The free-to-play "Portal meets Halo" FPS Splitgate has been around on PC for a couple of years now, during which time it's struggled to maintain a player base. According to Steam Charts, a reasonably strong launch in May 2019 quickly tailed off to an average monthly concurrent player count of just over 100. Things started to pick up a bit in late 2020, but over the past week the player count has exploded, to the point that it can be very difficult to matchmake into a game.
The reason is the upcoming console launch, set for July 27, and more specifically the open beta that's going on right now. The beta launched on July 13 with full crossplay between PC, Xbox, and PlayStation, and was a runaway success—to the point that developer 1047 Games first extended the beta, and then yesterday took it offline completely because the servers were being crushed by demand.
We have decided to take the beta offline for tonight. It’s been a rough day trying to handle this scale and it’s not fair to you.Everyone who played the beta so far will get 5 drops as a token of our appreciation. Stay tuned for more updates and optimizations in the morning <3July 22, 2021
The beta test is back, but unfortunately the capacity issues haven't been resolved. "We spent all night optimizing more but after talking to AWS [Amazon Web Services], we learned our database (redis) can only handle 65,536 concurrent players (what we hit last night)," 1047 tweeted. "So no optimizations matter yet. We are working on a queue system to let 65k ppl in until we remove this limitation."
Naturally, a large chunk of this sudden uptick in demand is driven by console players, but Steam is seeing a major spike in action as well: Steam Charts says that at this moment, more than 8,400 people are playing the game, a huge jump in demand. And unfortunately, those server woes are impacting PC players along with everyone else: Both Morgan and I tried logging in this afternoon, about 30 minutes apart, and we got this:
1047 said it hoped to have a queue system implemented "shortly" to help better manage traffic, but it also has a pinned tweet that's pretty clearly aimed at managing expectations:
For those who don't know, we are a small dev team with a total of 4 engineers, and we've had over 500k downloads since the start of beta. We appreciate all the patience and support. We are truly blown away🙏July 19, 2021
The more long-term question is whether Splitgate can maintain these numbers after the full console launch on July 27. With luck it will, or at least something close to it: The much larger player base that comes with crossplay makes it immediately more attractive, and as Morgan pointed out when he looked at a trio of new maps earlier this months, it's actually pretty good: An "underrated arena FPS that's basically Halo if everyone carried around a portal gun," which is definitely not the worst idea for a videogame I've ever heard of.
Splitgate is free to play on Steam, and you can find out more at splitgate.com.