DayZ, the zombie survival game from Bohemia Interactive, has had a long and fascinating history. Starting out as a mod for ARMA 2, it quickly grew in popularity, reaching over a million players and causing sales of ARMA 2 to spike. Eventually the team started working on a standalone game, which released for Steam Early Access in late 2013. Since then it has sold extremely well, sticking near the top of the Top Sellers charts for many months. However, there seems to be some trouble brewing for the title, which still remains in an Alpha state. Reddit user lesi20 noticed that the overall player population for DayZ has steadily dropped as of late, reaching below 9,000 total players for each day. For comparison, just as recently as March the peak population was over 29,000 and April saw 25,000, with the game drawing around 40,000 for the first few months after launch.
What could have caused an over 50% drop in daily players in just the last couple of months? The sentiment seems to be that the game is still in a broken and buggy state, with recent updates only exacerbating the issues, rather than fixing them. There is a definite sense of distrust of the developers, with one user saying “I don’t think the people working on it are up for the task,” with many people agreeing. The development of DayZ has been remarkable for many reasons, but one of which has always been its openness to its fans. Dean “Rocket” Hall, the creator of DayZ, kept the fans and community involved in the process of making the game, putting out regular updates on its progress. This has continued with the current team, with Rocket having left last year, but it seems that the fans have become tired of seeing the process not yielding tangible results.
There is also the issue of other survival games taking the ideas that DayZ introduced and iterating or improving upon them. The Forest, 7 Days to Die, and many others have filled the survival niche that DayZ used to occupy on its own. With those games also becoming more stable and introducing extra features that DayZ might not have, some players have likely jumped ship to these other titles. However, some fans could simply be waiting for the game to reach a more stable state. Personally, I bought the DayZ standalone release on release day, played for a few hours over the next month, then decided to hold off until it was at least in Beta. If more players are like me than we could see a massive spike in player count later on. There seem to be a number of reasons why DayZ is currently losing players, but the big question is, can the team at Bohemia turn it all around? Hopefully they begin to soon as DayZ used to be one of the best gaming experiences one could have, maybe it can be again.