No Man's Sky gives players a nearly infinite universe to explore. Unfortunately, the fact that it doesn't give players more to do or fill that vast universe with more interesting sights appears to be having an effect.
The game released on PC through Steam on Friday, Aug. 12 to huge sales but mixed reviews. It's still among the current top-selling games on the digital storefront, but its number of active users has taken a massive plunge less than two weeks after release.
According to data from SteamDB, No Man's Sky had roughly 212,000 players on launch day, and it's only gone downhill from there. Fast-forward two weeks, and the game currently has 15,000 active players.
Of course, some decrease in player numbers is expected. With very few exceptions, a game will see its highest number of players immediately following the game's launch. However, multiplayer and crafting games, like Minecraft, Terraria and No Man's Sky, do tend to maintain higher player numbers thanks to the very nature of their gameplay. These types of games are endlessly replayable in the sense that players can continue to gather resources, build and explore to their heart's content, with no real "end" to the game itself.
In fact, the five-year-old Terraria actually has more current players than No Man's Sky, thanks to frequent updates over the years and addicting gameplay. Though No Man's Sky includes billions of planets to explore, most players have found that the vast majority of planets feel the same. There are no surprises, and the game's progression and crafting doesn't seem to maintain the interest of most players for long.
That's not to say there haven't been spikes in playtime. Last weekend, for example, saw nearly 50,000 people log on to play, and naturally, a weekday will see a smaller number of users than a weekend. Still, for one of the best-selling and most-anticipated games in recent memory, it's fascinating to see how quickly players seem to have lost interest in it. The active player numbers spike during the night, but generally continue to trend downward over the previous day.
It's worth keeping in mind that this data is only for No Man's Sky on PC. There's no telling how many players are still exploring in the PlayStation 4 version of the game, but we do know the game made quite a splash sales-wise.
Perhaps new features added via updates in the future will cause more players to return to the universe created by Hello Games, but for now, it seems like the universe of No Man's Sky is far emptier than anybody could have expected.