It's safe to say that the 2016 iteration of Doom was a success: the game garnered high scores from critics, did well with fans and pulled the franchise back into the limelight. id Software's focus on a lengthy, well-designed single-player campaign and an incredibly deep-level creation kit was the perfect way to update the series' 20-year-old formula ... though one piece of the puzzle didn't quite fit.
Doom's player-versus-player multiplayer was the one aspect of the game that wasn't well-received. Reviewers (ourselves included) loved the fast-paced nature of the campaign and the infinite possibilities of the SnapMap system ... but the awkward blend of Call of Duty-style leveling and Quake-esque level design ensure that the game's competitive multiplayer stumbled out of the gate. Combine that with a disappointingly traditional DLC structure and an extremely buggy launch, and it started to seem like Doom's multiplayer community was ... well, doomed.
That doesn't mean id Software is about to give up: the next major multiplayer update for Doom is scheduled for release on July 29, and will add in two new modes to the already-existing suite of options. It's great that Bethesda is publishing another free update, but ... if no one's playing the Doom multiplayer modes in the first place, will anyone really care?
First things first: Doom's multiplayer isn't terrible. It's definitely not good — the mix of perks, weapon loadouts and high-speed movement just don't work well together — but it's far from the worst multiplayer game on the market. Now that id Software has taken command of the multiplayer again, it's far easier to sit down and play a game ... even if it's still not all that fun to play.
Unfortunately, mediocrity just isn't good enough: according to Steam Charts, Doom's player base has been steadily declining ever since the game's launch. Without any new single-player content to latch onto, there's no reason for most players to keep coming back — and while SnapMap is a lot of fun, it'll only ever appeal to a small part of the community. Normally, this is where the multiplayer modes would come in ... but in Doom's case, that doesn't seem to be happening.
Doom's player base, as of this writing, is sitting right around the 3,700 player mark. That's not necessarily terrible, but it's far from popular — even the Steam Summer Sale wasn't able to make much of an impact, and Doom's numbers shrank back down almost immediately. What's even more telling is that, when the game's first free update was released, the player population barely changed.
Though Steam Charts only follows the PC versions of the game through Valve's client, the numbers don't lie: Doom's community is shrinking, and at a surprisingly steady rate.
Who knows — perhaps Doom's new modes and maps will be enough to reinvigorate the community. It's definitely a possibility ... though, if you ask anyone about what they want from Doom DLC, chances are they'll say something along the lines of "more single-player" before anything else.
For those who are still playing Doom's multiparty modes, the next free update will launch on July 29 — after that, the first premium DLC pack is set for release on Aug. 5. For more on the new multiplayer modes and SnapMap additions, head on over to Bethesda's official blog.