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The Flock launches Aug. 21, will disappear after 215,358,979 player deaths

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The studio behind The Flock, the multiplayer thriller video game that will eventually, purposely go offline one day, will release its game on Aug. 21 for $16.99 through Steam, the Humble Store and developer Vogelsap's own website.

Vogelsap also announced the PC game's launch population today: 215,358,979. That's the total number of in-game player deaths that The Flock will ever see. Once that number drops to zero, The Flock will disappear.

The Flock is built with a limited population in mind. When the game's playable creatures (also known as the Flock) become extinct, so will the game. It will be pulled from sale from online retailers and only those still playing the game will experience its finale.

Here's how the developer explains it in a FAQ about the game's limited number of player deaths.

The Flock is a multiplayer thriller in which you can scare your friends. Everybody starts as an agile monster from a species called the Flock, but the goal of the game is to grab and hold the Light Artifact which transforms you in the hunted Carrier. Only the Carrier can win the game, so you want to get a hold of that Light Artifact. The twist is, the Flock are not allowed to move in the light of the artifact or they will be burned to a crisp in mere seconds. If they choose not to move, they turn into a stone statue and are invulnerable to the light.

If you've payed attention, there's two things that can happen to the Flock. They either die (e.g. by moving through the light) or they transform into a whole different creature called the Carrier. In both scenarios there is eventually no more Flock. If this were the real world it would mean the Flock is a tragic race doomed to extinction. We want to convey that story into our multiplayer.

Vogelsap says there are only two ways the population of The Flock could increase: if the game eventually comes to consoles or if a player is found hacking or botting the game — those dishonestly lost lives would be restored.

Players who pre-order The Flock prior to its Aug. 21 release date will get a second key for the game. Vogelsap says any downloadable content that comes to the game will be free.

For more on The Flockread Polygon's interview with its creators.