AMD isn't the only company with a milestone to celebrate today. More than 1 billion Steam accounts have been created, too, according to Steam ID Finder and reported by PC Gamer. Valve isn't exactly popping the champagne, however. It turns out that having more than a billion accounts doesn't actually mean very much.
Steam is a free service. That means people can make as many accounts as they like, with the only real downside being the inability to share games between accounts, meaning they'd have to re-purchase titles for each account. But that does little to dissuade the creation of additional accounts. Part of Steam's appeal is that it plays host to many games that are free to play, typically low-cost, or regularly discounted by their publishers.
One of the more popular reasons to create a new account is to bypass a ban on an existing one. People are willing to do that for games they have to re-purchase; they're even more likely to set up new accounts for their preferred free-to-play titles so they can get right back into the action. Hardware bans can more reliably prevent these players from accessing the games entirely, but they're handed out far less frequently.
There are other reasons to set up multiple accounts, sure, but even one is enough to make the number of accounts less meaningful. This is a problem that non-gaming companies must contend with as well, and most of them opt to measure active and concurrent users in a given timeframe. These numbers can more accurately determine how many people are using Steam--and how many of them remain engaged with the platform.
But that doesn't mean 1 billion accounts isn't noteworthy. Plenty of free platforms never reach that milestone, and it's a testament to Steam's appeal that people are continuing to make new accounts, despite increasing competition from pretty much every company that has anything to do with gaming. It's not quite the venerable contender that AMD is--50 years is a long time--but Steam getting its billionth account is cool nonetheless.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.