Darwin’s Doom: Evolve is Already Dead

At the time of writing this, it’s Saturday 7:45 p.m. It’s prime time for gamers. On Steam, around a half a million people playing Dota 2, almost 200,000 people are playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive,  22,000 people are playing PAYDAY 2, and a whopping 2,000 people are playing Evolve.

It’s safe to say that any reviewer that asked the question “will anyone still be playing Evolve in a few months?” just got their answer. For all intents and purposes, and by every measure we have available, Evolve is dead.

Let’s put that number into perspective: around the same amount of people were playing Alien: Isolation as were playing Evolve. For those of you who don’t know, Alien: Isolation is a single-player, story driven game that came out in October. While it does have a challenge mode with leaderboards, it has no multiplayer to speak of and, while it does have some replay value, it doesn’t have six months of replay value. Evolve, on the other hand, is a game almost exclusively designed for multiplayer, that came out in February.

When compared to similar multiplayer-focused games, the number of people playing Evolve is even more depressing. Dying Light, for instance, a four-player co-op zombie survival game, had 3,500 players at the same time. Sure the appeal of Dying Light is easy for Evolve players to scoff at, insisting that their game is more tasteful and in-depth, the fact of the matter is that Dying Light is still a story-driven game. Whether you play it by yourself or with three friends, there is a beginning, an end, and little reason to continue playing after that point.

While you may be able to chalk up the Alien: Isolation comparison to its 75 percent off Steam sale, there is no excuse for a AAA competitive multiplayer game to have fewer players than Dying Light. It’s been like this all week, too. You too can repeat this experiment. Check Steam Stats, as I did, at specific times throughout the week. If Evolve ever eclipses 4,000 players in-game, that would be the highest I’ve seen it at, and that would still be so far behind the elite multiplayer titles mentioned above that it’s not even worth comparing.

Related: How Evolve’s DLC-Focused Business Model Spoiled the Reputation of a Great Game

So much for Evolve‘s open beta stats, which boasted almost 6 million matches played, and almost 5 million people watching Streams of it. For the record, though, PSN and Xbox Live do not keep track of the total number playing a particular game, but while it is possible that tens of thousands of people are playing on those consoles, while the game just didn’t resonate with PC, I doubt it.

What’s to blame for this sharp drop? Take your pick. The obvious choice is the DLC model, which even Ebeneezer Scrooge would call greedy. You could also point to the fact that the opening several minutes of every match is skulking around a jungle in futility – not necessarily the most fun. Regardless, game developers need to be very careful of repeating the mistakes of Evolve.