We're all guilty of occasionally shutting in for a few days and just immersing ourselves in games while losing track of time. Sometimes it's because we want to beat one or more new titles, other situations just ask for a larger dose of escapism. But to beat all of 2020's Steam releases, we'd need to finish about 825 games per month, which is an undertaking that'd likely prove too much even for the most valiant gamer.
The significant number of Steam releases has been the topic of heated discussion for years now. Gone are the storefront's early days, when navigating its wonky interface only revealed a handful of games, alongside Valve's flagship titles (Half-Life: Alyx sort of ruined the "remember when Valve still did games?" joke which would otherwise have found its place here). Nowadays, Steam is a veritable behemoth and 2020 brought as many as 9899 new ones to it.
The figure comes from data found on website Steam Releases and paints a dire picture for those who think 2019 brought too many games to Steam. Admittedly, the list there doesn't include Doom Eternal's The Ancient Gods Part 1 and similar DLC, but it paints a clear enough picture: at least 1855 more games became available to users in 2020 than in 2019, when "only" 8044 titles were released on Steam.
October 2020 was the month with the most new games (991), while launches "slowed down" in March, when 704 games made their way onto the storefront. September was the month with most releases in 2019 (742), April landing on the low end with just 554 released. We're sure you can spot the difference.
It's ludicrous to even consider hoping to play through a good chunk of everything that's on offer, but the consistently high number of new games continues to highlight one of the storefront's long-standing issues: finding releases that don't benefit from massive marketing campaigns among all this bloat. As expected, 2020's Steam releases stretch from one side of the spectrum to the other, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Scrolling towards the bottom of each month's lists, you'll still find the odd asset flip (premade assets bought and repackaged as a "new" game). These are part of a tradition widespread during the days of Steam Greenlight and which Steam Direct failed to address, even with its $100 fee per listed game. Other games, simply don't seem to do enough to warrant their spot on the platform, which often results in nobody finding out about them.
But this deluge of unnecessary games makes it considerably harder for the next Among Us or Stephen's Sausage Roll to pop up in the search suggestions or discovery queues of people looking for such games. This way, they have to rely a little too much on sheer luck or suddenly blowing up on media sites to gain the popularity they deserve.
Admittedly, Valve has worked on giving the store a facelift, adding tags, filters and category searches to increase the likelihood of finding such games. Experimental features can push this in a good direction in the long run, but going through the Upcoming Releases section still throws your way more games you'd rather not see. Nobody's expecting perfect results, but the scales are currently tipped too much in a direction that's far from ideal.
It'll be interesting to see how 2021 will compare to 2020 and its 9899 Steam releases. Meanwhile, we'll be busy making a cloning machine out of cardboard and gum just to prove ourselves wrong about not being able to beat 825 games in a month.
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