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Baldur's Gate 3 wins again: It was the most-played game on Steam Deck over the past 12 months

 Baldur's Gate 3 being played on a Steam Deck.
Baldur's Gate 3 being played on a Steam Deck.

Valve has revealed the list of the top 100 most-played games on Steam Deck between March 2023 and March 2024 and it's yet another trophy for Baldur's Gate 3, which claimed the top spot despite only being available for half that time.

The list is sorted by highest daily active player count, and unsurprisingly it's pretty much a rundown of the most popular games on PC over the past year or so: Baldur's Gate 3 sits at the top, followed by Vampire Survivors, Dave the Diver, Hogwarts Legacy, and Elden Ring.

The Steam Deck's most played games are:

  1. Baldur's Gate 3

  2. Vampire Survivors

  3. Dave the Diver

  4. Hogwarts Legacy

  5. Elden Ring

  6. Palworld

  7. Cyberpunk 2077

  8. Grand Theft Auto 5

  9. Stardew Valley

  10. Red Dead Redemption 2

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There are a few interesting takeaways from the list. The most obvious is that singleplayer games dominate: Palworld bucks the trend in the sixth spot, but otherwise the top 20 is—with partial exceptions for GTA5, RDR2, and Stardew Valley, which all have popular multiplayer modes—singleplayer throughout. All due respect to Pocketpair boss Takuro Mizobe, but I think we can fairly say that multiplayer support isn't essential to ensuring a game's success at all.

Second thing, and this is a little more surprising to me, although I am not at all a mobile gamer: People don't seem to mind playing big games on a small screen. Games like Vampire Survivors, Binding of Isaac, Balatro, and Terraria are natural fits for handheld devices, because they can be played in small bites and glorious 4K graphics don't really matter.

But Elden Ring? Cyberpunk 2077? Skyrim, Witcher 3, Monster Hunter: World, and Fallout 4? Those are big, chunky games, the kind of things you sit down in front of, start playing, and then whoops, it's 2 am. Their overall popularity notwithstanding, I wouldn't think they'd be quite so in-demand on a system that's designed first and foremost for portability, but clearly I was off-base on that one.

In a similar vein, it also speaks very highly of the Steam Deck that it can handle these things at all. There are a lot of demanding games here and some of them, including Palworld, GTA5, and RDR2, aren't even Steam Deck Verified. Palworld, for instance, requires some real effort to play on the Deck:

Palworld's Steam Deck status warning: Playable but not verified
Palworld's Steam Deck status warning: Playable but not verified

Palworld isn't Steam Deck Verified but an awful lot of people are playing it on Steam Deck anyway. (Image credit: Steam)

It's a good thing the Steam Deck is so capable: Valve said in September 2023 that Steam Deck 2, whatever it ends up being, is at least two years away. Given how Valve time works, that means we'll be lucky to see a new Steam handheld device before 2030.

Valve published a similar list of the most-played games on Steam Deck in December 2023 as part of its year-end roundup, and many of the same games remain in the top 10, although there are a few notable changes: Armored Core 6, Starfield, and Resident Evil 4, which were in the top "Platinum" category at the end of 2023, have all fallen out of the top 10 in the current ranking, while Half-Life fell out of the top 100 completely. (Although it's kind of weird that it was there in the first place, I think.)

If you've got a Steam Deck and you're looking for new games to play, the vast majority of the games in this list are currently marked down as part of the 2024 Steam Spring Sale, which is live now and runs until March 21.