of Duty DLC release caused XBOX traffic to spike to 12% of traffic on the day of its release.
But what about PC Gamers?
There are many avenues for PC gamers to download titles, but based on our observations from numerous global networks Valve’s Steam store is the unquestioned leader in user base and traffic share.
On many networks around the globe, Steam accounts for 1-3% of downstream traffic in the peak evening hours. The exception to those figures comes either when an anticipated game is released (Grand Theft Auto V) or the two times a year (typically winter and summer) when Steam launches one of their highly anticipated Steam sales.
Below you will see data from one North American fixed access operator, observing the Steam sale that began on June 11. Unlike single game releases, it appears that Steam sales don’t cause a single huge spike in Steam traffic, but actually elevates it to be two to three times it typical levels for a prolonged period. In this particular network it means that Steam has accounted for approximately 5% of traffic during the peak evening hours each day since the sale started.
One feature of the Steam sale is that new games go on sale every day at 1pm ET. In the chart you can see that there are small traffic share surges at approximately this time every day, as users refresh the client and being downloading the latest games to go on sale. You then see prolonged increased traffic share in the later afternoon and evening hours as people begin to come home from work or school to download games on their computers.
Steam sales are a big deal for gamers, but not yet a big deal for operators, but that could soon change. As seen in a screen capture from a European operator, the user base of digital game distribution stores for both consoles and PCs is trending up.
If this trend continues, it will be very interesting to see the impact Steam sales have in the future, and how network operators will begin to plan for their arrival.