Whether you've been longing for the days of hectic deathmatch games on Crossfire or have never played through Valve's seminal first-person shooter, today's a very good day to play the original Half-Life. Earlier this week, Valve made the entire franchise free-to-play for a limited time, and since then the 1998 title has broken its peak number of players on Steam multiple times.
ResetEra user Arthands first noticed that Half-Life set a new peak (as measured by SteamDB) yesterday, with just north of 2,300 simultaneous players. That record was doubled a few hours later, and today Half-Life reached a new all-time peak of 6,022 players.
You'll find a similar trend in the charts for Half-Life 2, but the sequel's both nowhere near its all-time record and is currently pacing just a bit below its predecessor. Still, the influx of free players is enough to help both mainline Half-Life titles crack the top 100. Currently, more Steam users are playing the original Half-Life than Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Mortal Kombat 11, or Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
That's not too bad for a 21-year-old game. Half-Life's real concurrent player peak probably predates the existence of Steam, but at least we know that right now is probably the easiest time you'll ever have getting a quick round of deathmatch in since the mid-2000s.
Half-Life, along with its sequels and expansions, will remain free-to-play on Steam until Valve releases the VR-exclusive Half-Life: Alyx in March. In a recent Reddit AMA, Valve said it fully expects to make that release window, having already factored in the risk of a "Valve Time" delay before announcing the title.