Does Steam track hours in offline mode?

There are several reasons one might wish to understand their game’s time tracking. While some want to circumvent, prevent, or hide it, others want to inflate or merely maintain it. Regardless of your side, Steam’s offline mode is likely uncharted ground— not many users know more than what’s implied by its name.

Yes. Steam tracks your offline play-time. However, Steam does not display your offline play-time.

Steam’s offline mode is generally odd. Time tracking in Steam’s offline mode only strays further from normality. Well, at least from the user perspective. Fortunately, I’ll explain this to you in as much detail as possible.

We’ve also created a video that explains how Steam tracks your offline play-time in more detail, which you can watch here:

You can use the provided links if you’re here for something specific. Click a link to access relevant content quickly:

  1. Does Steam track hours in offline mode
  2. But someone else said…
  3. How do you use Steam’s offline mode
  4. Blog post debrief

Does Steam track hours in offline mode

Let’s say, before switching to offline mode, you played 5D Chess with Multiversal Time Travel (yes, it’s a real game) for one hour. You may continue to play this game for a couple of minutes or several hours; however, you won’t notice a logged change in your recorded play-time. This observation would prompt most users to infer Steam cannot track play-time in offline mode— even though Steam is still tracking your play-time in offline mode.

The answer

Yes: Steam tracks your offline play-time. This tracking likely occurs to aid Valve in better determining when a refund is appropriate. Otherwise, you could attain a refund for a game you played all day by playing in offline mode and claiming you haven’t played at all. That’s not good for business.

But someone else said…

You might have heard someone claim that Steam does not track your offline play-time; they’re making a reasonable observation, albeit incorrect. However, one can hardly blame them— Steam doesn’t make an effort to be clear on what’s happening behind the scenes. Or, more accurately, they aren’t highlighting what’s hidden in plain sight.

What is happening

Steam tracks your play-time in offline mode to validate play-time claims regarding refunds. However, this logged time is seemingly not appended to your existing recorded play-time.

How do you use Steam’s offline mode

Now you know a little more about Steam’s offline mode, why not give it a try? Of course, you’ll need an internet connection initially; however, it won’t matter once you’ve enabled offline mode. Steam’s offline mode allows you to play games offline, provided you’ve played them online at least once.

Opening a game for three seconds will suffice if you don’t have much time.

Step 1 — Open your Steam desktop app

If you have a Steam shortcut, double-click it to open Steam. Otherwise, tap the “Windows” key and search for “Steam.” Then, hit the “Enter” key.

Step 2 — Find offline mode in the Steam options menu

Select Steam from the left side of the toolbar at the top of the screen; you will create the dropdown we need. Via the said dropdown, select “Go Offline…” Steam will ask you to confirm this decision.

Step 3 — Play a game offline

With Steam mode active, head to your game library and boot up a game. I recommend choosing a game that does not require an active internet connection. In the example below, I play Brawlhalla— because the scythe mains can’t hurt me if I play offline.

Blog post debrief

To recap, Steam tracks your offline play-time despite failing to display it. You can play Steam games offline, but you must first enable offline mode, which requires an active internet connection. When using offline mode, you can only open games you have opened at least once while in online mode.

This post’s recommended game is Elden Ring: an (optionally) single-player “souls-like” with fresh graphics and a memorable challenge.

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