Today I’d like to discuss a topic that you generally want to avoid for many reasons. First and foremost, I don’t like joining the PC vs. console discussion. There’s really already enough resentment going around. The PC crowd often feels like the beta testers for consoles. At the same time players on PS4 and Xbox voice frustration because they get content later. And well, there’s of course always the annoying question which platform has the most players, and hence is the most important to Cryptic and PWE.
In an ideal world we’d all be playing on the same server anyway, but several factors prevent a cross-platform merge. That’s why it’s a sensitive discussion because it separates communities that should actually assist each other. Nonetheless I’d like to pick up a topic that I’ve recently found on Lorehound. The author over there proposes that the console release of Neverwinter saved its PC version. There’s a bunch of numbers and theory to back up the claim and I don’t want to challenge the article as much and instead just add my own thoughts.
Steam Chart Not Too Reliable
One thing I have to touch from the article however is the steam numbers. The author claims that dwindling numbers on steam combined with an increased player count support the theory that most new accounts come from consoles nowadays. That might actually be the case, but the steam start is not a reliable source to point to.
First of all Cryptic is actively pushing its own Arc launcher and some of the decrease is probably just players no longer using Steam for Neverwinter. Also some active PC users might have switched to consoles because they prefer the platform. That’s probably not common, much less if you’ve already invested tons of time in your account on PC, but certainly a possibility. For a proper analysis you would need to erase those duplicates, which isn’t possible.
Last but not least I remember a dev saying that the player numbers on PC remained relatively stable lately. When we were still able to crawl the now closed Gateway, our own Auction House data certainly backed that up. While Neverwinter PC lost about 20% of its players throughout 2016 according to Steam, the amount of actual active players (based on the amount of auctions posted) were more stable. Between January 2016 and September 2016 more than 8,000 players were posting more than five auctions per week on PC. Throughout the year there was a minor decline as well, but not such a massive one Steam was suggesting.
Trending Back up?
And recently? Looks like the game recovered a bit! It got most of the players back that apparently left over the disaster that Storm Kings Thunder was. Mod 10 still holds the sad record of lowest concurrent users on Steam with 1,749 in October 2016. Now it’s back to Underdark and Maze Engine values. That being said, I can’t really disprove that the console version brought in more players, and possibly revenue, since its launch. But these are all hints that the PC version might not have been in trouble, at least not as much as people think.
Additionally, believing that the console release was mainly done due to financial pressure is a mistake of its own. PWE is a global company and Cryptic a relatively small asset. And assets are sometimes used to test certain markets. So maybe management simply decided that they want to try consoles, and Cryptic games were the most feasible to do so. I don’t think Cryptic realized that Neverwinter PC would die and then came up with that brilliant idea of porting the title to consoles. A struggling game might be dead before you are even able to finish it. So it makes a lot of sense that bringing games to console (Star Trek Online got ported at the same time) was an independent decision.
Has The Console Version Saved PC Neverwinter? Who Cares!
In the end it might not even matter anyway. It seems that Neverwinter as a whole is alive and rocking, and that’s the most important thing to take away here! But hey, it’s an interesting discussion and there’s some fun with numbers involved. So I definitely see why it’s popping up every now and then.
What’s your opinion on the topic? Was Neverwinter PC in trouble and got saved by the console release? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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