10. Destiny 2 – 213,681 +
Destiny 2’s concurrent numbers over the past twelve months are actually far higher than what we’ve got listed here if you were to count its performance across consoles as well as PC.
Our 213, 681 figure is purely based on Steam numbers, but we’d wager the number would at least treble with the platforms added to the mix. Sadly, we don’t have that data, but it’s fair to say that developer Bungie’s shooter/RPG hybrid is likely to continue dominating the genre for years to come.
Particularly so, given that Bungie now has the final say on the direction of content moving forward now that it has split with Activision. Free from the shackles of its publishing overlords, there’s a renewed sense of enthusiasm among the community and we get the sense that Bungie is determined to deliver on its vision to realize a plethora of content for Destiny 2 moving forward.
9. Grand Theft Auto V – 260,562 (Steam)
Somehow, seven years after its launch on the previous console generation, Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V is still among the world’s most-played games. It’s a seemingly unstoppable force that regularly finds itself among the top 10 best-selling games each month.
Within the past six months its seen peak concurrent players exceeding 260,000, which is just incredible considering its not a competitive PvP experience, which we’d typically associate with high concurrent player numbers.
Apparently, GTAV is a mandatory purchase for new console and PC players, and with so much content having been added since launch, we’re expecting the game to continue posting impressive numbers throughout 2021.
8. Dota 2 – 801,121
A sentiment that’s long been taken for granted is that the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre is dying. But while it’s true that MOBA games aren’t seeing growth like they once were, don’t for a second think that they aren’t still incredibly popular.
DOTA 2, the sequel to the genre’s founding father, still eclipses most of the competition. Over the past 12 months, it’s regularly nearing a million concurrent players, and sometimes exceeding that total, despite having been around for nearly a decade.
Like CS: GO, it’s esports presence has nurtured a passionate community of players that aren’t in any hurry to move onto a new IP. DOTA 2 is also a big noise in the east, particularly in China, which accounts for a substantial percentage of its player base.
7. PUBG – 913,075
The game that kicked off a frenzy that saw the entire multiplayer gaming landscape reshaped over the past few years, PUBG still commands a huge audience despite the battle royale genre becoming flooded with copycat titles.
Most notably, of course, it was copied by and then superseded by Epic Games’ Fortnite. PUBG’s premium model and its tardiness in arriving on consoles saw it fall behind rather quickly once Fortnite began gathering steam.
But while PUBG may no longer rule the battle royale roost, it still offers a tactical military-sim experience that isn’t matched by other games in the genre. This, and the fact that its mobile version is also extremely popular (numbers not included in above stat), should see PUBG’s community soldier on throughout 2021.
6. Counter-Strike: GO – 1,305,714
Counter-Strike: GO is the FPS that just won’t quit. April 2020 saw its highest-ever concurrent player numbers, topping 1.3 million. Not only is that a hugely impressive figure on its own, but the game been cranking out this sort of performance for eight years.
A strong esports presence and the brand-power of a franchise that’s been around since the late 1990s has kept CS: GO ahead of newer releases.
5. Apex Legends – 2 Million
Respawn’s Apex Legends stealth dropped out of nowhere and then proceeded to take the battle royale genre by storm. It proved the perfect recipe of compelling gameplay, AAA production quality, and a free-to-play business model that saw it succeed in temporarily dethroning Fortnite and PUBG as most-played and most-watched multiplayer games.
The numbers have definitely dipped since its opening month saw a record 2 million concurrent players, but despite the occasional bump along the way, its community has remained pretty sizeable. It’s safe to say that Apex has muscled its way into the genre and secured its place for the foreseeable future.
4. Minecraft – 1.4 Million+
Minecraft is a juggernaut that just keeps on steamrolling, but we’ll acknowledge that we’re slightly cheating with our listed stat here.
Technically, our data should place Minecraft below Apex Legends. The thing is, while we only have data from 2015, we know for certain that Minecraft has only increased its player base exponentially over the past four years. You only have to look at its monthly active users (MAU) for proof.
For comparison and to provide some context as to we’ve bumped Minecraft up without a more recent concurrent stat, DOTA 2 had an estimated MAU of 11.9 million at the start of 2019. Minecraft has ten times that number.
Our 1.4 million concurrent stat is taken from a Polygon article back in 2015 when Minecraft’s MAU was estimated at below 40 million. It wouldn’t be out of the realms of possibility that Minecraft now sees over three times that concurrent number on occasion.
3. Crossfire – 8 Million
It’s likely that up until only fairly recently the majority of our readers wouldn’t have heard of one of the world’s most-played video games. Crossfire, a Counter-Strike clone, is an absolute beast over in Korea, and it’s set to make its mark over in the west soon.
Korean developer Smilegate Entertainment has recently struck a deal with Microsoft that’ll see a new version of the game called Crossfire X come to Microsoft platforms exclusively in 2021.
Quite whether that sequel will see the same concurrent figures, though, we’re not sure. It really would depend on whether the next iteration of the game sees a worldwide launch or whether it’s something being prepared specifically for the western market.
It’s certainly got a lot to live up to if it’s going to match Smilegate’s claims of 8 million concurrent players. That’s a stat that we should note has been touted for a number of years, though, so it’s actually slightly unclear as to the game’s current community size.
2. League of Legends – 8 Million
Earlier in this list, we cited DOTA 2’s continued popularity as proof that the MOBA genre is far from dead, but League of Legends’ numbers completely blow those out of the water. According to Riot Games, almost each and every single day, League of Legends is played by around 8 million people.
That is totally bonkers, and probably should see it top this list based purely on consistency, but we’ve set the metric as peak concurrent so we’ll resist the temptation…
Once again, a strong esports scene has helped League of Legends to hold onto its community, which routinely turn up in the millions to watch competitive tournaments online. The League of Legends World Championships 2019 broke Twitch’s concurrent viewership records with 1.7 million watching FunPlus Phoenix crush G2 Esports.
1. Fortnite – 12.3 Million
Love or hate Fortnite, it surely has to go down as among the most important video games ever made. Epic Games’ battle royale game has totally recalibrated what it means to build and support a successful “live” service-style video game.
Fortnite is a constantly shifting entity, remolding itself with different features and gimmicks as new trends emerge. It’s essentially a new game every month thanks to its battle pass content, and it’s also managed to embed itself into pop-culture by collaborating with musicians and celebrity figureheads to stay relevant.
In fact, it was during the Astronomical Concert back in 2020 that Fortnite set a 12.3 million concurrent player peak, as players flocked to watch Travis Scott debut a new single.