Id be remiss to start this article to say that I didnt first look at Steam250 due to a Dave Oshry tweet, so, heres that: I first looked at Steam250 due to a Dave Oshry tweet, so go buy DUSK if you like retro shooters. But moving on: Steam250 is a fascinating website that attempts to rank the best games on Steam based on their user reviews, which is an interesting statistical puzzle. It uses an algorithm that takes into account both the percentage of positive reviews a game receives, as well as the number of total reviews, to try to figure out which games people are playing and enjoying the most. Its not perfect, but only because objective truth is a mirage. You can read more about the methodology here, and the whole thing is open source.
So, before getting too much further into it, lets take a look at the top ten games:
- Portal 2
- The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
- Stardew Valley
- Euro Truck Simulator 2
- Left 4 Dead 2
- The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Its an interesting list! One that both feels like it has merit and would never have been generated with anything but an algorithm of this nature.
The top is unsurprising: Portal 2 is an excellent game thats deeply popular with the extremely online world of Valve fans. The Witcher 3 shares a similar meeting of quality and popularity with internet folks. After that, things get interesting. Im not surprised to see Stardew Valley on there, but some people might because there are so many games with a higher profile. Same with Euro Truck Simulator 2: a game with a committed, and apparently pretty broad, fanbase, but one that a huge portion of the gaming world probably knows next to nothing about.
While I wasnt entirely surprised to see Euro Truck Simulator on here, Factorio serves a similar function here for me. Never heard of it! And yet elsewhere, Ive seen people respond to its high ranking with basically: that makes sense. There is something deeply amusing about seeing the top 10 here bookended with Portal games, too, though I will always argue that the first one is better.
What you get from browsing this and the rest of the high ranking games on the website is a bunch of titles that have managed to maintain large, committed fanbases that dont appear to have turned on the game at any point. A game has to be big enough to achieve the number of reviews required to get high standing, but so big as to attract controversy. The top scorers, like Portal 2 and The Witcher 3, are the ones that have managed to get very big while angering the smallest number of people.
An interesting project, and one Im going to keep following.