Amazon planned to make its grand entrance into the competitive gaming scene with third-person shooter Crucible in May. While we enjoyed our time with the game, Crucible met with a mixed reception overall. As the player base continues to dwindle, developer Relentless Studios plans to refocus Crucible around the Heart of the Hives mode, removing two of the game's three modes in the near future.
A quick look at Steam Charts shows that Crucible's concurrent player count is only around 500 players, which is terrible for a big-budget multiplayer game that just came out. Changes needed to be made, so Crucible Franchise Leader Colin Johanson gave a glimpse into this more focused future for the game during a developer update on June 4.
Why focus on Heart of the Hives? From the game's reveal, Heart of the Hives has been touted as the flagship mode of Crucible. This mode has players fighting each other while building up their power by securing Harvesters and obtaining the hearts of giant hives that spawn across the game's map. It incorporates a lot of elements from MOBAs from games like League of Legends and is Crucible's most unique mode.
"We've noticed that the community has really rallied around Heart of the Hives in an amazing way," Johanson explains in the developer update video. "Moving forward, we're going to be focusing really heavily on Heart of the Hives as the core experience of Crucible." Because the "overwhelming majority of players" are attracted to this mode, it makes sense to double down on it as the player base starts to dwindle elsewhere.
"Focusing on one mode, in particular, allows us to focus on core game systems that are a little bit diluted across three game modes and improve them for just one mode in particular," he continued. "It means that we don't have to make comprising design decisions across three different modes. We can make one that is phenomenal."
Why is Alpha Hunters leaving first? This duos-focused battle royale mode allowed players to make allowances on the fly at the press of a button. Clearly, it has failed to impress and leave a mark on the battle royale scene.
"We are going to be retiring Alpha Hunters very soon," Johanson revealed. "We've seen that a very small percentage of people are playing the Alpha Hunters mode so we are going to be retiring that game mode very quickly." Simply put, Alpha Hunters failed to attract any real attention so the developers are cutting off the dead weight.
When will Harvester Command be phased out? Harvester Command, which sees teams of players fighting for control of Harvester machines scattered across the map, will be the next mode to go, though its removal won't be as immediate as Alpha Hunters.
"Down the road, when we feel that the onboarding process is better, we'll likely look at retiring Harvester Command as well," Johansen clarified.
While it's a bit more inspired than Alpha Hunters, its differences are great enough where it can't be worked on concurrently with Heart of the Hives. You've still got time to get some to play Harvester Command if it's your favorite mode like it was for Inverse, but expect it to be phased out as development tightens around Heart of the Hives.
The Inverse Analysis -- Crucible has clearly underperformed for Amazon, and the developers have to fix the game to attract more players, fast. Bringing a live service game back from a disappointing launch is a massive task, but to Amazon's credit, they're willing to do the work to salvage Crucible.
"I want to make it really clear: we aren't going anywhere," Johansen declared at the end of the development update. "We are fully supported in making Crucible the game that we see this spectacular vision for." Games like Lawbreakers and The Culling 2 that had disappointing launches were abandoned fairly quickly, but Amazon clearly has enough faith in Crucible and resources to try and bring it back from a rough start.
It remains to be seen if this bold strategy will work or if the player base will continue to fall, but Crucible is definitely a live service game to keep an eye on as it could have a great comeback story.
Crucible is available now for PC.