Babylon’s Fall, the latest online hack-and-slash action RPG from Square Enix and Platinum Games, has launched to a thoroughly tepid reception.
Released on PS5, PS4 and PC on March 3, the game looks to have struggled to pull in an audience, peaking at only 650 concurrent players on Steam since launch (thanks, VGC). At press time, its PC player count is floating at a rather meager 574, after dipping to a low of 66 a few hours earlier.
Although player stats on PlayStation consoles aren’t available, we can likely expect a similar turnout for Sony’s systems.
For comparison, even the ailing Battlefield 2042 has been able to consistently draw close to 2,000 concurrent daily players, despite seeing an exodus of fans since the bug-ridden game launched last year, and slipping below the player count of the nine-year-old Battlefield 4.
Reviews of Babylon’s Fall don’t cast the game in a better light. User reviews on Steam are currently 'mixed', with several players admonishing its excessive microtransactions and graphics, while others have praised its core dungeon-crawling gameplay loop. Even its Metacritic page remains all but empty, with critics largely ignoring the title.
Babylon’s Fall was never going to have an easy ride. The game’s release has been swamped by larger triple-A titles of the past few weeks, including Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring, which has almost single-handedly captured the attention of the gaming world.
Its launch day was further disrupted by a period of unscheduled emergency maintenance, which shut down the servers of the primarily-multiplayer game for a couple of hours. That left the, admittedly small, online community around the game voicing their disappointment.
But even before release, Babylon’s Fall had struggled to generate excitement. First revealed during 2018's E3, the game was later delayed and reappeared in 2021 with a new multiplayer, live-service focus. Square Enix released a free demo of the game a week before its release, although that doesn’t appear to have driven much enthusiasm for the title.
Analysis: a wake-up call for Square Enix and Platinum
The poor reception to Babylon’s Fall may well have Square Enix and Platinum rethinking their approach to live-service games. Platinum has previously said it wants to pursue new opportunities with "live ops" titles in an effort to "expand into new genres and styles of play", as well as experiment with games that can be enjoyed across longer periods to suit the current market.
Babylon’s Fall appears to be Platinum’s first experiment in that live-service field, and one that hasn’t gone to plan. The game launched with a full suite of live-service features, including microtransactions, an in-game currency, and a first season of additional DLC, retailing at a hefty $59.99 / £59.99 / AU$99.95. The sheer content that Square Enix and Platinum have prepared for the game would suggest they envisioned a long, bright future for the title.
That future is likely to be cut short. Live-service titles rely on dedicated playerbases that can be depended upon to return for each season of DLC and lap up every drop of new content thrown their way. The fact the game has struggled to attract even 1,000 players on its launch day, isn’t a vote of confidence in its favor. If Babylon’s Fall can quickly inflate its player count, the business model behind it will collapse, taking the game with it.
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Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games.