Publisher Daybreak Games’ competitive zombie survival shooter has fought its way back to the top of Steam.
H1Z1: King of the Kill’s number of players has grown 1,000 percent over the last six months, according to data-tracking site GitHyp. It is regularly among the top-sellers on the PC-gaming portal Steam’s Early Access channel, and it lands just behind Dota 2 and Counter-Strike as the No. 3 most-played game on that service. H1Z1: King of the Kill is debuted as a standalone game for $20 on Steam around 12 months ago after nearly a year of selling in a package alongside the core H1Z1 survival game. In King of the Kill, a couple dozen players join a server and then search out weapons and resources before fighting to the death. When your character dies, you’re out — the winner is the last person standing.
King of the Kill had a strong early debut, but its audience quickly moved on to other games. The game’s player numbers dropped to less than half before Daybreak launched a huge update in September. While this patch maintained the core gameplay, it introduced crucial improvements to the user interface and the in-game economy. King of the Kill’s September update also wiped characters, introduced regional servers, and added native Twitch integration.
GitHyp analyst Paul Curtin explained that after months of struggling to break 10,000 concurrent players, H1Z1: King of the Kill started seeing huge growth after the update. This was due in large part to YouTube and Twitch creators embracing the competitive shooter. As of the time of this writing, H1Z1 was the No. 3 most-streamed game on Twitch ahead of megahits like Overwatch, Hearthstone, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
“And things just keep getting better and better for the King,” Curtin wrote in a blog post. “Over this past weekend, the game reached its highest numbers yet with an average of 72,816 players per hour. During its record-setting weekend, King of the Kill also broke 100k concurrent players for the first time ever with a new all-time high of 110,109 players in a single hour.”
If other developers look to Daybreak and H1Z1 for inspiration to help breathe life into their games on Steam, the lesson is probably to embrace Twitch and other video services. But studios probably shouldn’t expect to usurp H1Z1’s place as King of the Kill.
Correction: This story originally said the player base grew by 90 percent. It actually grew by 1,000 percent.