Once Human becomes 9th biggest launch on Steam this year by peak CCU, but its terms of use cause controversy

Once Human is a new free-to-play multiplayer shooter with survival elements from NetEase’s subsidiary Starry Studio. The game has shown impressive numbers at launch, but player reception has been mixed so far.

Once Human peaks at over 130k concurrent players, but its TOS causes backlash from players

Launched globally on July 9, Once Human quickly reached 80k concurrent users on Steam and eventually peaked at 131,894 CCU in its first 24 hours (via SteamDB).

This indicates solid player interest and another strong launch for a free-to-play online game from Asian developers, following Nexon’s The First Descendant, which reached 264k CCU over the weekend. But keep in mind that Once Human’s player count may increase in the next few days.

The game will also arrive on mobile later this year, so it will be interesting to check its performance compared to other titles in NetEase’s portfolio.

Even the 131.8k peak already makes Starry Studio’s game one of the biggest Steam launches of 2024 in terms of peak concurrent players*:

*Note: The list doesn’t include several games from the SteamDB charts: Banana, which peaked at over 917k concurrent users, because a) it is more of an app for speculations rather than a game (people keep it launched for hours to get tradable cards) and b) it is unclear how many of those are bots; and games that reached their peak prior to 2024 (mostly Early Access graduates like Sons of the Forest and V Rising). Also keep in mind that Once Human and The First Descendant are the only free-to-play titles in the top 10.

  1. Palworld — 2.1 million CCU
  2. Helldivers 2 — 458.7k CCU
  3. The First Descendant (free-to-play) — 264.8k CCU
  4. Last Epoch — 264.7k CCU
  5. Dragon’s Dogma 2 — 228.5 CCU
  6. Content Warning — 204.4k CCU (reached its peak while being free-to-keep in the first 24 hours after launch)
  7. Manor Lords — 173.1k CCU
  8. Enshrouded — 160.4k CCU
  9. Once Human (free-to-play) — 131.8k CCU
  10. Granblue Fantasy: Relink — 114k CCU

Despite huge CCU numbers, Once Human launched to “Mixed” reception from players (just like The First Descendant, which was criticized for its monetization and technical issues). It currently has a 56% rating on Steam based on just over 7,000 reviews.

According to Steam Scout, 46% of all reviews are written in English, followed by Simplified Chinese (20.9%), Russian (48%), Spanish (4.9%), and German (4.17%).

At first, many users criticized Once Human for not allowing to create multiple characters, but Starry Studio quickly fixed the issue. Others also didn’t like the game’s monetization, calling some of its elements pay-to-win.

However, one of the most popular points of criticism is Once Human’s Terms of Service, with players saying that it lacks transparency. The game informs users about the requirement to collect and store all sorts of data such as phone number, address, bank account information, and government ID.

On July 10, the devs addressed the concerns in a post on Steam, saying that they “will only use your data lawfully and reasonably and in accordance with local legal compliance requirements, while practicing the data privacy principles such as data minimization, purpose limitation, and transparency.” Some players have already thanked Starry Studio for clarification, so perhaps the game’s user score will increase in the future.

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