After the usual online game launch issues, in this case Lost Ark going down for maintenance before its f2p launch and then delaying server deployment for almost six hours, Smilegate’s hit Korean MMO finally had its full western release.
In the days prior, so many players had been preloading that Steam strained under the weight. Once the floodgates opened, Lost Ark hit a peak of 984,111 concurrent players, a total it’s gone on to beat the day after launch, when it peaked at 1,325,305 players. That made it number one on Steam’s top 100 for the day, beating Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (959,550 players) and Dota 2 (722,671 players). It also beat both games’ records for highest player peak: 1,308,963 for CS:GO and 1,295,114 for Dota 2.
Let’s talk more numbers: While this total doesn’t put Lost Ark in the same league as PUBG, or as it’s now officially and ridiculously known, PUBG: Battlegrounds), which set the record for most simultaneous players on Steam with a total of 3,257,248 back in 2018, it does put Lost Ark ahead of Cyberpunk 2077, which boasted 1,003,264 concurrents at its height. Of course, some of Lost Ark’s players may well have been in queues rather than actually running around Arkesia pressing G to skip through questgiver dialogue, though that seems to be much more of an issue on EU servers rather than NA ones. (Personally, playing on west coast US servers from Australia, I’ve never been put in a queue.)
As for why Lost Ark has attracted so many players, the exodus from World of Warcraft to other MMOs certainly plays a part. Final Fantasy 14 received many of those disaffected members of the Horde and Alliance, as did New World—though it seems like New World’s endgame didn’t prove as popular. Beyond that though, Lost Ark is that rare thing: an MMO where the combat isn’t shit. With its top-down perspective and massed, clustering enemies, battles in Lost Ark play like an action-RPG. The flashiest attacks—like the thunderstorms and meteors the sorceress throws around, or the constant explosions surrounding every advanced class with guns—make fights a genuine spectacle. Lost Ark gets better as it goes on too, with additions like strongholds, PVP, and endgame activities including guardian raids and chaos dungeons giving you something to work toward. There’s good reason Lost Ark is so popular in Korea.
Anyway, thanks to these impressive numbers, we can all look forward to seeing YouTubers confidently declare Lost Ark dead when the playercount starts to stabilise in several week’s time.