Feb 7, 2022 - Technology

Dying Light 2's strong start highlights gaming's soaring player counts

Dying Light 2

Dying Light 2. Screenshot: Techland

Zombies-and-parkour game Dying Light 2 had a huge launch last week, and one big number shows how big it was: 274,983.

Why it matters: That was the new game’s peak concurrent player count on the PC gaming service Steam over the weekend — and the kind of gargantuan audience figures that attest to a gaming market that isn’t slowing down.

Other recent eye-poppers include:

  • Nintendo’s announcement that Pokémon Legends: Arceus sold 6.5 million copies in its first week.
  • Square Enix’s news that Bravely Default Brilliant Lights, a mobile spinoff to a largely Nintendo-based franchise, has attracted 4 million users in less than two weeks.
  • Microsoft's recent boast that December’s Halo Infinite and October’s Forza Horizon 5 have reached 20 million and 18 million players, respectively.

Between the lines: Each number represents a story, and all represent efforts to maximize a game’s reach.

  • Some franchises are shifting toward mobile where bigger audiences await.
  • Microsoft is pursuing a strategy of maximizing a game’s availability by putting its games into its popular Game Pass subscription service as well as offering them via console, PC and even, thanks to streaming, mobile. It also launched the multiplayer mode of Halo Infinite for free.
  • Dying Light 2’s number pops because it’s a sign of more traditional success: a game sold at full price, somehow hitting a concurrent player count on Steam that is nine times higher than its successful predecessor (and the 23rd best peak for any game on Steam ever).

Yes, but: Big numbers don’t always hold up.

  • Amazon’s long struggle to make a hit video game appeared over when its New World game launched last September and reached over 900,000 concurrent players on Steam, but in the last 30 days, its concurrent player count has peaked at just over 100,000.
  • Despite a hot start, Halo Infinite on Steam has already fallen to under a 10th of its peak, dropping out of Steam’s top 100 games played.
  • Games often fall when players tire of the game, find it lacking in replayability or wander to other titles due to the lack of additional content.

What’s next: Dying Light 2’s creators, clearly enamored with numbers — even silly ones like the since-walked-back 500 hours of playtime — have promised five years of continued support for the game.

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