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Games That Lost Almost Their Entire Playerbase Within Months

You only get one first impression—a fact not lost on the video game industry, where there's always something else for gamers to play. These days, new games risk losing their player-bases almost as soon as they get them. Sometimes, a botched launch is to blame. Other times, what should be a top-tier, finished product hits shelves as little more than a $59.99 beta test. Occasionally, the stars simply don't align, and a competitor just makes a game that is better than yours. And then, there's the simple fact that gamers can just get bored and move on. Whatever the reason, staying power is hard to come by—as these games found out the hard way.


Tom Clancy's The Division

Ubisoft's much anticipated online-only open-world third-person shooter The Division launched to critical acclaim in March 2016. By June—only three months later—the game had lost 93 percent of its player-base. 


According to player-base-tracking website GitHyp, The Division fell from a peak 2.1 million players per day to a mere 143,000, in only a matter of months. Taught by the developer as Ubisoft's fastest selling game of all time, the much-hyped online shooter was by no means a bad game. However, The Division had its fair share of issues, ultimately crippling Ubisoft's hope that the title would become their flagship franchise. Endgame problems—on top of matchmaking issues and stat bugs—put-off those who wanted to stick around, with cheating and hacking plaguing the Dark Zone, particularly within the PC community. Additional content and DLC did little to draw players back, proving just how easy it is to lose your player-base. 


These days, The Division is all but dead, with less than three percent of the game's launch-window peak still playing. It's tough to imagine the French developer feeling too bad about the drop-off in players, however—seeing as they raked in $330 million in five days. That's some serious franc.

For Honor

Ubisoft is no stranger to launching much-anticipated games, which their player-base gives up on almost immediately. Tom Clancy's The Division may have felt the pain, but that was little more than a bee sting compared to For Honor's debacle of a launch.


Hitting shelves in February 2017, For Honor promised exciting and unique player-versus-player combat, with gamers able to fight as either knights, samurai, or vikings in a medieval setting. Sounds awesome, right? Like many games from the top-tier French developer, For Honor looked—and in many ways, was—awesome. Unfortunately, severe technical issues rewarded Ubisoft with a 95 percent reduction in their new IP's player-base, in only three months—worse than the previous year's highly-anticipated new IP, The Division. In a game that's all about thinking-ahead and executing quick reactions, Ubisoft's decision to run For Honor over a peer-to-peer connection completely ruined the experience—with frequent rage-quitting, dropped matches, lag switching, and various other connectivity issues spoiling an otherwise great game. Players who bought For Honor at launch were seriously disappointed, and even organized a boycott of the game—forcing the developers to communicate more directly with those who felt spurned.


Nobody wants to see a game fail, but—unfortunately—For Honor has been chalked up as yet another instance in which Ubisoft dropped the ball.

No Man's Sky

When it comes to epic fails, Hello Games' No Man's Sky wrote the book.

The game touted some 18 quintillion planets, yet managed to provide so little in terms of actual content and gameplay that virtually everyone abandoned the game as soon as they started. According to GitHyp, No Man's Sky peaked on launch day, grabbing upwards of 212,000 concurrent players on Steam. Less than a week later, 78 percent of those who gave Hello Games' space exploration title a shot simply gave up—realizing that it's little more than an unrewarding, repetitive bore-fest. Not even two full months later, No Man's Sky was seeing less than 1,000 players per hour—resulting in a 94 percent drop in only 42 days. Not good, Sean Murray. Not good.


No Man's Sky was briefly revitalized after one short burst of life in November 2016, when Hello Games released the game's first major content expansion for free. However, it wasn't nearly enough, and gamers who came back gave up on the the space-exploration game for a second time—all but sealing No Man's Sky's fate as one of the biggest disappointments in the history of gaming.

Street Fighter V

Launching in February 2016, Street Fighter V was supposed to be a major console exclusive for Sony's PlayStation 4. Sadly, the vast majority of players who picked up the famous fighting game tapped out—and tapped out quickly.


The sixth numbered game in the legendary fighting series, Street Fighter V was supposed to be more accessible than its predecessors—allowing casual gamers a chance to learn the ropes and climb the ladder to glory. Sadly, most people who tested the waters didn't like the temperature. Plaguing the launch of Capcom's title was the stark lack of content, with some calling early-adopters of Street Fighter V little more than beta testers. Even worse, matchmaking and connectivity issues really killed the buzz of anyone looking to get some fighting experience under their belt, and rage-quitting—which went largely unpunished in the early days—was both rampant and unacceptable. Rage quitting was so bad, in fact, that many gamers took matters into their own hands, creating threads with video evidence of users who ducked out of losing matches at the last minute.


Quitters ultimately got what was coming to them, but the early damage was done. The poor experience was enough to put over 75 percent of players off, after a mere dozen or so matches. Many people who set their DualShock 4s down never returned, and Street Fighter V is currently relegated well outside of the mainstream.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Admittedly, most people put down single-player-only games after they've beaten the main story—with replays reserved primarily for achievement hunters and hardcore fans. Nevertheless, Capcom's Resident Evil 7: Biohazard saw the majority of its players permanently shelve the survival-horror title, in quick succession.


According to GitHyp, Resident Evil 7 saw 90 percent of its playerbase disappear after only one month on the market. At the game's peak, it averaged roughly 15,000 players per hour on Steam. One month later, that number had dwindled to 1,500 per hour. An unexciting DLC deal didn't do much to keep players on board—with the season pass costing $29.99—and the number of players actually dropped further following the game's free "Banned Footage" content update.

Rapidly declining player-base aside, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was a pretty big success for the stagnating franchise, with launch numbers doubling that of Resident Evil 6, and with the game being received well by both critics and fans alike. Still, at its best, Resident Evil 7 topped out at #19 on Steam's charts, and shareholders apparently weren't impressed—none of which makes a compelling case for pumping development funds into Resident Evil 8.



Evolve launched in February 2015, as one of the PlayStation 4/Xbox One generation's first, overly-hyped "next-gen" games—featuring 4 vs 1 competitive gameplay, with that loner getting to assume the role of a massive monster. It didn't take long for players to realize, however, that the game really wasn't all it was cracked up to be.


It only took one month for 2K Games' multiplayer-centric first-person shooter to feel the pressure of a rapidly-declining player-base. Not only did the game receive mixed reviews, but its controversial DLC package—totaling $136 at launch—certainly didn't leave a good taste in any gamers' mouths. The game saw its player-base dwindle on almost a daily basis, steadily decreasing until Turtle Rock Studios had no choice but to swallow their pride and make the game free-to-play—a last resort for a game that released at full-retail. Making the game cost nothing to jump in effectively injected some life into the all-but-dead title, creating a 36,000 percent increase in players-per-hour. That high didn't last long, however, and Evolve crashed hard after the initial boost wore off—ultimately resulting in the developers ending support for the somewhat disappointing game.


These days, anyone looking to give this game a shot may find themselves waiting in a match-making lobby for a long time.


2K Games' MOBA-inspired first-person-shooter Battleborn was doomed to fail from the get go—and fail it did, losing the vast majority of the players did manage to get almost immediately.

Gearbox Software, the studio behind the popular Borderlands series, poured more than two years worth of resources into the creation of Battleborn, only to have their first-person MOBA completely overshadowed by Blizzard's outstanding game-in-the-same-vein Overwatch. Battleborn had such a rough launch, in fact, that it went on sale only three weeks after hitting shelves—and has been featured upwards of 80 percent off on various online sales since. The game only saw an abysmal 12,101 concurrent players on release day, and absolutely plummeted in the days and weeks that followed. In a desperate attempt to keep the game alive, the developers have made the game, for all intents and purposes, free-to-play—allowing free access to the game's online multiplayer, only with a limited selection of characters. Meanwhile, Overwatch has gone on to win multiple game of the year awards, and has millions of players—with no signs of slowing down.


Sometimes, the stars just don't align. Other times, a competitor simply makes the same game as you—and it turns out way better.

Pokémon GO

Niantic's mobile app Pokémon GO took America—and the world—by storm when it launched in July 2016. By September, however, the game was largely abandoned by all but only the most dedicated of smartphone Pokémon trainers.


According to comScore reports, Pokémon GO peaked on July 13th, 2016, with 28.5 million users experiencing the monster-catching augmented reality game in the United States, alone. Nearly nine million of those users quit playing by the end of the first month. By the following month, almost two-thirds of the app's peak users decided they'd had enough of the craze. Nevertheless, Niantic had a major hit on their hands, cashing in big on smartphone-toting millennials' nostalgic need to "catch 'em all," while proving that the Pokémon brand is as important as ever.


Launching a handful of months after the Xbox One, Respawn's first iteration in the Titanfall series was slated to be that generation's first true "next-gen" title—fueling the console wars and causing legitimate jealousy amongst PlayStation 4 early-adopters. Sadly, the game was hamstrung by content, and saw its player-base dropped off quickly.


Granted, most online, competitive first-person shooters experience a sharp drop off in active users a few months after launch—with the Call of Duty and Battlefield series being the only titles immune to this phenomenon. However, Titanfall wasn't just "an online shooter." It was, for all intents and purposes, an online-only first-person shooter—notably lacking a single-player campaign, or any content for users not looking to play the same match-types against trash-talking teenagers day in and day out. Furthermore, being an Xbox One exclusive severely limited the player base to begin with, and many of the console's gamers moved on quickly to other titles.

Lead Engineer John Shiring defended Titanfall against accusations of playerbase issues in an interview with PlayStationLifeStyle, telling Alex Co, "Yeah, in Titanfall 1, we saw a population dropping... This is a hot topic for me, so I apologize, but from talking to a lot of other people, the reality is that the rate of people dropping off, our curve is identical to every other game's curve. Really, it's just how many people you have on launch day, that decides where your curve's going to be, but the shape's still going to be the same."


Tell that to Overwatch.

Watch Dogs

When Ubisoft's highly anticipated Watch Dogs hit shelves on May 27, 2014 after years of hype, the game sold four million units in its first week on the market. Those staggering sales not only made it Ubisoft's fastest-selling game ever (until The Division arrived in 2016), but the most successful launch of a new IP across the entire video game industry.


The hype didn't last long. According to player-tracking website Steam Charts, Watch Dogs peaked at 47,820 concurrent players in May 2014. Only two months later, that number had dropped to 3,606. That's a staggering drop, especially for an open-world game with an online component not entirely dissimilar to Grand Theft Auto V. So what gives?

Though Watch Dogs was well-received by critics, many players found it lacking—a solid game with a solid story, but nothing gamers would call particularly revolutionary or exciting. Perhaps the biggest black mark was the fact that it looked nothing like the early E3 trailers, instead proving to be yet another downgraded Ubisoft title—something all developers are having a tougher time getting away with these days.


Despite the drop, Watch Dogs was incredibly successful for Ubisoft. Watch Dogs 2, however... not so much.

Fallout 4

Bolstered by a shrewd and uncommonly quick turnaround from announcement to release, Fallout 4 became Bethesda's most successful game at launch. The post-apocalyptic title even beat out the publisher's biggest hit, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In terms of staying power, however, Fallout 4 didn't last long in the gaming industry's open world.


Fallout 4 was reviewed as well as everyone expected, but unlike Skyrim, it left many players feeling bored and unimpressed; according to Steam Charts, the game peaked at 471,955 concurrent players in November 2015. By February of the following year, that number fell by an astonishing 410,216, all the way down to 61,739. Though the latter total is still nothing to scoff at, it's certainly a disappointing drop. In almost every way, the game proved to be more of an "if it's not broken, don't fix it" title as opposed to something truly new and exciting.

What really killed Bethesda's title and kept it well out of Game of the Year contention, however, was CD Projekt Red's near-perfect The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Vacuuming up awards left and right, The Witcher 3 changed the way most people viewed what an open-world role-playing game could be. With its massive, beautifully rendered open world, meaningful and engaging side quests, and carefully crafted storylines, The Witcher 3 made Fallout 4 seem like a little more than a glorified last-generation title.


Star Wars Battlefront

When the highly anticipated Star Wars Battlefront hit stores in November 2015, it sold exceedingly well. Unfortunately, players dropped the game faster than a Snowspeeder tow cables an AT-AT.

Stars Wars Battlefront received strictly decent reviews, but even hardcore fans of the franchise were cool on the finished product. The game featured nothing in the way of a campaign, aside from some offline matches disguised as single-player content. Even worse, the sheer lack of multiplayer modes and content in general made it hard for anyone to stick with it longer than a few weeks.


Steep player base drop-offs are rarely experienced by EA DICE first-person shooters. In fact, only six months after Star Wars Battlefront launched, more people were still playing 2013's Battlefield 4. According to BFcentral.net, which tracks data across EA multiplayer servers, Battlefield 4 had 50% more active players than Star Wars Battlefront, which itself was undoubtedly bolstered by the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Sure, Star Wars Battlefront was visually stunning, with unbelievably authentic sound effects and music, but one can only take so much of the same thing. There simply wasn't enough to do, and no publisher can expect gamers to stick around without truly compelling content.


Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was an ill-fated high-fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game originally created by Sigil Games Online and co-published by Sony Online Entertainment. The game arrived on January 30, 2007—or January 26, for those poor souls who pre-ordered—and initially sold very well. Unfortunately, the game was released six months too early, and those who picked it up the game at launch gave up almost as soon as they got started.


Lead designer Brad McQuaid candidly explained why Vanguard: Saga of Heroes lost its playerbase in an interview with IGN., admitting that the game, client, and server weren't optimized, and saying that as a result, "the vast majority of people who played it early on left by the time their characters hit level two or three."

As McQuaid went on to point out, every MMO designer would understand what those stats meant—that people "couldn't even play" the game. "Some people stuck with it. They saw the potential. But the majority couldn't play it at a quality level where it was actually fun," he added. "Even at the lowest settings, people had a hard time. Their frame rate was horrible. The latency was bad. It was just a pain in the butt to play."


Sony tried to revitalize the game, but Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was shut down forever on July 31, 2014.

Allods Online

Allods Online is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game developed for Windows. Critics and gamers alike were stoked for the game's official release, with Engadget praising the World of Warcraft clone's beautiful graphics, and leaving readers with a very positive impression. However, when the game arrived in North America in May 2011, one poor decision by the publishers put off almost anyone who gave the game a shot.


Allods Online launched with an absolutely atrocious Item Shop, which immediately led to the game's forums blowing up with accusations that the title was pay-to-win—the worst possible outcome for a free-to-play game. Instead of merely selling cosmetic items or mild items of convenience, Allods Online sold players, for all intents and purposes, respawns. Basically, if you died in the game, you were smacked across the face with a "Fear of Death" debuff, which reduced your offensive stats by a crippling 25%...unless, of course, you dropped some hard-earned, real-life cash. Naturally, this didn't go over well, and most people ended their adventure in the Astral the first time they died.

Eventually, Allods Online removed this dreadful cash grab, but the damage was already done. To make matters even worse, the game continued to sell other pay-to-win items, and even went so far as to launch a premium, pay-to-play server for people who wanted to experience the game "how it was meant to be played." Thanks, but no thanks.


Total War: Rome II

The Creative Assembly's eighth standalone game in the long-running series, Total War: Rome II was a huge commercial success. The game proved to be a top seller for SEGA, and sold more copies than any other game in the series' history. However, many early adopters bailed almost as soon as they started playing.


Total War: Rome II lost the vast majority of its player base in only one month. According to Steam Charts, the game peaked at 118,240 concurrent players in August 2013. The next month, that number had dropped to 37,686. So what happened?

Two words: artificial intelligence. Those eager to expand their empire found that the game's artificial intelligence exhibited very little interest in, well, expanding. Those eager to make use of the game's siege equipment found their units entirely disinterested in building it, nor would they make use of any manually placed in front of them. Worse yet, units would often charge, then immediately retreat, or simply stop in place—probably not how Romans really fought. Instead of a war simulation, players were treated to a nonsensical, buggy mess.


All in all, Total War: Rome II proved to be not only unpolished but, for all intents and purposes, unfinished. And though the game was still received favorably by most critics, user reviews were far less generous—resulting in a rapidly diminishing playerbase.

Dead Star

Developed and published by Armature Studio, the dual-stick, space-themed, multiplayer online battle arena Dead Star was indeed dead in only a matter of months.

Dead Star arrived for the PC and PlayStation 4 on April 5, 2016. Loads of people had the opportunity to join the fight, as the game was included as one of the two free monthly titles for PlayStation Plus subscribers—meaning some 20 million users had, at the very least, access to the game. And though it's impossible to say exactly how many users actually played the game, it's safe to assume a decent portion of PlayStation Plus subscribers at least gave it a whirl. Unfortunately, the game shut down its servers in November of the same year, meaning almost everybody stopped whirling.


Though Dead Star only survived for seven months, it's hard to imagine people were playing it for more than a few. Which is a shame, because the game really wasn't that bad—it just wasn't that good, either. Lacking any real hooks or incentive for players to keep coming back for more, Dead Star found itself quickly abandoned by almost everyone who picked it up.