Focusing on player counts and “dead games” makes the game worse

There was a time not so long ago when we definitely knew which games had 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 there. (opens in a new tab), provided by a market research firm called NPD that obtained its sales data directly from retail stores. Mathematical magic!

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

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