Monster-collecting survival game Palworld has amassed an astonishing 19 million players, and that extraordinary success isn’t coming cheap for its indie developer: Palworld’s projected February server costs are over 70 million yen, according to a post from Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe. That comes to over $475,000 USD.
“Wait, maybe we’ll go bankrupt from server fees?” joked Mizobe on X today (translated from Japanese).
I wouldn’t worry too much. Pocketpair says it’s sold about 12 million copies of Palworld on Steam and 7 million on Xbox. At $30 a piece, that puts Palworld’s gross revenue at $570 million so far.
Steam’s revenue cut drops from 30% to 20% after a certain threshold, but for the sake of argument, let’s just give Steam and Microsoft a flat 30% cut of that revenue. That still leaves $399 million before expenses. $6 million a year in server costs doesn’t look quite so untenable next to that number.
“Following the order to never let the service go down no matter what, we have prepared servers without regard to cost,” said Palworld server engineer Chujo Hiroto in an English response to Mizobe’s post. “We will continue to give our all to ensure that all players can enjoy to the fullest! $478,000…”
Palworld obviously isn’t going to keep selling 19 million copies a month, and unlike online games which justify their high upkeep and ongoing development costs with premium cosmetics and seasonal moneymakers like battle passes, Palworld contains no microtransactions at the moment.
Out of curiosity, I plugged Palworld’s Steam concurrency figures (it peaked at over 2 million last month) into a pricing calculator for Amazon’s game hosting service, and it was easy to come up with figures in excess of a million dollars per month depending on variables like the number of game sessions per instance. Big online games sure are expensive to operate.
I’m also a little astounded that Palworld and whoever it’s paying half-a-mil a month to have ridden out its surprise success so smoothly. I can scarcely imagine a small indie developer like Pocketpair—which has admitted its inexperience—keeping up with this kind of demand a decade or so ago. Even the biggest developers would’ve been overwhelmed. Diablo 3 and Error 37 was just back in 2012, and Diablo 3 sold fewer copies in its first year than Palworld sold in its first two weeks. How far we’ve come. Thanks, the cloud?
The number of people playing Palworld at the same time will surely settle into a lower number as the year progresses, reducing costs, although Pocketpair does plan to increase the four-player co-op server limit, which will have the opposite effect.
For now, if you want more pals in your Palworld world, you can host a Palworld dedicated server yourself—those support up to 32 players.