Atlas appears to be listing dead in the water

Ain't no one sailing now.

Off the port bow, there’s something drifting in the water. Is it a shipwreck? Yes, in the sense that the ship is Atlas, the pirate game run by Grapeshot Games (i.e., Studio Wildcard) and it appears to be listing, taking on water, and generally drifting along without any remaining momentum. You may remember that we looked at the game’s general scale-down and continued slide in numbers in February, or our coverage of the game’s patch at the end of March. And what has happened since then?

In a word? Not a damn thing. Wait, that’s four words.

Following that last patch, the game has apparently gone completely incommunicado, with nary a post to be found on the game’s official social media since that April 1st update. (In an even more telling sign, the pinned Tweet on the linked account is from December.) Nor are the game’s official forums in a different state, with a dearth of official postings since the end of March and no clear statement about future updates, development schedules, or the like.

Players on the game’s subreddit are not universally upset, but the general attitude seems to be that the game is effectively in a finished state; the most optimistic views state that ARK: Survival Evolved had a major update recently, which likely resulted in developers being pulled off of Atlas to work on that title. However, others note the slow removal of features and key staff members as a sign that the game is as done as it’s going to get, and it’s only worth buying if you’re fine with the game being what it currently is.

Notably, even as the game has failed to ever match its promise of holding 40,000 people on the same server, the official Steam numbers have been trending resolutely downward since January. This is in stark contrast to many other online titles, which have benefited from the ongoing pandemic and players needing to connect and seen surges in player numbers during March, April, and May.

It’s certainly possible that the pandemic, the aforementioned expansion pack, and staff changes have made the Atlas developers unusually silent and development is still ongoing. But in light of the past half-year of development (or the lack thereof), it seems the most reasonable assumption is that this particular ship won’t be pulling into port any time soon.

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