Palworld breaks 2 million concurrent players on Steam and becomes second most-played game ever, blowing past Counter-Strike 2 [UPDATED]

Palworld flight
(Image credit: Pocketpair)

What you need to know

  • Just a few days after its launch, Pocketpair's new "Pokémon with guns" open world survival creature capture game Palworld is already breaking Steam records.
  • Specifically, it reached 730,000 concurrent players earlier this morning, making it the 10th most played game in Steam history.
  • That number continued to soar until Palworld peaked at 855,425 players, putting it within striking distance of Baldur's Gate 3's record of 875,343.
  • In addition to being available on Steam, you can also play Palworld on Xbox or on PC through the Microsoft Store client. Notably, it's on Xbox Game Pass as well.
  • Update: Palworld's ascent continues, with the game reaching 2,010,117 concurrent players on Steam earlier this morning. This puts it over the 2 million player milestone, and increases its lead over Counter-Strike 2's position.

Update 1/24/2024 at 4:10 p.m. PT / 7:10 p.m. ET: How many times do I have to come back and update this article? Palworld has yet again skyrocketed to another milestone, soaring past 2 million concurrent players when it hit 2,010,117 this morning. This widens its lead on Counter-Strike 2's peak of 1,802,853, though PlayerUnknown's Battleground's January 2018 record of 3,236,027 is still on top.

In case you haven't heard — and I'm willing to bet you have — Palworld is absolutely blowing up the internet right now. Though often simply described as "Pokémon with guns," there's much more to it than that, with creature capture mechanics that are woven elegantly into wider survival and base-building systems. Developer Pocketpair released the wild new game a few days ago on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, and it's already hitting historic milestones.

Earlier this morning, Palworld reached over 730,000 concurrent players on the Steam Charts, rocketing past Goose Goose Duck to become the tenth most played game in Steam history. That number continued to soar to an astounding peak of 855,425, nipping at the heels of Baldur's Gate 3 in the ninth place position at 875,343 players. At the time of writing, it's also the second most watched game on Twitch, and one of the biggest trending topics on social media, too.

"The number of Steam users currently playing Palworld has exceeded 730,000!!! The 10th highest all-time peak in Steam history!" wrote Pocketpair in a post this morning, expressing the studio's excitement at the explosive success. "We can't control the momentum at all. Thank you so much everyone for playing Palworld!"

An explosive start for Palworld

One of the massive Pal bosses you'll encounter in Palworld's open world. (Image credit: Pocketpair)

It's an absolutely incredible launch for the Early Access title, so much so that Pocketpair had to have an emergency meeting with Epic Games just to try and keep things running smoothly in the backend. The developer probably wasn't expecting millions of Palworld copies to sell in just two days, but thankfully, most of the game's multiplayer connectivity issues appear to have been resolved by now.

But what about Palworld is so good that it's threatening to surpass the concurrent player record of last year's Game of the Year? Ultimately, I think the success mainly boils down to the fact it's both easy to jump into and creatively designed. Using Pokémon-like critters to help you build farmsteads and fight off settlement raids aren't exactly common ways to experience the monster collecting genre, and difficulty-wise, it's in a sweet spot where players of all skill levels will have a good time with it.

Another thing that makes Palworld attractive is its complete lack of microtransactions or a live service-style structure. If you ask me, that's pretty refreshing in an era where every multiplayer game seems to have a battle pass to grind or a middling amount of content up front, with more promised in future "seasons." It may be in Early Access, but it's relatively polished and offers a "full" experience.

There's also something to be said about Palworld's tongue-in-cheek tone, as well as the sharp contrast between the cuteness of its adorable critters and the brutality of its colorful violence. It's so absurd and ridiculous that it's been labeled a "meme game," but hey — we could all use something funny to laugh at these days, right? I mean, the game's 69th Pal is Lovander, a monster "seeking a night of love." Come on.

Man the guns! (Image credit: Pocketpair)

The Steam version of Palworld is considered the best overall right now since it's the only one that allows you to set up and join dedicated servers that have 32 player slots. With that said, it's important to note that you can play the Xbox and Microsoft Store editions through Xbox Game Pass, and aside from the servers, every other part of the game is identical on these platforms.

Regardless of which version you choose, though, you're sure to have a great time. After all, Palworld has quickly become one of the best Xbox games and best PC games to play right now, and it's only going to get better as Pocketpair gradually improves and adds to it over time.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • fjtorres5591
    Well, looks like MS did have a big "shadow drop" for Game Pass, after all.😎
  • Brendan Lowry
    fjtorres5591 said:
    Well, looks like MS did have a big "shadow drop" for Game Pass, after all.😎
    Haha, that's certainly one way to look at it!