Phoenix Point declining player-base

With the upcoming DLC, I checked the steam charts with Phoenix Points players numbers today,
I admit openly, that I was disappointed from PP after initial enthusiasm, but I am surprised with this,

The numbers are very bad,

Well, I still hope, they will improve the game,


Yes, I personally see 3 reasons for this

  • No mod support
  • From midgame the game gets boring (for several reasons). This was at least responded with a survey
  • No real challenge for hardcore players and YouTubers usually belong to this small percentage of hardcore players. Long-range streamers are usually players with very good skills. As long as there is challenge, they play certain tactical games with several runs, see Darkest Dungeon, XCOM1, XCOM2, Civ series. These hardcore streamers keep attracting new players. Unfortunately, I don’t see them play PP for reasons that can only be appreciated.

Yeah, the big weakness of PP at the moment is its strategic layer. The tactical layer is pretty good, but to have a good strategic layer, you need a well-functioning economy (ie the way players gain and spend resources). And PP’s economic system has two big problems:

  1. Almost everything in the game can be bought with resources. Tech/food/materials can be used to buy extra Phoenix Bases, extra soldiers, equipment, extra manufacturing capacity (via fab plants), more research (via Research Labs), soldier health (via medkits), soldier experience (via Training Facilities), etc etc etc. EVERYTHING comes down to resources. And this is bad, because:

  2. The best way to gain resources is to identify the ‘farmable’ activities that let your soldiers accumulate resources (trading, haven raiding, etc) and do them over and over again. These ‘farm’ activities aren’t very interesting, and get even less interesting by the 10th or 15th time you’re doing them.

Or to put it more simply:

  1. the best way to get stronger is to farm resources;
  2. farming resources is boring.

It’s the combination of 1) and 2) that’s really deadly. If the best way to get stronger was to farm resources, but farming resources was fun and challenging, there’d be no problem. If farming resources was boring, but you didn’t need to do it, then there’d be no problem. But as it is, farming is necessary AND boring. Bad combination.

Back when I was playing the game and posting regularly on these forums and on the PP sub, I kept on going on about this – made forum posts, put up feedback tickets, etc. Since then there have been a ton of fixes and balance changes, but they’re all minor tweaks. I know it makes sense to focus on bugfixes and low-hanging fruit, but the longer the devs ignore the big problems with the game, the harder it’s going to be to do anything about it.

And then LotA came out, and it basically completely ignored these problems and (if anything) made them worse, by adding on a second economic system without fixing the problems of the first one.

So it’s not surprising that the hardcore Youtubers have stopped playing PP. It’s basically a ‘solved’ game at this point – once you’ve figured out how to play the strategic layer, you can easily get a 100% win rate on the highest difficulty. Compare that to something like Slay the Spire, where you can play it for hundreds of hours and still have more to learn.

At this point I’ve kind of given up, to be honest. I’ll try Festering Skies when it comes out, since I paid for it and I’ve put enough hours into the game that I’d like to see what its final version looks like, but it doesn’t feel as though the devs intend to make any significant changes any more. Looking at the Canny site, the closest I can see to anything that addresses any serious problems with the game is an ‘in progress’ note on a ticket saying ‘Attacking Faction Havens Should Have Worse Consequences’, but that feedback’s nearly a year old! And even then, you’re treating the symptoms, not the root cause, which is that success in PP, at the moment, basically comes down to farming.

So yes, I think the game’s going to continue to decline. It’s a bit sad, since I really like a lot of its aspects and I think it had the potential to be something special.


Phoenix Point is indeed not a perfect game but this is a pretty standard lifecycle of single-player games. Huge interest at launch and then fast decline. For comparison 2 games released around the same time that I was personally interested in: Cyberpunk 2077 - Steam Charts and Empire of Sin - Steam Charts

:sweat_smile: Is that really a company you want to willingly include Phoenix Point in?

Joking aside, while I didn’t buy it personally, it hurts that from what I heard Empire of Sin isn’t very good (and is very buggy). Gangster XCOM is something I wanted since I watched Godfather in highschool. And overall, from trailers Empire seemed to marry strategic and tactical layer in the most interconnected way I have seen so far. Too bad, neither of those seemed to be well fleshed out. Here is me hoping for a nice patch that will fix it’s issues, whatever they may be.

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TBH, I think what has hurt you guys most is lack of mod support.
The game you are constantly - and should be - compared to is the Firaxis XCOMs; and they have maintained a very active player base for more than a decade thanks to a vibrant and active modding community.


I think I remember Julian Gollop saying in one of those reddit AMA or similar that the game would support modding. Can anyone confirm that something like that was really said?

Actually, he said exactly the opposite.
He said that sadly they’ve discovered that the way they’ve built PP is not compatible with mod support on Steam. So there will not be any modding thru Steam Workshop.

This is already hurting the game imho, since QoL mods like Assorted Adjustments and popular mods like additional voicepacks etc are very rare on PP.
In the long-term, I think it will hurt the game even more, as it’s all the fresh mods that have kept XCOM alive for so long.


They’ve just discovered it. Lol. Whatever you said about current state of the game SnapShot had all the tools to make this a successful game. And they had the most precious thing: the intrest of the public. Instead they’ve just discovered they couldn’t pull it off. Like just be honest. You’re not making a game that willl last longer that Chaos Reborn because you don’t really know how to pull it off. Most devs don’t know it, so it’s nothing unusual or nothing to be ashamed of. But some of them have mod support so the players and modders can pull it off. But SnapShot discovered they didn’t make mod support by accident and they’ve lost and willl still lose milions of dollars in this accident. Hopefully someone will learn the lessons here.

Ooh look, we made a game without game support. It just happened this way. Maybe instead of this passive attitude: let’s change that and make this a successful franchaise? It can be still pulled off. Nope who the hell needs that. Let’s focus on another Chaos Reborn.

Having just completed the game I got a look at my campaign stats. I had done 140 missions. I think thats (part of) a big reason why the playerbase is declining. The game is…very lengthy. I think alot of people get burned out way before they reach the end. And the final mission dident give me the idea that theres alot of replay value.

I love the idea behind thinks like free aim, beeing free to equip your soldiers and all of that. The game has a lot of things going for it. But it sadly also has a lot of things going against it. The game also has no multiplayer or mod support so alot of the things that keep player bases going alot of times isent there to keep the game going.


Honestly I would like the game more if I didn’t have to deal with factions fighting each other as well as having to deal with Aliens, If we turned faction warfare off, I’d consider playing it more.

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It doesn’t work this way…

If by mod support you mean “let’s make the game so that it’s really easy to mod”, that’s something you have to choose to do at the time of making the game, and as all game development choices it’s not free. For a KS project by a game studio with no previous experience of the engine, it’s by no means an obvious choice.

I agree, it’s way too long, and you can end up doing way too many missions.

But imo there is a lot of replay value because of the sandbox, especially if you use some self restrictions, like not getting allied with everyone.

I played for a while, then gave it up.
I have spent many hundreds of hours in XComs over the years and was hoping for something in that genre.

To me - the crucial missing ingredient was suspense. In XCom, you’re always nervous about what is going to appear. I’ll never forget the time I accidentally exposed a Gatekeeper and his pod towards the end of my turn in a critical mission. Missions feel like stories.

Phoenix Point just never managed suspense / tension. You arrive, and though you might sometimes feel like you are being battered - unless you’re in a cave system, there isn’t much feeling of stepping into the dangerous unknown.

Has anything changed in that regard since I gave up (a year ago??)


I’m with you there. I always loved the suspense of going into the dark on an XCOM mission, and I feel it is sorely lacking in Phoenix Point.

For me, there’s enough going on in the sandbox/free aiming/AP system to make it stand out above the XCOMs, but I still miss that sense of tension you always got when you embarked on a new XCOM mission.


I don’t buy it. This game has finite amount of assets or areas that a player would want to mod: weapons, items, enemies, mission spawn logic, event system, etc. If you think about it beforehand it’s not so hard to make it with mod support but clearly nobody thought about it when making the game. The idea that Studio hadn’t had any experience with the engine is ludicrous. Just google how to do it with mod support if you don’t know how or find a guy that knows this stuff. Unity is still C#, not some alien code that nobody knows.

The reality is that someone who made this game thought modding not important. And it was done that way for that and only that reason. Not because it was too difficult. It was done that way because someone thought it doesn’t matter. And maybe it didn’t matter at the game launch. But year later with this apporach you’re arrving at the game survivability point and you’ll need to close the whole project because of those decisions. Like left and right you see decisions that end up shooting themselves in the foot and theY wonder why they’re not able to walk. Yeah they’ve earned some money, learned some lessons, made some DLCs but still didn’t deliver any long-term product and don’t even know why it didn’t pan out. So they’ll keep making those mistakes over and over in next Chaos Reborn projects or whatever they’are planning.

And I don’t agree with game life cycle comments. Games aren’t always declining. They can increase their player base over time and stop decline even. This is not given. PP just isn’t done in a right way to grow anything right now. Too many mistakes too many bad choices and attitude that we can’t change most of the things. In the end you reep what you sow in this business. And for most of the development cycle you sown declining player base. You’ve chased off more strategy oriented player. You’ve botched launch of the game. You don’t have any mod support. You’ve created some pseudo player Council that is closed-off and only for a show to fool yourself you’re making game for players where in fact you’re making it for yourself. Current players of PP are in reality playerbase only for some niche mod for Phoenix Point. The basegame that should be in its place doesn’t exist for dev team had other vision for the game. How this vision is panning out we all see on steam charts. It’s just a planned beforehand distaster. And nobody saw that comming. Really?


Ahh don’t blame me :slight_smile: Im just switching off to different games for a bit I still have the game installed and plan to come back to it.

I agree that free aiming is a fantastic feature.

I hope firaxis will shamelessly copy it for xcom 3 :slight_smile:

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I am by no means knowledgable in this area, but common explanation that I have encountered (not regarding Phoenix Point specifically) is that companies use tools to develop content. Content created this way isn’t editable without those tools, and those tools can’t be given to players. I am confident I am oversimplifying or am completely misrepresenting the issue, but the general point is: games are not moddable by default. Making a game moddable is a pretty sagnificant commitment, and needs to be implimented from the very beginning.

Modding can be added post launch, if it was planned to begin with. I haven’t seen a game add robust modding support just like that. And exception would be XCOM1, but from what I understand it’s more on LongWar team being technical wizards, though Enemy Within made a concious effort to grant access to more of the game’s systems.


Yea, as I understand it, XCOM:EW wasn’t very mod-friendly but Johnny Lumpkin & his team did such a good job with the LW that Firaxis made the deliberate decision to make XCOM2 as mod-friendly as possible - and the result is they still have an active player-base of more than 2,500 because of that.