Deathloop in numbers: like an air of deja-vu

Eight months have passed since the release of Deathloop, the latest Arkane Lyon game. Truly distinguishing itself from all the other AAAs in terms of gameplay, there has been critical success, as evidenced by the rather unanimous opinion of the press on Metacritic. With a score of 87, it ranks between Dishonored (91) and Dishonored 2 (86), and slightly above its Arkane Austin branch older brother, Prey (82). As a reminder, this is a immersive sim action-oriented, in which an investigation is conducted. But a reverse investigation, since the goal is to find how to execute, in a single day that repeats itself endlessly, eight targets located in different places on an island and at times of the day.

The player, this ungrateful

Despite its undeniable qualities, many glitches like bugs and pickup tuning have tarnished the picture, which has disappointed many gamers hoping for a better experience than when Dishonored 2 was released. Firstborn, Steam reviews have been a bit conflicting, especially because of this. It should also be noted that some of the more recent comments still address these same topics, which is clearly not normal after so long …

But to go a little further than the impression, something concrete is needed. Not wanting to read Steam’s nearly 21,000 ratings on the game alone, I turned to automated data processing by collecting as many usable comments as possible to count words. I had my eyes on the reviews in English, just over 12,000 comments, which seemed more than enough to get a good representation. From there, a long work of sorting and grouping similar words and different spellings allowed me to get this nice word cloud:

death ring
Word cloud from the occurrence count in Steam reviews in English for Deathloop

We can see that Deathloop was generally appreciated due to its gameplay mechanics and history. For example, there are many fun (in 15.2% of reviews), Good (12.7%), great (10%), little history (6.4%), game (5.8%) or even have a good time (4.3%) et unique (2.1%). But we can no longer doubt the technical problems when we see the number of words related to stability and optimization, such as for example it blocks (5.3%)problems (5%), stutterer (4.2%) o performance (3.8%) … It is all the more unfortunate that the other negative points, such as the botched end of the game (3%), the stupid AI (2.2%), the fact that the game is bad (2 , 4%), boring (1.2%), too easy (1.1%) or too repetitive (0.9%), they are much more diluted and ultimately don’t represent much experience.

Another interesting point, we can see that 1.4% of players cite Denuvo as the main cause of performance problems, even if it doesn’t seem first there is no clear consensus on the impact of anti-piracy software in Deathloop. At the point we are at, removing it would, at worst, cause good publicity and no doubt a placebo effect among players. On the other hand, 1.5% of reviews recommend waiting for patches and 1.1% only taking the game if it is on sale. We have to believe that so far not many people have followed neither the first nor the second recommendation, because except in December the number of players has decreased since the release.

Finally, to conclude with a flourish, we find 1.1%. Fuck yourself or fuck1 of shit and 0.4% of ass, proof that Steam’s censorship is only done on display. We will be very disappointed with the low occurrence of Potato which is found in just under 0.1% of comments.

In the spotlight

But let’s leave aside the opinion of the players and move on to rhinestones and sequins. Deathloop has been nominated an impressive number of times for all sorts of different categories and by different industry players: newspapers, but also groups of video game professionals. Here are the awards he has won in the most important ones or that have caught our attention:

We see it in the industry, the work of Sebastian Mittonartistic director and that of Dinga Bakaba, creative director, were much appreciated. Did all of these prices allow Bethesda to sell more games? It is probable, but unfortunately no reliable information allows us to say things with certainty. Data indicates that sales were fine when they started, mostly on the Playstation side (of which it’s a console exclusive) here and there, and it was Steam’s best-selling the week it was released, but the game doesn’t appear. in the SALES report which covers the entire French market for the year 2021.
The Steamdb site, which I’ve used extensively for stats, offers a relatively reliable method of estimating a game’s Steam sales – and one we’ve already used for the retro FPS file: we multiply the number of reviews by a constant to get the range. high and another for the low range. I calculated the estimated sales on the only the first eight months for Dishonored 2 and Prey, in order to have data comparable to the first eight months of Deathloop. The Dishonored numbers are excluded because they are totally outlandish, no doubt due to the implementation of the ratings of Steam after the release of the latter.

Deathloop - east fork.  8 months of sale
Steam sales estimated for Dishonored 2, Prey and Deathloop

It is generally accepted that Dishonored 2 and Prey sales have been disappointing (1.2). While there appears to be an improvement for Deathloop, we still remain in similar volumes. Keep in mind that we only see Steam data here, the aggressive marketing campaign may have paid off better on Sony’s console, especially since there wasn’t much competition on this platform. On the other hand, we must not forget that the Playstation exclusivity will last until next September, when even Xbox owners will be able to enjoy the title. A rebound in PC sales due to marketing on the Microsoft platform could widen the gap a little more with its ancestors.

The best game that nobody plays

On the side of the number of players, there is no ambiguity, Arkane games all have very similar tendencies. For example, here is the peak, which occurred for each at the time of their release:

Nb peaks of players
Figures from Steamcharts

However, we see that Deathloop didn’t start out in the best way. Even the first months of activity reflect this well, relegating it to the last position from the fifth month. The various major updates – the third one arrived a few days ago – failed to stem the bleeding. Right now there are only around 250-300 players logged in, which is around 4% of the initial player volume, which is clearly not very impressive, especially for a title with a multiplayer component. The graphs below show the percentage of players left over the months and the average number of players per month with the first time the games went on sale at -50% on Steam.

Much faster than Ubisoft games, Arkane games are sold at -50% between 47 days and 144 days after their release. Incidentally, we can see here that Prey really shouldn’t have hit the targets. Mainly because it also got a permanent price drop to € 40 in the fifth month, while Dishonored and Dishonored 2 got it in the eighth and seventh months respectively. The first promotion for Dishonored and Deathloop is likely due to timing, as it falls on Black Friday, so not necessarily indicative of poor performance. We could extrapolate the data from previous Arkane games to bet on a definitive price drop for Deathloop within a few weeks, but once again the acquisition by Microsoft could have completely upset expectations from Bethesda, which would then wait until release into the Xbox Ecosystem to try something out.

Break the cycle

Unlike industry professionals, the general public doesn’t seem particularly attracted to games whose gameplay is out of the ordinary. So when in addition, there are bugs and optimization problems, and the target population is also torn apart, not many players are left. And if the patches have definitely improved the technical aspect, this won’t solve the big problem of immersive sim of Arkane: their games are difficult to understand. Deathloop was also the worst of the four, chaining video after video to try and clarify the matter. Even in Nofrag, despite the focal point of elite PC gamers, many didn’t understand anything about the game cycle before its release. Nonetheless, the arrival on Xbox consoles and Xbox Game Pass, no doubt with great fanfare, could be a turning point bringing the game back into the spotlight, after a year of praise, explanations and updates. . It probably won’t be enough this time to reverse the trend, but who knows, maybe one day Arkane will be able to break the loop.

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