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Halo Reach’s Enormous Player Plunge Reveals an Unsettling Fact

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:30 PM
William Worrall
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:30 PM
  • Halo Reach was released on PC in December 2019.
  • Although it launched with more than 90,000 active players, that number quickly declined by as much as 90%.
  • This massive decline is a sign that player hype can no longer be trusted to indicate success.

The Halo series is unquestionably legendary. What started out as an unexpected hit for Xbox set the standard for first-person-shooters. So when Halo Reach finally launched on PC, the hype seemed justified.

Clearly, though, gamers who fantasized about a PC-fueled Halo renaissance didn’t know what they were talking about.

Halo Reach - Gameplay Screenshot
Even though people seemed excited about Halo Reach, they’ve abandoned the game in droves. | Source: Steam 

Did We Really Want Halo Reach?

During opening week, Halo Reach attracted more than 90,000 players. Just a month later, the number’s barely over 10,000 and falling by the day.

There’s one unavoidable takeaway: Gamers don’t really know what they want.

It seems clear that the Halo Reach hype was entirely a product of nostalgia.

Don’t get me wrong; it was a great game – when it came out in 2010. Nearly two console generations later, and with so many new games competing for our attention, is it all that surprising that gamers weren’t actually that enthralled by Reach when it hit Steam?

People clamored for the game because they had strong positive memories of it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But all it took was a few minutes for most gamers to realize they’d gotten their money’s worth the first time around.

Is the 90% Loss Figure Misleading?

There is another side to this story, though. Many places have been reporting that Halo Reach lost 90% of its player base. While this is technically accurate, it’s also a bit misleading.

The game only had 90,000 players during its launch week. By mid-December, the player base had already plunged to 25,000 – a more reliable baseline for active player statistics. But that still doesn’t change the fact that the game is hemorrhaging players at an alarming rate.

It’s true that Halo Reach was plagued by issues when it launched on PC.  Even so, it’s surprising to see so many players abandon a game they’ve supposedly been waiting on for almost a decade.

You have to wonder if publishers can ever trust the hype again.