Stray is a third-person puzzle-solving adventure game set in a decaying cybercity, where you play as a cat and solve the mysteries of this city that droids and other strange creatures have inhabited. Stray is developed by BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive.
Since its release on July 19th 2022, Stray has built a larger than expected playerbase and received a flurry of overwhelmingly positive reactions. However, as every game does, a few things have caused negative feedback from players and have therefore impacted the game’s overall sentiment. This Player XP report will analyse comments and feedback from the Stray community to identify the topics that are driving positive and negative discussion around the game.
Stray Data Overview
We started collecting data for Stray on the 1st of June 2022, over a month before its release date. Player XP can collect data and monitor all stages of your game’s life cycle from pre-release to launch to post-release.
We have collected tens of thousands of interactions around Stray from our 5 data sources for the game. These are Steam, Reddit, Twitter, Metacritic, and Facebook. The overall sentiment for Stray is very positive with a score of +66. Player interactions from Steam will contribute a lot to this positive sentiment as the source has an average sentiment of +92 from more than 33’000 interactions.
As you can see from the chart above, the large majority of discussion around Stray has taken place on Steam, with Reddit and Twitter also providing a chunk of its total interactions. We can also identify that Facebook and Metacritic have very little amount of data.
Sentiment Over Time
Since we started collecting data in June, Stray has consistently had a positive sentiment in its community. However, there was an interesting drop in sentiment between the 19th of June and the 22nd of June. When we set the date range to this, we can look closer to see what may have caused this sudden drop in sentiment before Stray had even hit the shelves. Looking at the Talking Points table, “Release” is the most discussed topic. During this period, it has a neutral sentiment of +1.
If we then look at comments and posts in the Interaction Explorer, the discussion between players is around confusion about the release date of the game. Some players claimed to have seen from multiple sources, including Steam, that Stray’s release date was June 19th. However, the official release date was of course July 19th as shown in the game’s trailer. Players had wondered if multiple sources had gotten the date wrong or if its release was further delayed by a month. Sentiment dropped to a low of -55 on June 19th.
After increasing again, sentiment dropped below negative on the 26th and 29th of June, and on the 2nd of July. However, apart from these select dates, Stray’s overall sentiment has been on a steady rise since we started collecting data. As we can see from the graph below, Stray’s sentiment has been continuously more positive than the average sentiment of the entire industry.
Negative Categories of Discussion
When looking at the data for Stray, 3 categories have a negative sentiment:
- Game Stability (-30)
- Game Performance (-9)
- Account (-74)
Of these categories with a negative sentiment, “Account” stands out with very negative sentiment of -74. Looking at the Sentiment Drivers for this category, “Launch” is the most negative topic with a sentiment of -83. The main issue in this category being reported by players seems to be the optimisation of the game. Since the game’s launch, players on PC have reported issues with shader compilation stutter that is very obvious, especially in a shorter game such as Stray. This has been an issue for some previous PC games on the Unreal Engine and this issue may not be fixed until a later patch. This issue has meant that “Stutter”, “Patch”, and “Bluetwelve” are other topics in this category with very negative sentiment.
Game Stability and Game Performance are categories that contain interactions and comments related to how well the game runs. Issues related to game stability have been common for many players as this category has over 4’500 interactions. The negative sentiment in this category is again related to players on PC experiencing issues with the game such as receiving fatal errors when running the game on Windows 10 or 11. There are also multiple bugs and glitches in the game being reported by players which are negatively affecting the sentiment of these categories.
You can view data on our dashboard in each channel, and compare the data within the three channels. In the week of Stray’s release, the top categories discussed in the User Reviews channel were all overwhelmingly positive. This includes Story, Graphics, and Gameplay. The categories discussed in the Online Communities and Social channels also had a positive sentiment. However, in these channels, the “Game Stability” category again had negative sentiment and was the second most discussed category in online communities. This reiterates that issues with the game’s performance have affected many players despite Stray’s largely positive overall sentiment.
The User Review channel consists of over 30’000 interactions from Steam and Metacritic data sources, this channel has a very positive sentiment of +92. Using the Sentiment Drivers, we can identify that the game’s soundtrack and graphics are the driving factors behind the player’s positive reactions.
The Online Communities channel has over 37’000 interactions from Reddit and Steam Discussion Boards. This channel has a lower, but still positive sentiment of +26. Stray’s story and graphics were the topics driving the most positive sentiment in this channel, however, its sentiment has been impacted by players complaining about bugs and crashes in the game. This shows that the majority of players who have these issues may be playing the game on Steam and are discussing these issues on their discussion boards. This links to the pattern of some players on PC experiencing bugs.
The Social channel consists of interactions from our social media sources, such as Twitter and Facebook. There are a combined total of over 12’000 interactions from social media with a sentiment score of +81. Following the trend of most players, praises around the game on social media are around Stray’s gameplay, story and graphics.
These are the most positive and negative topics in Stray. This can give you a quick insight into what elements of Stray are causing positive and negative discussion within the community. As was highlighted earlier in this report, “Bugs”, “Pc” and “Steam” are the top three negative topics which correlate to the issues players have been experiencing specifically when playing Stray on PC.
The positive topics are referring to the gameplay and graphics of the game which have been popular elements of Stray for the majority of players, therefore, being discussed very positively in the community. The topic with the lowest sentiment still has a positive score which shows that despite frustration from players around bugs in the game, many players are still largely enjoying the game and there are an overwhelming number of positive discussions in the community.
Audio & Characters
Looking at the Most Discussed Categories for Stray, “Audio” (+88) and “Characters” (+85) are two categories that stick out with very positive sentiment. Player XP categories are used to group the types of discussion happening within communities so it is easier to see the sentiment and volume for a specific area of a game.
Looking at the Audio category, we can see that this focuses on the game’s soundtrack. There is no dialogue in the game so a lot of the ambience and atmosphere rely on the game’s soundtrack. According to players, it did not disappoint. The topic “Soundtrack” has a sentiment score of +98 and a sentiment impact of +5. This shows how positively this was received by players and the impact it has had on Stray’s overall success. According to reviews from players, the soundtrack creates an immersive atmosphere and complements the story “brilliantly”.
Now onto the Characters category, players have once again praised how important to the story the characters are and the connection players can build with them. The character-building and storytelling as the game progresses provide a “wonderful” experience to the players and immerses them into the story. Not forgetting of course that the main character of Stray is a cat and you have a drone companion known as B-12. You also meet many other droids in the city along the way. Character development is something that is not hugely focused on in other games so players were happy to see this opportunity to bond with the characters as a big part of the story.
The Top 3 Most Discussed Categories (# of interactions) in Stray all have a very positive sentiment. These are Story (+87), Gameplay (+56), and Graphics (+89). In the Talking Points table, the topic “Story” also has very high sentiment and over 7’500 interactions, only behind “Cat”. It has a sentiment score of +89 and a sentiment impact of +14.
This shows that the story is a very positive subject in Stray and is being discussed frequently by many players. Since Stray’s release, 75% of interactions in the “Story” category have been positive. “Cat” is also a very positively discussed term because players simply enjoy the unique experience of playing as a cat in a game. This has attracted new audiences that may not usually play games but have shown a strong interest in Stray due to the game plot.
Looking at the Player XP Sentiment Drivers, the most positive topics in the “Story” category are:
- Fantastic (+98)
- Highly (+97)
- Beautiful (+95)
- Incredible (+95)
- Unique (+95)
These are keywords that many players have used to describe the story in a positive reflection in reviews and comments online. “Fantastic” and “Beautiful” also appear as positive topics in the “Graphics” category which indicates that Stray’s graphics are often discussed with the story and is a factor in the positive discussion around the story. We can use the Interaction Explorer to see player reviews and the majority of players highly praise the story and visual beauty of the game.
Overall, the story has been received extremely well by players as it gives an original and unique feel to the game and the direction of the story is continuously interesting and compelling. Players feel the freedom to complete the story at their own pace and take their path throughout the game. Stray keeps a healthy balance of being relaxing and adventurous with elements of exploration, puzzles and light combat. Players enjoy the world-building and the immersive atmosphere that the story creates.
While the story is undoubtedly a favourite amongst the playerbase, the ending of the game has caused a large split of opinions within the Stray community. Stray is a shorter than usual game in play length, players usually average 5-6 hours for completion, if they do not rush through. To most players, this was not much of a problem as the story was still told very well within this time. However, some players were particularly not happy with how the game ended and are calling for a Stray DLC or sequel.
Few in the playerbase have said that the ending of the game was not explained enough and there were too many unanswered questions to end the game how it was. However, many other players contradicted and said they liked how the story finished, without a complete conclusion to the tale. There are still some unanswered questions which allows players to imagine what could’ve happened after the game finishes. Some believe this choice of ending is because a DLC or sequel is planned.
We can use the Player XP Topic Finder to search for topics and see reviews and comments. By searching “ending” in the Topic Finder, we can see that this topic has a sentiment score of +70 from over 2’000 interactions. This indicates that despite the difference in opinion and some players not liking the ending, the discussion around the game is still very positive and players continue to praise the story. The same can be found with the topic “Short”, many players wanted a longer game or a DLC but the topic still has a very positive sentiment of +84 from over 3’000 interactions.
This report aimed to break down the positive and negative discussions happening around the recently released title “Stray”, and get a better understanding of why this game has been received so positively by its playerbase. We analysed the data from 5 online data sources to conclude how each channel has perceived Stray and what has made it so successful from day 1, apart from cats.
Player XP identified that the three driving factors towards Stray’s overwhelming positive support have been focused on the game’s story, gameplay, and graphics. The beautiful visuals of the game along with the unique “cat-like” gameplay has driven lots of very positive feedback from players. A lot of praise has gone to the developer for their character building, excellently keeping the game engaging, and creating an immersive atmosphere throughout. The story has been described as a “masterpiece” and demonstrated good storytelling all through the game. The story’s compelling and emotional direction resulted in waves of very positive discussions in the Stray community. This could also be seen from the frequently used topics in community discussions such as “beautiful”, “fantastic”, and “enjoyed”.
After examining the few areas of the game with negative sentiment, we found that some players have experienced multiple bugs and glitches in the game, and specifically PC players have had some fatal errors that mean they could not play the game. However, this was a small sample size and the majority of the Stray community has not experienced issues as major as this.
The ending of the game’s story also caused a split of opinion between many in the community, some being disappointed and wanting more clarity, and some who enjoyed the story’s emotional and somewhat inconclusive ending. This has also sparked a lot of discussion around a potential DLC for the current game or a sequel to Stray.
Since we started collecting data for Stray on June 1st, we found that despite the steady increase in sentiment for the game, sentiment dropped to its lowest before the game had even been released. This was around frustration from some players believing the game was to be released on June 19th rather than a month later. This caused a lot of negative discussion around the source of this news and a potential further delay of the game’s release.
Finally, these are important benchmarks of data that summarise the discussion around Stray:
- Overall sentiment +66
- Most Discussed Category – “Story” (9’128 interactions)
- Most Positive and Negative categories:
Graphics (+89) / Account (-74)
- Most positive topics in the “Story” category:
Fantastic (+98) / Highly (+96) / Beautiful (+95) / Incredible (+95) / Unique (+95)
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