Ex-Left 4 Dead writer says ‘bad data’ is hurting small devs using Steam early access

Player count doesn't mean everything.
Left 4 Dead characters being chased
Image via Valve

Former Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek has vowed never to use early access again after experiencing Steam player count woes.

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Faliszek claims “bad data” from websites using player count statistics from Steam leaves a lasting effect on the public perception of a title. This particular problem “works against smaller developers trying to use the early access ecosystem for how it was designed,” leading to players critiquing the number of gamers logging in as time goes on. 

The Anacrusis monster with four players fighting it
Forget player count, check reviews. Image via Stray Bombay

His latest endeavor, The Anacrusis is exiting its open beta after almost two years on Dec. 5, and has been impacted by this exact issue, according to Faliszek. Not only that, but he claimed in a Nov. 28 LinkedIn post that these numbers are usually thousands of players off, consistently.

Faliszek took issue with a particular portion of the community most gaming hobbyists are familiar with. In almost every gaming title, you’ll find a selection of players claiming a game is dying or has already kicked the bucket. These people spouting “dead game” and referencing a title’s player count are the issue, according to Faliszek. This seems to deter players from picking games, despite them not being fully released.

Player counts are an incredibly effective metric for developers. It’s typically viewed as a measurement of success within the community, particularly for live-service titles. Titles like Overwatch 2 and Counter-Strike 2 are often scrutinized as their player counts fluctuate from month to month. Drops in player count can be a result of sudden gameplay changes, making it a clear sign to developers that they’ve added something the community does like. Single-player experiences like Starfield and many others receive a similar treatment, despite this not being as relevant as time goes on. 

Fortunately for Faliszek, if he does follow through with his anti-early access promise for his next game, he won’t have to deal with this issue in its initial stages again.

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Author

Harrison Thomas
CS:GO, Overwatch, and Valorant Staff Writer - Played CS:GO since 2012 and keep a close eye on other titles. Give me a game and I'll write about it. Ranks are private information. Contact harry@dotesports.com