Despite Player Decline, PUBG Isn't Doomed

This week, portions of the PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds community whipped themselves into a tizzy over charts showing that the game's active player base has been in decline since mid-January. This comes amidst a backdrop of growing dissatisfaction with the game.

Sites such as SteamDB and Steam Charts, which derive their numbers from publicly-available Steam data, show that PUBG has gone from steadily rising numbers of concurrent players since early last year to a pronounced decline this month. Yesterday, for example, both sites say the game drew an average of around 1.7 million concurrent players, down from the 2.5-3 million range it's been pulling since November 2017. While the game has seen similar dips in numbers before, those lasted just a couple of days. Yesterday's lows come after nearly a month of slow decline, with the last week seeing a particularly pronounced drop.

Some players, incensed over continued cheating problems as well as technical issues, have taken the waning player base as a sign that the PUBG Corporation is finally reaping what it's sown. "Bluehole has been completely silent and gone back on their word many times," reads a popular post on Reddit about the player count drop. "Poor servers, poor programming, constant maintenance... I'm glad this game will finally get treated on how they have been treating the fanbase, being lazy and silent."

A similar thread on PUBG's official forums, meanwhile, suggests that players are bored due to a lack of substantial new content since the game's release. "There have been no major game updates to keep the game fresh compared to a game like Fortnite which receives an update every week or two with hundreds of changes included in each update," reads the first post in the thread. "I also feel like there isn't enough communication between the players and the developers."

Then there's the game's Steam forum, which, these days, read like one long, uninterrupted rant about cheaters. One of the first people to call attention to the player count drop, Bloomberg tech reporter Yuji Nakamura, also pinned the blame on PUBG Corp's handling of cheaters, hackers and ne'er-do-wells.

To be sure, PUBG is still rough around the edges despite no longer being in early access, and the less-than-positive response to new map Miramar is likely contributing to the feeling that the game's been buried under a thick layer of stale dust and tumbleweeds. Cheaters aren't helping. On top of that, battle royale is a genre that eats its own - at least, if H1Z1's precipitous fall from grace is anything to go on. Fornite's been crushing it lately, which puts PUBG in even more of an awkward spot.

PUBG's rockier-than-usual patch, though, is partially the result of priorities. The developers have spent the first part of this year focusing on the game's perceived biggest problem, cheating, something players have been asking them to do for months. The developers banned over one million players in January alone - something that might be contributing to the decrease in overall player numbers - and have spent February implementing new anti-cheat tech. Only time will tell if all of that yields results, though. The devs have also said to expect a 2018 development roadmap soon, suggesting that an end to the drought of New Stuff might be nigh.

The PUBG colossus is finally showing some vulnerability, but it hasn't fallen down and exploded yet. It's still the most-played game on Steam by a historically wide margin, having just hit 30 million copies sold, and while some players might be cooling on it, a down period is natural after the smoking-hot crate drop that was PUBG's launch. It's worth noting, too, that this isn't the only sharp drop off the game's experienced in the past few months. The player count briefly plummeted to similar places in mid-December and mid-January, too - only to recover shortly after. This decline has been more sustained, but it isn't too late to reverse course. Not yet, anyway.


    It's buggy af. I had far less issues with the beta. Fix your shit Bluehole!

    Its pretty playable to me. Best squad size or mode is duo. Less kittens to herd.

      Last 4 random squads have been Chinese players which have team killed me 4/4 times.

    Only problem I keep running into is the game locking up on the loading screen every 3-4 games - quickly killing it and restarting usually lets me get back into the game by the time the round starts. A bit annoying but it isn't ruining the game for me...

    I loved playing this game. Preferred squad games over single player, but often found myself going into solo games when mates weren't online just to play another game.

    That desire has dropped off so much in the last two months thanks to cheaters/hackers and Bluehole's lack of not doing anything or looking like they're doing nothing by keeping quiet on it and accusing us of being xenophobic for wanting to get rid of what their stats say a little less than half the player base is from China and 99% of them are cheating accounts.

    But they're always more than proud to declare the amount of players they have or as of late, the million plus bans they've handed out in one month alone. Which still hasn't helped the problem.

    Playing in one mode over another to have significantly less cheaters/hackers should not be a solution either.

    I still feel this game is unoptimised as fuck. My pc seems to handle lots of modern games well. But pubg needs the graphics cranked down so low to just get by

    #geoblockchina there fixed 100% of hackers, now time to move one

    what they should of done.

    Brownhole are in over their heads and haven't a clue on how to manage a game of this scale in more ways than one... Pubg had so much potential, I dont see it ever living up to it in their hands.

    Love the game but gotta agree with:

    Poor servers, poor programming, constant maintenance... I'm glad this game will finally get treated on how they have been treating the fanbase, being lazy and silent

    Last edited 18/02/18 7:59 pm

    Meanwhile, it's pretty stable on my og xbone, bar the avg graphics and slow frame rates at times. But most ppl r on the same footing so that does not bother me. What bothers me is hiw crap I am!

    Hackers kill a lot of the desire, but what really killed it is the fact that I moved to an area with terrible internet and now only get 1-4Mbps with 800 ping

    They need to address the number one issue - being able to sell PUBG items on Steam.

    Sure, fix the loopholes hackers are using to allow their cheats, but they'll keep coming back.

    As long as they can keep buying new copies of PUBG with money made by selling items earned while cheating. It's circular, and it feeds itself. BrownHole doesn't want to stop it, because they're making too much money off it.

    Cheater runs rampant for X games, earns BP, buys crates, sells whatever is inside, makes money, gets banned, buys another copy of PUBG with what they made. How anyone isn't highlighting this as the number one problem with PUBG is beyond me.

    Fix the hacks, but most of all, remove the incentive to use them in the first place. Cheaters are literally making money cheating.

    Or just realise BrownHole/PUBG Corporation are milking this for all it's worth, and just go play something else that isn't flat out disrespecting your time. Remember when everyone was fanning out over PUBG and were all 'LOL FORTNITE'? Look which one is the more popular at the moment. I've barely played Fortnite, so I can't comment - but I quit PUBG months ago after literally 80% of games being a hackerfest.

    90% of hackers were from China and banned.
    Only to sell/transfer the shit they got to another account, sell it, and re-buy the game, to do it again.

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