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Gears 5 dethroned Fortnite on Xbox - but Steam player counts aren’t great

Gears 5 is... a hit? Not a hit?


Microsoft’s gaming division is starting to embrace our multi-platform present. All the company’s recent first-party titles have hit PC right alongside their console counterparts, and now that’s starting to extend to Steam releases, too. Gears 5 launched on Valve’s platform right alongside the versions on Xbox One and the Windows store, and, well… It’s doing okay, I guess.

Gears 5 peaked at 10,196 players on September 11, just after the standard edition unlocked for everyone, according to SteamDB (via VG247). That’s not catastrophic, but it’s well behind other major releases on Steam this year, like Devil May Cry V – which hit 88,894 players at launch – or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – which reached 125,315 players.

But while these numbers paint a poor picture for Gears 5 on Steam, that’s not the whole story. Gears 5 comes alongside a massive set of promotions for Xbox Game Pass, many of which brought the subscription service down to just a $1 to start – meaning early adopters could play Gears on launch day without going through Steam.

Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad calls Gears 5 “the first mega-hit” for Game Pass, and while Microsoft doesn’t provide precise player count tracking on its services, Gears 5 did overtake Fortnite on the list of Xbox’s “most played games.” That’s thoroughly unscientific measure of success, but come on. It beat Fortnite.

Other games that have debuted on Game Pass, like Sea of Thieves, have actually reported beating their traditional sales projections. So do people just not want to play Gears on Steam? Have players warmed to the idea of playing exclusively through subscriptions? Or were the recent Game Pass deals just too good to pass up?

It’s all a bit of a moot point for actual players, since Gears 5 features cross-play between every version of the game. But there are loads of interesting implications for how the game is sold in the future.