For a while now, I’ve talked about various games going up and down in Steam’s concurrent playercount lists (Starfield! Destiny!) but when it comes up that Baldur’s Gate 3 is high up the charts, I usually go “oh well that’s an anomaly in its own category and nothing is even close.”
Well, I figure it’s time to talk about what an anomaly it is because the performance we are seeing from this game is just absolutely insane. Here, after the Christmas holiday and a few sales, GOTY winner Baldur’s Gate 3 has rocketed up in playercount yet again, though it honestly never got very low at all.
This game launched on August 3, 2023 and now five months later this single player game has 220,000 players playing right now. That’s a lot of italics for emphasis, but it really has to be said just how wild this is. Look at these numbers from the past five months for its peak players:
- August – 875,343
- September – 584,548
- October – 333,010
- November – 202,546
- December – 258,536
It just went up by 25% over last month, where those numbers were even enormous at baseline. Again, the holidays, some sales, some gifted purchases, some time off work and school, but still. Baldur’s Gate 3 really is an abberation, not just this year, but in many years, as I have not seen a game perform this well for this long in ages. At least not a primarily single player one. So what’s happening to give it this kind of lifespan?
It’s pretty simple. The game is extremely good. It is a game of the generation contender. Some may say it’s a game of the past decade contender. It is an elaborately woven tale of character development and creative gameplay in the vein of Dungeons and Dragons that will stun almost any player, even those new to TTRPGs.
The second factor is that it’s…extremely long. You can blitz through the game in a few dozen hours, but most playthroughs would be over a hundred. Many could be closer to 300. Many could go far longer than that, and this is not counting multiple playthroughs where you can play out one of a thousand in-game scenarios differently and have a totally different experience.
But those two things combine to make this work in a way other games cannot. It’s a game so densely packed you can get close to infinite hours out of it. But the game is so good it allows players not to burn out even after those hundreds of hours because they’re still discovering new things, still having a great time. And here we are, ending up at this wild anomaly that is barely showing signs of slowing down and this month, even speeding up. It may be years before we see anything even remotely like this again.
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