Multiplayer physics-based brawler Party Animals has been launched globally to mixed reviews. Although it had a strong start on Steam in terms of metrics, it also drew a lot of criticism, especially from Chinese players.
How did Party Animals perform at launch?
Released on September 20, Party Animals is available on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. On Steam, the game has already peaked at 104,174 concurrent users (CCU), according to SteamDB.
Party Animals received generally positive reviews from critics, with an average Metascore of 77 for the PC version. Players, however, weren’t as generous, and the Recreate Games-developed title initially launched with a “Mostly Negative” rating on Steam.
It has since grown to “Mixed”, with 57% of user reviews being positive, but many still seem to be angry.
Interestingly, most of the negative comments come from Chinese players. According to Steam Scout, which breaks down Steam reviews by language, only 29% of the nearly 4,000 reviews written in Simplified Chinese are positive.
Players from other regions are much happier about Party Animals. For example, 86% of English-language reviews are positive. The game was also well received by Russian (90% positive reviews), Spanish (92%), and Korean (98%) players.
Why does Party Animal have so many negative Chinese reviews?
Many negative reviews cite the lack of new content, including maps, compared to the first public demos released three years ago.
Here is what one Chinese player wrote (via Google Translate): “I would like to ask is there any big difference between the actual content and three years ago? Does it take three years? Is this what you call a finely polished finished product?”
Plus, players from China are complaining about the price for Party Animal, saying that 98 yen (around 33% off the US base price of $19.99) is too expensive. It is hard to judge from the outside, but other titles in the similar category have/had lower prices in China:
- Fall Guys was initially sold for 58 yuan (compared to the US base price of $19.99) going free-to-play and moving from Steam to the Epic Games Store;
- Human Fall Flat costs the same 58 yuan (60% off the US price of $19.99);
- Pummel Party also costs 58 yuan (47% off the US price of $14.99).
Another major point of criticism is in-app purchases. Players can unlock new animals, outfits, and other stuff by leveling up the season pass and doing other in-game activities. However, there is also the Surprise Egg Machine, which is basically a gacha-like mini-game. While these rewards are cosmetic and don’t affect gameplay, a portion of players really don’t like the idea of purchasing a premium title with such additional monetization.
When looking at issues reported by users from all regions, Party Animals initially had trouble with servers, resulting in queues lasting over 10 minutes. Recreate Games quickly responded by expanding server capacity.
Last but not least, there was a mistake in the game’s description on Steam, initially reading, “Paw it out with your friends both online and offline.” This made many people think that Party Animals had an offline mode, when in fact even the local co-op mode required a constant internet connection.
The devs have since apologized for “any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused,” replacing the sentence with “Paw it out with your friends remotely, or huddle together for chaotic fun on the same screen.”
After these issues were addressed, the game’s user rating on Steam started increasing. It is interesting to see how much the score improves over time and what sales will be, considering Party Animals was the most wishlisted upcoming title on Steam prior to its launch (Hades II currently holds the throne). The hype was really there (and still is, to be honest, despite negative reviews), not to mention the title’s huge streamer appeal.
Who are Recreate Games?
- Recreate Games is a Shanghai-based studio established in 2016. Party Animals was initially developed by a “group of Android engineers [and] newly graduated students.” This is according to an interview with founder Luo Zixiong, former design director at Chinese phone manufacturer Smartisan.
- Although Recreate Games didn’t have enough experienced developers on its team back in 2016, it currently employs people who previously worked at companies like Electronic Arts, Tencent, and Baidu (via the official website).
- It is worth noting that the studio is owned by Chinese VR/AR company Source Technology (it also serves as the publisher of Party Animals). Plus, it received additional funding from Matrix Partners, Bertelsmann, and Zhen Fund.
- Recreate Games released the first public demos of Party Animals in 2020, attracting over 100k concurrent players on Steam. At the time, it was a record for a Chinese game on the platform, so it is no surprise that many local gamers have been monitoring the title ever since.
- However, production took longer than expected, with the developers finally announcing the release date during the latest Summer Game Fest — three years after presenting Party Animals to the public for the first time.