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Palworld’s Community Manager says ‘its fine to take breaks’ amid negative player count discourse

Taking breaks is not a bad thing

After Palworld started sliding down the Steam charts, the usual it’s a dead game or dying chatter spun up, but I’m not inclined to go exclusively off of Steam’s player count to determine a game’s long-term health, and the same appears true for Pocketpair. The studio’s community manager, Bucky, seems to feel the same if their recent Twitter post is anything to go by. 

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It’s not very often that a game, especially one from a smaller studio, becomes as much of an overnight success as Palworld did. The stories of broken records came thick and fast: millions of players, concurrent player counts, the likes of which are rarely seen, and Pocketpair pumping out the patches to resolve issues as fast as possible.

It’s fair to say that Palworld was a phenomenon, and it still is. At the time of writing, 419,000 people are playing Palworld on PC according to SteamDB, and it’s currently third in the charts, above PUBG and Helldivers 2. Sure, there’s a gulf between 2 million players and 400,000 players, but after a month in and an explosive debut, perhaps it’s nothing of shock.

Is that really worth all of the bizarre player count discourse? By much of the standard set by other top 10 Steam games, 400,000 is no number of concurrent players to shrug at. Bucky recently took to Twitter to address the framing around Palworld, writing, “This emerging ‘Palworld has lost X% of its player base’ discourse is lazy, but it’s probably also a good time to step in and reassure those of you capable of reading past a headline that it is fine to take breaks from games. You don’t need to feel bad about that.”

Drop the FOMO

It’s a fair point, and it’s one that reflects some of my own past experiences. I know all too well what it’s like to put hours upon hours into a game, only to reach the point of burnout. It’s easy enough to “just log off,” of course, but the fear of missing out, being part of the conversation, etc., sometimes prevents me from stepping away. I’ve been there, and it’s come close to ruining my relationship with some games. The whole sunk-cost fallacy weighs heavily when you’re hundreds of hours into something.

Image via Pocketpair

Taking a break from any game isn’t just good; it’s necessary. It’s unhealthy to pour everything you have into a virtual world while forgetting everything else. Palworld isn’t going anywhere; Pocketpair has explicitly said that it’s only 60% complete, with last month’s roadmap acknowledging as much. Besides, as Bucky noted, “There are so many amazing games out there to play; you don’t need to feel guilty about hopping from game to game.”

Games, especially live service games, always have fluctuating player numbers. Final Fantasy XIV is an excellent example of this; player counts skyrocket at expansion launches. Once-dormant players hop back in, complete the new content, and disappear to play other games while waiting for more updates. It’s not always a case of abandonment when in-game goals run dry and sometimes that decline bodes better for us.

In practically every case, it’s unreasonable to expect games — especially those with progression systems — to maintain astronomical levels of debut success. It’s more puzzling when we judge said games strictly based on Steam data when they’re multi-platform. In the case of Palworld, its Xbox Game Pass success was a major part of the game’s online buzz, and while there may not be concurrent data available, 3 million daily active users is certainly above the launch norm.

Until then, I’m gonna have to encourage the sentiment here: “Play lots of games, try different genres, and frequently flick through indie libraries to find hidden gems.”


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Author
Paula Vaynshteyn
Paula has been gaming since she can remember and is now juggling family life with virtual adventuring. She is a long-time FFXIV nut with a passion for helping others in the game. If she's not writing or traversing the realms of Eorzea, she's either asleep or traveling between the UK and the US to see her fiancé, whom she met in Zadnor.