Obsessing over player count and “dead games” makes the game worse

Not so long ago, we knew exactly which games sold the most copies. If you wanted to know how many people bought Splinter Cell vs. Kingdom Hearts in the fall of 2002, the numbers were right there (opens in a new tab), provided by a research company called NPD, which obtained sales data directly from retail stores. Mathematical magic!

20 years later, we’re still comparing games against each other, but we’re now living in the age of service games, where the biggest games are free-to-play and sales numbers don’t tell the whole story. We no longer measure the effectiveness of a game in millions of dollars, but in how many millions of people play it.

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