Before the big “Foundation” update that surprise-launched this weekend, No Man’s Sky wasn’t in a great place. On Steam, the game’s concurrent player count hovered mostly between 200 and 500. It wasn’t even within spitting distance of Steam’s top 100 most-played games.

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What a difference a solid update (after months of silence, which drummed up frothing curiosity) makes. On Sunday, the game peaked at 8,090 concurrent players on Steam, and its peak for today is 7,702. It’s now right in the middle of the pack on Steam’s top 100, something many people figured would never happen again after the dick monster and Spore comparisons generator’s hype-deflating launch.

That’s quite a bump, but No Man’s Sky managed an average of 36,976 concurrent players throughout its launch month of August. During its first few days, it regularly broke 200,000. So a lot of people are back, but it hasn’t even come close to its exceedingly short-lived Glory Days. Granted, this isn’t a multiplayer game, so it’s not like people’s enjoyment of it is dependent on other players being present. I do, however, think this is a decent metric to gauge actual interest in these updates, as opposed to the sort that dissipates after people read a blog post. What happens after thousands of people feel burned by a game, and then, months later, the game starts moving in a direction that’s more akin to what they hoped for? How many people return? How many people stay? Can a game like this make an improbable comeback?

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I still have some reserves about No Man’s Sky transforming into yet another crack at “The Ultimate Video Game,” but if this first update is anything to go by, it seems like Hello Games has some smart improvements in store. It’ll be interesting to see if players stick around for whatever comes next.

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