Is New World’s Player Count Sustainable?

New World is off to a hotter start than most people anticipated, but is it realistic to expect the game to maintain these record player count numbers?

New World
Photo: Amazon Game Studios

Amazon’s New World is the company’s best chance yet at a hit game, and if New World‘s day one player count numbers are any indication of the MMO’s long-term outlook, then they may very well indeed have a somewhat surprising success on their hands.

People started sharing New World‘s initial player count figures earlier this morning when the game officially launched in select regions, and the results were shocking. As of 10 A.M. EST this morning, the game already had nearly 525,000 concurrent players via Steam. While those numbers are always a little tricky to depend on so far as absolute accuracy goes, that ballpark figure alone already suggests that New World is by far one of the most successful new games of the year and one of the most successful we’ve seen on Steam in quite some time.

What’s even more impressive is the fact that New World‘s concurrent player count has skyrocketed since then as more and more players across the world gain access to it. As of the time that I’m writing this very sentence, New World has over 658,000 concurrent players on Steam. However, that number has only been climbing over the last couple of hours and could indeed reach the 1,000,000 mark before the day is done.

New World Steam player count

Whatever happens next, it must be said that these numbers are incredible. We strongly suspected New World was going to become one of the year’s hottest games pretty much out of the gate, but all but the most optimistic estimates probably wouldn’t have dared guess that it was going to be quite this popular this fast.

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At the risk of belittling these early figures, though, it’s only natural to start wondering whether or not New World can possibly maintain this level of success.

The easiest answer to that question is “probably not.” It remains to be seen where New World goes from here, but if the entire history of video game launches is anything to go off of, then it’s highly doubtful that all of New World‘s day one players are going to be there in a week, a month, or a year. Not all of those users need to be there at that time for this game to be a hit, but it’s worth keeping expectations in check.

What’s more impressive than New World‘s concurrent player count, though, are the circumstances of the game’s launch and what they may tell us about its future success.

New World is not a free-to-play game, nor is it a sequel to already popular property. Granted, it helps that you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription fee just to play New World (and that the game has benefited from Amazon’s marketing power and a lot of talk in the streaming community), but we’re still talking about a game that managed to generate this much early buzz and this much early tangible success despite lacking those qualities that typically elevate a title’s initial popularity. For that matter, New World is not even available on consoles or mobile devices and there are currently no plans to port the game to those platforms at this time (though you can imagine what the game’s initial player count would look like if it were available on more devices).

With relatively few exceptions, the nearly one million people who are playing New World concurrently have already bought the game at its retail prices. Not only does that mean that New World obviously sold quite a few copies prior to launch, but it means that these current player numbers aren’t being inflated by people who are simply enjoying a free trial of the game but will likely walk away from it shortly and perhaps forever. Most of New World‘s players have not only bought the game but have bought into the idea of the game.

That could prove to be the biggest indicator of the game’s future success. New World has reached this point largely through the popularity of its open and closed betas as well as quite a bit of word of mouth. That tends to suggest that many of those who have already purchased the game and are trying to play it early on a Tuesday already knew what they were getting into and were ready to go. Again, that tends to suggest that many of New World‘s early players are committed to experiencing the game as it is now and will likely stick with it through these early stages.

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What happens next remains to be seen. A lack of updates and bad updates can ruin a game just as sure as the right updates can rescue it, and the fact is that we don’t know what New World‘s future looks like and how the community will respond to wherever the game goes next.

Yet, to see New World get off to this hot of a start despite being a premium title, despite launching at a seemingly awkward time, despite not being a battle royale game (or a title in a more “established” mainstream genre), and largely based on what people have seen, played, and heard so far…well, maybe its already time to consider its success to be more than an anomaly.