Mirage: Arcane Warfare has had a rough go of things. As of September 4th, Steam Spy estimated that just over 13,000 people owned the perfectly good magic brawler (opens in new tab). When I checked early last week, Steam Charts showed the 24-hour peak concurrent player count at seven. Just seven people.
To get players into their game—in part to give those who bought it someone to play with—developer Torn Banner took a drastic step. For 24-hours last week, they made Mirage: Arcane Warfare completely free (opens in new tab). If you added it to your Steam library, you could keep it.
According to Steam Spy's estimation (opens in new tab), over 1.2 million people now own Mirage on Steam. The data isn't perfectly accurate—Steam Spy doesn't get raw ownership numbers and relies on automatically gathering data from Steam profiles—but even if the number is off by 200,000 owners, a million more people own Mirage than did before the promotion.
The new all time peak concurrent player count for Mirage now sits at 43,152, according to Steam Charts (opens in new tab), meaning it would've been near the top of Steam's list of games by player count (opens in new tab), somewhere around where Path of Exile and Rocket League are now. The concurrents have settled down now, with Steam Charts currently reporting just under a thousand for the 24-hour peak.
A thousand is a lot better than seven. In an update posted today (opens in new tab), Torn Banner called the experiment a "huge success." The developer is currently working on issues caused by the influx of players, namely a problem with XP not being displayed correctly. Next up is another patch, which will add new modes.
After the free day, Mirage's price also dropped from $30 to $10. The question for Torn Banner now is whether or not they can keep the player count steady, and bring new players in at the new price—despite the huge number of Steam users who grabbed free copies.