Does the number of players matter? Trends in the player population don’t always show the big picture

Even the slightest drop in player numbers can set alarm bells ringing for some MMORPG players. YouTubers quickly look at Steamcharts and Steam.db data and talk about how their favorite game is dying. It’s a trend that’s been around for years and doesn’t seem to be going away. While some player count declines are caused by poor game handling, this is not always the case.

Why we need to stop calling every game “dead”.

The trend of calling games “dead” is not limited to the MMORPG genre. Gamers have claimed Fortnite is dying for years, but it’s one of the most popular games out there. There are videos claiming “Apex Legends is dying”. At the same time, apex continues to break his Maximum number of simultaneous players time and time again, while there has also been an increase in average players per month.

But there are real cases of player bases experiencing massive drops, which is a cause for concern. New worlda game that reached its climax Over 913,000 players is now under 20,000 players at the time of writing. It’s normal for games to wane in novelty and the playerbase takes a massive hit a few months after launch.

Sometimes there is a drop in player base due to lack of content. Most games go through content droughts, whether intentional or not. Even when developers design content to be played for several weeks or months, we gamers always find a way to optimize our game time and find the quickest ways to delete content. Players just burn through all existing content and wait for the next update. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either and it is up to you as a player to decide how best to invest your time.

If we look at any game out there, the major patch releases, expansion releases, and launch windows usually have the highest player count. And it’s perfectly normal for the numbers to plummet as the game ages or “content goes dry”. Just because player counts are looking worse for very natural reasons doesn’t mean the game should be declared dead and possibly discouraging new players.

There are cases when games really die due to lack of vision of the developers. Content updates are delayed or for other reasons. But not every game drops for the same reasons, and it’s important to look beyond the simple numbers on the Steam charts.

Comparing player counts is a really bad idea

While I agree that a solid player count means a game is healthy, comparing player counts between two games can rarely lead to any meaningful conclusions. Take the entire Final Fantasy XIV vs. World of Warcraft debate for example. FFXIV is often seen as one of World of Warcraft’s biggest contenders, but it falls far short of Blizzard’s MMO. Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida said in an official livestream as of July 2021, it’s impossible for Square Enix to compete with WoW’s peak of 12 million subscriptions. He said: “The hard work we put into Final Fantasy 14 has paid off. But this whole conversation about beating WoW is the wrong conversation and it’s frankly irritating.”

Final Fantasy XIV currently around 28,000 players on average and the all-time high on Steam is around 95,000 players. While the number may pale in comparison to something like Lost Ark, it doesn’t mean the game is dead. In fact, it’s one of the most popular MMORPGs out there. And the same goes for countless other titles that don’t make the most-played games list on Steam or any other platform. It should also be noted that many games such as Final Fantasy XIV and Runescape are available outside of Steam, meaning players don’t always get the full picture when comparing player counts.

It’s completely natural to want to get into MMORPGs that have a healthy player base. For some MMORPGs with dozens of servers, a lower player count means you may not find enough players to engage in activity on your preferred server. It’s important to have enough players to play with. More players means you have more guilds to choose from, and you can expect fair PVP matchmaking too.

Fun should decide where you spend your time, not numbers

While you need a sizeable player base to enjoy an MMO, the fun factor should make you want to try games. You should play games that really engage you and look fun. Even though it has a “lean” 5,000 concurrent players, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a game. Runescape is over on Steam 3,000 active concurrent players while Old School Runescape has fewer than 1,000 players. Does that mean you shouldn’t be playing Runescape 2022? Absolutely not. If it’s a game that appeals to you and you think you’ll enjoy it, then no one should stop you from trying it.


While the core game is fun and has some interesting mechanics, Amazon Games hasn’t been able to keep the game’s economics in check. Amazon Games had to stop the economy of the game on several occasions to keep things in check. You need to look at each game through the lens of its dedicated player base and consider whether you should invest your time in it. Both New World and Final Fantasy XIV have similar player counts these days, but you’ll find drastically different opinions in each community.

Find games that you think will respect your time and give you a truly rewarding experience. A number on Steamcharts shouldn’t dictate whether or not you should play a game. There are many MMORPGs out there that you can enjoy, even if their player counts may not be as impressive as you would like. Does the number of players matter? Trends in the player population don’t always show the big picture

Fry Electronics Team

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