Despite a very successful launch at first, Halo Infinite’s Steam player count has dropped to dangerously low levels – even lower than Battlefield 2042.
Despite its early success, recent months have shown how difficult Halo Infinite is, even compared to a game that has been severely criticized. Infinite’s first fall 2021 release has been well received – despite many of the features Halo was expected to be absent at launch – in part due to the game’s free-to-play multiplayer feature, there is only option to buy in game for seasonal items and tickets. Even so, in less than a year, Infinite has seen a spike in player numbers, at least on Steam. For a franchise that has previously been known for its long-running multiplayer appeal, this is a bad sign – especially considering developer 343 Industries’ post-launch support for this game title.
Meanwhile, another 2021 shooter has continued to appear – Battlefield 2042. Steam user reviews for the most recent installment of DICE have never been good, with “mostly negative” reviews. all the time, and recent reviews are only “mixed”. Despite this negative reception, sales of 2042 remained high for Battlefield, selling 4.2 million copies in its first week.
Neither game did well especially based on the number of players on Steam. As of July 2022, both games tend to peak between six and eight thousand daily concurrent players, and both make significant jumps when new installments launch in early summer. However, the new and returning players of 2042 may stay while Infinite will not. The most recent numbers show that DICE’s game has almost twice as many players as Infinite’s daily average.
Additionally, Infinite has previously managed to maintain a significantly higher player count than in 2042, but is currently struggling to do so. The latest content update for 2042 certainly affects these numbers, but this comparison speaks to Infinite’s difficulties more than 2042’s massive resurgence in popularity. Lone Wolves, section Monday for Halo Infinite, which had a notoriously tough launch, leaving Infinite’s developers to deal with backlash and the promise of changes. Additionally, some of the features that were promised to be key to Halo such as the unique identity and success of previous games, like the co-op campaign and Forge mode, are still missing in Infinite.
It seems 343 is aware of its precarious position. They continued to support Infinite for months with new game modes, Fracture events, and items; but this doesn’t seem to be enough, as player numbers on Steam dropped rapidly after Lone Wolves launched. As for Battlefield, the launch of the first season in 2042 – Zero Hour breathed new life into the game, although player numbers once again began to dwindle and neither game was able to achieve that goal. consistent player base the way Destiny and Rainbow 6 Siege have.
Maybe the next updates will bring new players and old ones back to Halo – promises like Forge mode and an upcoming beta for Infinite’s co-op campaign are in the works and will eventually reach gamers (and it’s a nice sight for both 343 and DICE that both continue to support their work post-launch despite these difficulties). Additionally, Microsoft often doesn’t publish player numbers, which confuses Infinite’s popularity on Xbox consoles compared to the data available through Steam; the same is true for the year 2042 on both Xbox and PlayStation.
However, the current numbers don’t look good. For companies that used to exploit AAA games, both Halo and Battlefield have fallen short. Should Microsoft be concerned that their flagship title for the Xbox Series X has rapidly lost its relevance, less than a year since its launch? Only Microsoft could know that, but while the internal numbers might tell a fuller story, Halo Infinite is clearly not the massive success the company could have hoped for.
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