Friday, March 20, saw the highly successful launch of DOOM Eternal, the latest entry in Bethesda's long-running first-person shooter franchise. The Steam launch was particularly popular, peaking at 105k concurrent players, according to data provided by gaming-focused collection service GitHyp. It also debuted second on UK charts, behind only Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which shared the same release date.
This launch is approximately three times as large as that of Eternal's predecessor, simply titled DOOM. Intended to be a "soft reboot" of the popular series, Doom peaked at a mere 32k players during its launch month of May 2016, despite receiving generally favorable reviews.
DOOM Eternal's initial success could be a good sign for developer Bethesda, which has been going through somewhat of a slump over the past several years. In addition to DOOM's middling release, 2018's Fallout: 76 experienced both negative reviews and controversy while 2019's Rage 2 struggled to attract players due to a much-delayed Steam release. The studio's foray into virtual reality technology, 2018's DOOM VFR, experienced an unfortunate peak of only 277 concurrent players on Steam.
DOOM Eternal couldn't have come at a better time. People all around the world are stuck at home due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and are turning to games as a way to entertain and distract themselves as well as communicate with their friends in an appropriately socially distant manner. Taking on the role of a warrior and facing the forces of Hell is certainly a way to feel more confident and powerful during our very own "Hell on Earth" global crisis.
Bethesda's decision to allow a Day 1 Steam launch—in contrast to titles like Rage 2 and Wolfenstein: Youngblood—has definitely been to DOOM Eternal's benefit. It remains to be seen if the game's popularity will stay high as quarantines and "shelter in place" orders keep rolling out all around the globe.
Are you enjoying DOOM Eternal? What platform are you playing it on? Let us know!