Amazon’s journey to bring Korea’s Lost Ark to the West has been an unqualified success, as the game has become one of the most concurrently played in Steam history, and is still performing well even after a huge swath of major releases this past month.
Seeing Lost Ark on the chart got me wondering what happened to Amazon’s other initial success, New World, the MMO that put up surprisingly huge numbers at launch, and was supposed to be the first real big “win” for Amazon Game Studios after a string of cancellations and failures.
Well uh, things are now not…going great.
Since its debut in late September 2021, five months later, New World is now getting peak playercounts that are roughly 3% of the original playerbase it had at launch. In an MMO market that’s all about player retention, that’s not a good sign, and the drop-off has been consistent and clear.
Even as recently as the beginning of 2022, New World was still peaking with over 100,000 concurrent players on the regular. Now? Its 24 hour peak is 29,000, and it’s on the verge of dropping out of the top 50 games on Steam as we speak. It’s being outperformed by the likes of The Witcher 3, Left 4 Dead 2 and Battlefield V. As of this very moment, even Cyberpunk 2077 has more active players.
New World has had plenty of big patches and new content additions over the months. It’s not like the devs just went totally silent and refused to produce any new content for the game. But something about New World is just not landing for the types of long term players who keep games like this running, and it’s unclear what’s going to reverse this trend. The game had problems with the economy being wrecked with duping, and more recently, endgame players were dismayed when Amazon raised the gearscore cap to 625 from 600 prematurely, and many quit as a result.
As someone who put about 100 hours into New World myself around the launch window, I simply drifted away as a I reached the endgame rather than scrounge for high level teams to clear the game’s hardest content. The entire landscape of the game has massively shifted because it’s based on faction warfare and maps being populated by other players. But losing 97% of the game’s players has meant a lot of server merges and/or barren landscapes.
This is why the MMO genre is so tricky to break into, especially with a brand new IP, and why few attempt it. Lost Ark has a leg up because it has a firmly established, built-out game that has already been successful for years in Korea and elsewhere. That’s part of the reason it’s found success in the West. New World, starting from scratch, has a much taller order, and I don’t know if it’s going to ever be able to get the kind of long term numbers Amazon was hoping to see, and thought maybe they could see, given how well it performed initially.
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