Based on the same series of fantasy novels as the Netflix show, "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" and series debut "The Witcher" both achieved all-time high player counts in the wake of Season 1's December 2019 debut, aided by a PC gaming sale on Steam that runs until January 2, 2020.
The most recent action adventure in "The Witcher" video game franchise surged to an all-time high after a TV series of the same name debuted on Netflix on December 20, 2019.
Originally released in 2015, "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" was received as one of the most accomplished iterations of the role-playing action game, winning multiple awards for the base game as well as two large-scale expansions that followed.
Over the course of the four years since, some 20 million copies have been shipped across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch, per developer CD Projekt RED.
While simultaneous player counts typically peak at launch, trailing off thereafter, "The Witcher 3" has reversed that trend in dramatic fashion, according to data from PC gaming platform Steam and third-party tracker SteamDB.
Release week headcounts peaked at 92,266 in May 2015, fluctuating between 15,000 and 36,000 after its second expansion landed a year later.
However, player counts have once more rocketed beyond 90,000, touching 94,610 on December 29.
The high-water mark coincides with not only the release of Netflix's own adaptation of the Andrzej Sapkowski stories that the games were based upon, but Steam's end-of-year sale, which knocked "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" from $29 down to $11.99 and an all-inclusive Game of the Year edition from $49 to $14.99.
Those sorts of player counts have pushed "The Witcher 3" back inside the Steam Top 10 by current players.
It was also the second best-selling game on the service by revenue for the week ending December 29, beaten only by more recent and more expensive Wild West epic "Red Dead Redemption 2," ahead of "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order," "Halo: The Master Chief Collection" and others.
(On Xbox, "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" is available as part of the Xbox Game Pass and moved inside the console's top 30 most-played titles.)
The surge in interest for "The Witcher 3" was not replicated for 2011's "The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings" -- while player counts rose, they did not exceed launch numbers nor a four-year anniversary celebration in 2015.
However, "The Witcher: Enhanced Edition" did enjoy a similarly disproportionate uptick, surpassing May 2015 peaks of 8,000-plus to reach 12,531 players by December 29.
Unlike "The Witcher 2" and "The Witcher 3," the first game in the series was only ever released on Windows PC and, eventually, Mac OS X.
Though its age certainly shows by modern standards, a wealth of community-created visual overhauls and gameplay tweaks have helped bring it closer to modern expectations, and a sale price of $1.49 combined with low hardware requirements make it a low-risk introduction to the video game franchise.