So, I finally decided to do a post on the obtuse claims people make about Reach's population blaming it on the game mechanics and the game in general. Mods feel free to move this to a more appropriate forum if you see it would fit that better. I thought it would be best put here because its about the Matchmaking Population.
First of all. Halo Reach's population exceeded and possibly still does exceed Halo 3's prime time of 100,000 in team slayer.
Halo 3's population was calculated daily. (I would like to note that Halo 3's system was changed at sometime (can't confirm when) it only calculated people in games)
Halo Reach's population is calculated in real time. Meaning its actually showing how many players are in that playlist right now.
Here is a nice little post I found on Bungie.net from Urk.
The numbers you're using are not comparable. Halo 3 is displaying its total player count over the last 24 hours. Halo: Reach is displaying how many players are online right now.
Halo: Reach has way more active players and the attrition rate is much, much lower than it was for Halo 3.
So, in summary: Reach is currently way more popular than Halo 3 is and remains more popular than Halo 3 was this many days after its release date.
Halo 3 counts players by games played, not by people sitting in the playlist. Again, Reach counts all players in the playlists
Quote from Archronos
Except that the number of players listed in a playlist only counts the people who are actively in a game, not people between games, or in other non-playlist modes. The delta between those two easily accounts for the difference.
I swear, you guys are obsessed with population counts. Reach is in a pretty steady state regarding player population, and nobody is padding the numbers. Indeed, Reach has a much more accurate population counter (thanks to the Active Roster) than Halo 3 does (which counts based on games processed, not in real time).
Yes, its true, Halo isn't the king of online gaming anymore. It does not have the most online players consistently.
Halo Reach sat in 4th place over the course of last year according to this page
that has multiple sources. I'd say thats still pretty dang good.
Now onto the second part of the post.
Halo never really had the competition it did before as it does now and the fact that Halo revolutionized the way gaming was brought online and through consoles. Both apart of the reason why it got as big as it did.
Halo CE revolutionized how FPS were on console gaming. No other game had quite been done as well as this game was and changed how developers viewed shooters on the console market.
Halo 2 pretty much launched online gaming through consoles with Xbox Live and being among the first games (first FPS if I'm not mistaken) on Xbox live.
Halo 3 really nothing special about it, it was just a continuation of the series and the first launched on the 360.
But after Halo 3 was launched is when the competition really starts to come in full force.
Call of Duty wasn't really that much of a multiplayer name until Modern Warfare was released. Gears of War also made its debut. Battlefield has always been a multiplayer game, but it wasn't until Bad Company was it brought into the competition of Halo. I believe those are most of the top titles that compete with Halo directly on the 360. What do they all have in common?
They were all released after Halo 3 (except Gears of War). So even if we did see a drop in Halo's general population, its because all of these powerhouse games were brought into the direct competition of Halo between 3 and Reach.
Next comes the cross platform games. Most of this is opinion
I don't believe these actually have that much of an impact on the populations other than the first few months of the games release.
Odds are people who own multiple platforms aren't your standard halo player that play the game day in day out for several month. This is more especially true the further and further you go back. People who own multiple systems like to play multiple games from a variety of genres. Odds are they may play Halo quite a bit when it first comes out and pick it up every now and again.EDIT/UPDATE:
The evolution of gaming and gamers in general has changed drastically. Especially in online gameplay. When XBL was first launched we had an extremely short list of online games and an even shorter list of multiplayer online games. Things continued to stay this way for quite sometime even up until Halo 3. Gaming has grown exponentially over the past decade and the leap from Halo 3 to Halo Reach is awfully big.
Title games - Major title games come much more in number from many different companies now a days. It didn't use to be like this during Halo 2 and 3. Especially multiplayer games. Thats why you had so many gamers on a single game at one time. There was no other competitive alternative unless you wanted to buy a PC. If you wanted good graphics well, you can just throw that idea out the door.
Anyways like I've already stated, Halo didn't have any real competition, thats why players kept coming back to it. It was played by almost everyone on your XBL friends list.
Gamers have also evolved, as more and more competition came out more people took notice and decided to expand their horizon beyond the usual games that they played. I've noticed over the past couple months that a lot of people who bought Skyrim had no previous experience with the series. Proof that gamers are expanding their horizons, trying title games, and not staying consistent with one game.
Of course there are still quite a few players that do stick with one game and continue playing as much as possible, but they are becoming fewer and fewer in number as the population grows.
Especially since the price of hardware for gaming has decreased dramatically since the current generations of hardware came out.