Todd Howard says he's never seen anything like the '4-6x increase in daily players' the Fallout games got from the show: 'It's a really, really unique moment'

Fallout 4 next-gen update screenshot - nail gun
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

I'm told war never changes, but its popularity certainly fluctuates—and sometimes it spikes, if you can leverage the power of Walton Goggins. In an interview with Variety, Todd Howard said the Fallout games are enjoying a swell of player attention thanks to the Amazon TV series.

"Depending on the Fallout game, you're looking at a 4-6x increase in daily players," Howard said, "which is beyond anything I've ever seen in my 30 years of doing this."

According to Variety, daily player counts for the Fallout games have been skyrocketing to over 5 million players since the premiere of the Amazon series in April. Fallout 76, in particular, is seeing a sharp player increase as millions of fresh vault dweller faces emerge to walk the country roads. While Howard says it's "kind of been sneaky popular for a while," Variety says Fallout 76 now has more than 20 million players, up from 17 million in December.

Fallout's the latest sign that we're firmly in a new era for games adaptations, echoing the well-documented phenomenon of the Netflix bump. The Cyberpunk anime brought higher Cyberpunk 2077 player counts in 2022, Arcane caused an almost 50% increase in League of Legends players in 2021, and the Witcher show helped the Witcher 3 break 100,000 concurrent players on Steam—more than were playing at its release.

The joke used to be that film and TV adaptations of games were almost always going to be dreck. Now it feels just as likely that a videogame series will be so popular that it'll reach beyond existing fans and ignite new passion for the games. It only makes sense: If people get hooked on your fictional world, they're going to want to spend more time there once they run out of show to watch.

Still, it seems like the scale of Fallout's popularity surge was unexpected, even at Bethesda. "Having an event that brings that many people into games that you have and who have never played your games before, that's a big thing," Howard said. "It's a really, really unique moment."

If, like the folks who've been flooding my timelines since April, you're wondering which Fallout is worth picking back up in 2024, we've got plenty of suggestions. Our Chris Livingston named Fallout 4 as top contender for current-day fallout, but if you'd prefer an online post-apocalypse, we've got tips for how to have the most fun with Fallout 76. Fancy a mosey in the mojave? We've got a New Vegas new player's guide to get you up and running.

Lincoln Carpenter

Lincoln spent his formative years in World of Warcraft, and hopes to someday recover from the experience. Having earned a Creative Writing degree by convincing professors to accept his papers about Dwarf Fortress, he leverages that expertise in his most important work: judging a video game’s lore purely on the quality of its proper nouns. With writing at Waypoint and Fanbyte, Lincoln started freelancing for PC Gamer in Fall of 2021, and will take any excuse to insist that games are storytelling toolkits—whether we’re shaping those stories for ourselves, or sharing them with others. Or to gush about Monster Hunter.