The Day Before | Player count drops by over 80 percent within days of launch

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Once the most wish-listed game on Steam, zombie MMO The Day Before has seen its player count drop hugely, just four days on from its launch.

The subject of both anticipation and suspicion, zombie survival MMO The Day Before finally launched in Early Access on the 7th December after nearly three years of slick-looking trailers and delays.

That the game actually got a release at all marked quite a moment for the game, given the common accusations that it was so much vapourware, and a bizarre legal dispute over its title that saw it delisted from Steam for several months.

The open-world survival opus’ launch has meant that players have now been able to give their verdict – and looking at the available data, it doesn’t look too pretty for developer Fntastic.

As first noted by PCGamesN, The Day Before’s concurrent player count has dropped precipitously since launch. The game peaked at a shade over 38,000 players around the day of its release, which isn’t huge, but far from terrible. In the four days and counting since launch, however, that number has dropped precipitously according to SteamDb data, with just 3,391 people currently playing the game at the time of writing.

Reviews on Steam make for similarly grim reading – it’s currently rated Mostly Negative, based on the 18,126 reviews so far logged on the platform.

Now, the emergence of a disappointing, iffy game isn’t new, but what makes The Day Before different is the seeming disparity between the experience that was shown off in pre-release footage and the one that emerged this month. When the game was announced in January 2021, it immediately garnered attention for its detailed-looking post-apocalyptic world and detailed lighting and physics. It looked far more like a triple-A experience from a major firm like Ubisoft than an independent release from a relatively unknown studio.

Even as the game rocketed up the ‘most wish-listed’ chart, though, red flags began to emerge. First there was developer Fntastic’s lack of experience when it came to making MMOs. Then there was the story that it was being partly developed by 140 ‘volunteers’ who were paid with ‘cool rewards, participation certificates, and free codes’ rather than, you know, actual money.

Then there was the suspicious similarity to other games – the trailer that appeared to be a shot-for-shot remake of Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. The glaring similarities to established titles like The Division and The Last Of Us. The heavy use of off-the-peg assets in later trailers.

With the game now out, Steam reviewers have begun noting the disparity between the trailers and the game itself. “Not an MMO, not open world,” one player wrote. “This is a small area extraction shooter,” wrote another. “The devs deleted all the old videos showing the open world elements. The city is dead and there are barely any open buildings.”

In an attempt to address some of the technical issues levelled at the game, Fntastic has released a patch which is said to improve things like shooting performance and the spawn rate of zombies. In seeming anticipation of those negative reviews, the developer also released a statement before its release.

“Please don’t accuse us of scamming,” the developer wrote on Twitter/X; “that’s not true. We didn’t take a penny from anyone. Please don’t accuse us of asset flip; that’s not true also. Our team worked day and night to make our dream game a reality.”

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