Just how good it feels to play Splitgate cannot be stressed enough. Weaponry, jetpack movement and flanking unaware foes with portal mastery is all very satisfying. Halo veterans will feel right at home combining their existing Halo skills with 1047 Games’ portal twist. If it didn’t all work so well, it would be easier to dismiss Splitgate as a derivative ripoff. The tactical application for use of portals is boundless and plays excellently in the map design. All of this is good stuff, but in each case – there just isn’t enough of it to keep people engaged for too long.
The weapons each feel great to use – but there aren’t enough of them. The maps are masterfully crafted (with real thought put into where portal-able walls are) but there aren’t enough of them. Most crucially however, is the player reaction to this conundrum – there aren’t enough of them either.
Splitgate Has One Major Problem Right Now
In the weeks prior to Splitgate’s release, the PC community saw a little buzz around the game. It was certainly a tantalising proposition to mix Portal’s mechanics with Halo’s skill-based shooting. Any shooter fan worth his salt could see Splitgate was going to be a great competitive game with a high skill ceiling for those willing to delve into it. Come release, a good number were up for testing that theory.
On day of release, Splitgate enjoyed a healthy arrival of 11,901 players. Sadly, this figure is likely chalked up to curiosity as Splitgate would soon lose the vast majority of its well-earned player retention. Before its first month was out, Splitgate’s peak player count on Steam fell all the way to just over 5,000 players. The decline continued at an all too steady rate. Today, average peak player count is at 239 players. A crying shame indeed, but why has this happened?
A Poor In-Game Economy
When you’re making a free to play title, you need money quickly and steadily to survive. I’ll be the first to decry the existence of loot box economies in games but in the case of free to play titles, monetisation is the only way to survive. Implementing it in a way that respects the player and becomes a dependable source of income is devilishly tricky. It’s a balancing act that 1047 Games have quite simply failed.
Splitgate’s lackluster cosmetics could well be the harbinger of its undoing. When we look at other successful shooters out there, like Fortnite or Quake Champions, their customisation options are mind bogglingly varied. This variety adds a flavour of fun to these games that Splitgate simply doesn’t have. Each of the unlockable sets of suits don’t feel like fresh new rewards, so much as variations on a theme. Decals can be added to chest pieces that frankly look pixellated and feel pointless.
When you release a free to play competitive shooter in this day and age, if you don’t have a decent set of unlockables to incetivise further play – you have a problem. This is likely the root of Splitgate’s dwindling player count. While we have an XP bar that whizzes across the screen after each match, it counts for nothing if you have nothing you want to work towards. Worse still, if you are inclined to be a spender in games like this, you’ll not want to part with a penny for these underwhelming cosmetics. Heck, you get in for free, you play the game, get bored and leave.
Splitgate Has No Reason To Fail Entirely
After all this, it’s safe to say 1047 Games should be hearing loud alarm bells. They should be working their asses off to fix this issue. The last thing they need is to be disheartened by the current low player counts. Hopefully, they realise that Splitgate could grow into something truly special – a household name among competitive shooter fans.
The potential for larger maps with vehicles and higher player counts is really massive. If they’re going to create any semblance of that vision for expansion, they absolutely must get a handle on their in-game economy. It is a journey of progression I would love to be a part of. As it stands, there is no incentive for players to stick around after the initial honeymoon period.
Taking a look at Splitgate’s official site, I frantically click the “News” section. Ideally, I hoped to see something like dev logs or blog posts telling us what they’re currently working on. Sadly, the latest update there was a pre-release announcement of a free to play release… They have squandered what could have been a loyal community by remaining silent ever since. If 1047 Games are working hard on keeping their baby alive, the public don’t know squat about it. Not content with this, I have reached out to them myself in search of reassurance. Stay tuned with KeenGamer for their response (if we get one, that is).
The best thing we can do now is show 1047 Games that we are interested in their product. I have no doubt many of today’s readers would relish a Halo meets Portal experience. Bear in mind, all I have said today has nothing to do with gameplay itself, which is excellent. If you jump into Splitgate I guarantee you’ll have a great time. It’s simply a question of how long the honeymoon period will fade away for you. It’ll be up to you at that point to decide if you want to go on supporting it, or step away completely.