Square Enix has announced Outriders — People Can Fly’s co-op RPG shooter — is poised to be the company’s “next big franchise.” With over 3.5 million unique players in the first month, the future for the game seems bright despite its troubled launch. In Square Enix’s own words, “with acclaim from both players and critics across the globe, Outriders is on track to become the company’s next major franchise.”
The announcement was made in a press release published earlier this week. With an average of 31 hours of playtime per user, the game is said to have achieved “extremely high engagement for co-operative play.” This internal data has been collected from April 1 to May 1.
“We and the amazing team at People Can Fly are so excited with this initial success,” said Jon Brooke, Co-Head of Studio at Square Enix External Studios. “Launching a new game IP is never easy and we remain very grateful for the community’s support and feedback – we continue to listen carefully and want to assure everyone that we are committed to improving and enhancing the experience in the coming weeks and months. We also look forward to expanding on Outriders in the future.”
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Outriders has had an eventful launch, to say the least. It’s been highly popular, amassing over 109,000 peak Steam players only a few hours after it first released. That’s triple the amount of all-time peak Steam players for Square Enix’s other recently launched live title, Marvel’s Avengers. But it’s also been eventful in its share of problems. For example, the developers had to move quickly to fix a prominent bug that wiped players’ entire inventories. This surely affected the average playtime and number of players who have stuck around or checked out the game.
But I feel like, while a lot of games have sunk under similar circumstances, Outriders has been able to thrive because of its excellent and constant communication with its playerbase. This can be seen in the accompanying posts on Reddit after the team’s announcement of the 3.5 million unique player milestone. It’s easier for players to understand issues when developers are entrusting them with frequent transparency, as can be seen in a recent post about a patch delay by the Outriders community manager.
While Outriders was meant to be “complete” at launch, the developers have “so many more stories to tell, and a lot of ideas we want to explore that we couldn’t fit in the original game, so we’re happy to create more content in the future,” according to Creative Director Bartek Kmita in a Forbes interview. “Anything we would make would be in the form of significant expansions with self-contained stories.”
Outriders launched on April 1, 2021, and is available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Steam, Epic Games Store, GeForce NOW on PC, and Google Stadia. It is also available on Game Pass. As a result, this means there probably haven’t been 3.5 million copies sold. However, it’s a significant number of unique players that make future content, fixes, and perhaps even a sequel someday, all the more likely. People Can Fly is also currently working on two other AAA projects: a new game for publisher Square Enix and a recently announced original, action-adventure title for Take-Two Interactive.