Raise your hand if you have a ton of unplayed games in your Steam library. If you're anything like me, you're probably mired in a bog of sale and bundle acquisitions that you'd never be able to play in three or four lifetimes.
If that's your fate, you are not alone.
Ars Technica has quantified a number of traits of the Steam gaming ecosystem using a new tool, the aptly named Steam Gauge. Their analysis mashes up a broad range of data, ferreting out obvious things like the most-owned and most-played games to some really nifty stuff, like crossing "owned" versus "played" numbers to reveal the extent of unplayed "freebie" games. There's a chart detailing the games with the most hours put into them, which brings up a lot of strategy titles one might not have guessed were so popular. For those games that offer both single- and multi-player components, they compare the time spent in each mode. The icing on the cake? Median number of hours per user and game, just so you can compare your own shame to everyone else's.
Let's say that I don't fare all that well, especially when it comes to the sheer number of hours sunk into Civilization V while a host of other games in my library remain virtually untouched.
Ars' collected data also reveals approximate sales figures for many titles. Somewhat against what I'd expect, even in indie-friendly and greenlit Steam land, the lion's share of the market goes to the big hitters.
This analysis draws from publicly-available data, but not just from Steam's stats page. Oh, no. The authors took it upon themselves to scrape data programmatically from a sample portion of the Steam Community's user profiles. Those profiles are public by default and include data about the games played and hours spent in them. In true geek fashion, they went at it with an Amazon EC2 instance and some scripting and database work.
Some spoilers: 37% of owned games are never played, lending credence to the idea that we buy far more bundles than we need. DotA 2's player base really is as massive as you've been led to believe, and Team Fortress 2 is still huge after seven years and the transition to a free-to-play model. I won't spoil the rest, but the whole article is worth reading.