So long as there have been computers, man has played games on them. The first computer game is widely considered to be Spacewar!, developed in 1962 at MIT, in which players would battle two spaceships trailing trippy shadows made unintentionally by the cathode-ray tube monitor’s display.
PC gaming has evolved by leaps and bounds since those early days. It counts some 1.83 billion users around the world and is placed as the second-most popular gaming format (after smartphones) in the U.S. Physical CD-ROM games have gone very much the way of the dodo, and many online platforms have taken over — but it’s Steam that’s the world’s favorite, boasting 132 million monthly active users.
It’s a platform where not only can gamers play and collect all their favorite titles but also take part in a global community, leaving reviews for games and upvoting other reviews they find helpful or funny. This gave us an idea: using the game libraries and reviews of millions of Steam users, what does the average PC gamer look like? And how does that profile vary by country? Read on to find out.
What We Did
We began our analysis by retrieving over 2.9 million reviews of the top 500 games on Steam by current players, then retrieved the country in which those 513k reviewers are based. Using the “location” of a review, we were able to calculate the average number of times a review was upvoted as “helpful” and the percentage of reviews that recommend a game in each country, giving us the most helpful/least helpful and harshest/nicest game reviewer countries. We also calculated how many hours of playtime the average Steam user in every country has logged and how many games they have in their collection, a figure we then used to calculate the average value of a Steam user’s collection based on current prices.
- The world’s typical PC gamer owns 215 games on Steam for a combined value of $2,776.59. They’ve also spent 4,307 hours playing those games.
- However, it’s Denmark’s Steam gamers that have spent the most time overall (6,581 hours) playing games…
- …and the average gamer in the Netherlands has spent the most money ($4,252) on their Steam collection, which is the largest in the world at 339 games on average.
- In comparison, the typical gamer in the U.S. has spent $3,672.77 on games and 5,152 hours playing them.
- China’s gamers are the harshest reviewers of games, while Peru’s are the nicest.
What’s in the Making of the Average Steam Gamer?
Every year, PC gaming counts more and more fans. Ask a PC gamer why they prefer it as a format over consoles, and they’ll likely give you a host of reasons, from better frame rates and controls to its capacity for mods. But how does the average PC gamer play, collect and review games? Using data retrieved from Steam — one of the world’s most popular gaming platforms — we’ve built a profile of the world’s typical PC gamer.
The average Steam user has a library containing 215 games — worth $2,776.59 in total — and has clocked up 4,307 hours of playtime. They recommend 86.28% of games to other users, but the reviews they leave aren’t too helpful, scoring 2.29 upvotes on average.
Denmark’s Gamers Spend the Most Time Playing On Steam
Focusing on a typical player within individual countries, we discovered that it’s Denmark’s gamers who have logged the most hours of playtime on Steam: 6,581 hours, a total equivalent to more than nine months of solid gaming. To say that gaming is a popular hobby in the European country is an understatement: according to Statistics Denmark, one in four citizens play games daily or nearly every day. All that practice must pay off, as Denmark boasts the highest-earning esports player of all time.
Switzerland comes next (6,311 hours), a country that boasts its own impressive roster of lucrative esports players. The rest of the top ten ranking is dominated by European countries — surprising, considering the continent actually spends less time gaming than the rest of the world — with Australia (down in Oceania) bucking the trend in ninth place (5,189 hours). Eight out of ten people play video games in Australia, with puzzle games being one of the most popular genres.
Gamers in the Netherlands Own More Steam Games Than Anywhere Else
When it comes to sizeable game collections, the average Steam user in the Netherlands puts us all to shame, boasting 339 titles in total. Like Denmark, gaming in the Netherlands is a popular hobby, with 29% of adults playing between one and five hours per week. Something you may not see for much longer on Steam games in the Netherlands are loot boxes — the Dutch government has revealed plans to ban the controversial feature.
Coming fourth is the United Kingdom (282 games), home to the largest video game sector in Europe. It’s also a country where the average person’s digital library is likely much larger than their stack of physical games — in 2022, 90% of all video games bought in the UK were in digital format.
Taiwan’s Gamers Have Seriously Valuable Steam Collections, Belarus Not So Much
We already know that the average gamer in the Netherlands owns the biggest collection of Steam titles, so it checks out that they have the most expensive collection as well, at a combined $4,252 — but where else in the world does the typical Steam gamer boast a valuable library?
Wealthy countries (not surprisingly) take the top spots, including Taiwan ($3,569), where one market report writes that gamers are characterized by a “high purchasing power and willingness to spend on games.”
The situation is different elsewhere. The least valuable collection on average can be found in Belarus, where a typical Steam library is worth $1,268 — still expensive in real-life terms but far less valuable than the likes of a typical collection in the U.S. ($3,673). The largest video game market nationally is mobile games, so perhaps that’s where local gamers spend their hard-earned money instead.
China’s Gamers Are the Harshest Critics on Steam, but Peru’s Are the Nicest
Before clicking a game into your online cart, checking out the reviews of gamers gone before is a good way to gauge whether you’ll like it or not — but some countries are home to particularly harsh reviewers. None more so than China, whose reviewers only recommend 81.62% of games — the smallest proportion of game recommendations of any country. China is also where you’ll find the highest proportion of people who check video game reviews on social media before buying.
Peru’s reviewers are much nicer, recommending 93.58% of games on Steam (more than any other country in the world). Could it be because of what the Cultural Atlas calls Peru’s “very warm, welcoming and hospitable” culture? Gamers in the Philippines are the next kindest, recommending 92.76% of games on the platform.
Slovakia’s Steam Users Write the Most Helpful Game Reviews
“Was this review helpful?” Steam asks. If a game review is useful and well-written, you can upvote it; if it’s a garbled string of nonsense, you can downvote it. This gave us an insight into where in the world you’ll find the most and least helpful reviewers on Steam, based on the average number of “helpful” upvotes a country’s reviewers have.
Slovakia takes the “most helpful” crown, commanding an average 5.36 upvotes per review.
Colombia is home to the world’s least helpful reviewers: the average review for a game left by someone in Colombia scores just 0.73 upvotes.
Peru (0.76 upvotes) comes next, surprising given how we previously found that they’re the world’s kindest reviewers. Perhaps nice doesn’t always mean helpful!
How We Did It
We analyzed Steam data to find out how different countries play, collect and review PC games.
We first retrieved over 2.9 million reviews from the top 500 games on Steam by current players, then retrieved the country in which the 513k reviewers are based.
With this information, we mapped each review with a country and calculated the average number of times a review was upvoted as “helpful” and the percentage of reviews that recommend a game in each country.
After that, for the 62k users who disclosed their game collection, we calculated the average number of games owned by users from each country and the average total playtime (across all games) per account.
Finally, we used current prices from Steamspy.com to calculate how much each user’s library is worth in current prices. We could then calculate the cost of the average Steam user’s collection in every country.
The data is correct as of August 2023.
- Clement, J. (2022). Distribution of Steam users worldwide as of April 2018, by country. statista.com
- Video Games Europe. (2022). Europe’s video games industry publishes annual key facts report: authoritative data and engagements. videogameseurope.eu
- Clement, J. (2023). Average monthly spending on digital video games according to gamers in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2022, by platform. statista.com
- VG Insights. (2022). Video Game Insights 2021 Market Report. vginsights.com