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Player engagement is a difficult thing to maintain for a game after six months. Heck, in today's market maintaining player engagement after six weeks is a blessing for a lot of studios. But how do you manage to keep up that engagement for six years? Well, Bethesda's Todd Howard explained it in an interview.
Gamespot managed to get in word with famed game director, Todd Howard, who told Gamespot that both Fallout 4 and Skyrim have managed to retain millions of active users over the years. In fact, it's not just millions of players over the years, Howard states that both games maintain millions of daily active users. Yes, millions. It's a remarkable success, no doubt about it.
Of course, millions of DAUs is a pretty significant claim to make, right? Well, there could definitely be some truth to it. According to the Fallout 4 Steam Charts, they're averaging around 40,000 active players a day on PC alone. Whenever new content arrives it can blast up to 75,000. That's also not including people playing offline and playing on the Xbox One and PS4, which would mean there's at least several hundred thousand Fallout 4 players engaged with the game everyday.
For The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, _ the numbers are roughly the same on Steam Charts. They fluctuate on a daily basis from 30,000 up to 70,000 depending on what mods are released or whether or not some new content is available. Again, this also doesn't include people playing offline. In the case of _Skyrim, unlike Fallout 4, it not only has an Xbox 360 and PS3 audience but thanks to the new Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition there's also the added contingent of Xbox One and PS4 users boosting the engagement numbers. So it's quite possible that they really could be maintaining millions of engaged users on a daily basis across the various iterations of both Fallout 4 and Skyrim.
Unfortunately, we don't have the console numbers to cross reference this data with. What we do know is that the PC versions of both games have managed to sell tens of millions of units. Steam Spy reports around 11 million sales on PC, and Statistic Brain reports a total of 23 million units sold across all platforms. So with 12 million or so users on the home consoles it's not impossible to think that a large percentage of them still deep dive into the game.
A lot of studios would probably love to have the level of engagement that Bethesda has managed to achieve with their games. It's actually one of the most sought after categories by mobile developers, especially in the free-to-play arena where user engagement and daily active users are key to maintaining success.
However, one of the big differences between mobile developers and what Bethesda is doing is that Bethesda actually makes games people want to play and play a lot. It's hard to achieve a high DAU when your product is little more than a clicker or a cash shop with a pretty coating of pixels. Despite the obvious flaws with both Fallout 4 and Skyrim, both games still offer gamers a ton of content to experience and some great user mods to expand and evolve that experience even further.