New PS Plus game scores the lowest debut player count of 2023 so far

Black Desert's PS Plus player count was the lowest debut of any PS Plus Essential game of 2023 so far, with September's games proving to be very polarizing.

New PS Plus game scores the lowest debut player count of 2023 so far
Lee Brady

Lee Brady


Black Desert trophies haven't had much of a pull with PS Plus subscribers — in fact, the Black Desert PS Plus player count came in 20% lower than the previous lowest-performing Essential game debut this year. The MMO was never quite in contention for our best online multiplayer games on PS4 and PS5 list, and between a strong month for new releases and a bigger game in this September 2023's line-up, it's not too surprising this one got so overlooked.

Black Desert snubbed as PS Plus subscribers flock to Saints Row

We've been tracking the active player count of every PS Plus game to launch in 2023 with our exclusive gameplay data from 3.2 million active PSN accounts (courtesy of our partnership with GameInsights), including Black Desert and the recent PS Plus Essential games for September 2023.
We've compared the first week of PS Plus player numbers for Black Desert (week ending Sunday, September 10, 2023) with every other PS Plus Essential debut this year, and one thing’s abundantly clear: Black Desert's player count falls 21.19% short of the next weakest PS Plus Essential debut this year. The second-weakest-performing PS Plus game of the year, in terms of total player count from our sample, was July 2023's Endling - Extinction is Forever.

There's a notable connection between the two worst performing PS Plus Essential games of 2023: they both launched alongside games that went on to become the second-biggest PS Plus game of the year. In Endling's case, that title was the now-third-biggest PS Plus game on the year: Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War. In Black Desert's case, that title was the ultra-successful debut of Saints Row's on PS Plus.

The worst-performing PS Plus Essential games of 2023 so far

  • #1Black Desert (September 2023)
  • #2Endling - Extinction is Forever (July 2023)
  • #3Axiom Verge 2 (January 2023)
  • #4Descenders (May 2023)
  • #5Dreams (August 2023)
It also doesn't help Black Desert's case that it launched alongside some of the biggest PS5 and PS4 games of 2023. In the same week Black Desert was released on PS Plus Essential, players were also finally able to get their hands on the full release of Baldur's Gate 3 on PS5. It's worth noting that NBA 2K24 also made a powerful debut that same week. Plus, for those with access to other devices, there was also the debut of Xbox exclusive Starfield to contend with.

However, at the end of the day, there's no avoiding the awkward reality that player interest plays the biggest factor here — after all, while it might have under-performed commercially, it seems like everyone from our sample opted to play Saints Row over Black Desert that very same week. MMOs have not historically performed well on PS Plus in general (Fallout 76 is the 8th lowest-performing PS Plus game of 2023), and I'm sure it didn't help that Black Desert is a four-year old PS4-only port of a nearly 10-year-old PC game.
That said, this has just been a ranking of the game's debut PS Plus player numbers from our sample — it'll be interesting to see if Black Desert has any long-tail success with players on the PlayStation Chart over the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, let us know: did you check out Black Desert on PS Plus this month? Shout out in the comments below.

Chart compiled using gameplay data from over 3.2 million active PlayStation accounts (not just TrueTrophies accounts). Chart information is copyright GameInsights. Regarding this data:
  • Popularity is measured by a game being booted up and played, not by the length of time played.
  • Our data is good for suggesting general trends — we represent this using percentages, not numbers.
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Astro Bot), one eye on the past (PS1, PS2, and PS3 games), and his secret third eye on junk he really likes (Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Sonic). A PlayStation fan for over 25 years, he loves replaying classic games via PS Plus.
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