If Palworld was supposed to be a flash in the pan, a meteoric rise that would flame out quickly, well, it’s not happening that quickly.
Two weeks after its January 18 release, Palworld is the #1 game on Steam, currently with 1.3 million concurrent players, beating out CS2, Dota 2, PUBG Battlegrounds and Apex Legends, games which rarely, if ever, cede their top spots to anything else. And especially not for this long.
It’s true that Palworld may have peaked a week or so ago, hitting Steam’s #2 all time high water mark with 2.1 million concurrent players, but it’s still putting up stunning numbers. And as of a few days ago, it was also the #1 most played game on Xbox Game Pass, a place where about a third of its playerbase resides. Pocketpair recently announced the game had 19 million players in just two weeks, 7 million of which are from Game Pass, and Microsoft has announced they will bring extra support to the game to help the small team manage things like updates and fixes and optimizations. They lucked out with this Game Pass pick, and they’re not going to let it go to waste.
Why is Palworld still this widely played two weeks later, putting up Steam-best concurrents? Two main reasons:
1. As a multiplayer survival game with all sorts of customization options, it channels a bunch of previously popular games in the genre that you can play alongside friends, and when you add in Pokémon to the equation, it’s more appealing than many of them.
2. This game is a lot bigger than people realize. The map is huge, taking dozens of hours to fully explore. Base customization and building is close to infinite. And for the Pals themselves, you can have long term projects of not just catching all of them, and breeding and upgrading multiple Pals to get rare, powerful ones. Again, a process that takes a whole lot of investment, and a maxed out roster would be close to infinite playtime, with the way the game currently works.
It’s just such a cohesive whole, blending in mechanics from Fortnite, Pokémon and Tears of the Kingdom together in a way that shouldn’t work, but fit together seamlessly. Now that accusations of AI use and legal questions of the game “ripping off” Pokémon don’t seem to be going anywhere, it is free to exist and expand however it can.
No, I don’t know how long the ride will last, given that interest may fade and I’m not sure if Pocketpair can deliver new content fast enough to hold the attention of lapsed players. But again, if you want to keep playing Palworld, the game is really good at giving you an extremely long list of things you can do. It has an endgame, as it were, and that has kept loads of players happy so far, it seems.
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