Helldivers 2 is the latest surprise hit in the gaming space since uh, well, Palworld a couple weeks ago, but it’s deeply impressive all the same. The PlayStation-published co-op shooter has done exceedingly well on Steam, releasing at the same time as the PS5 version, something that Sony has almost never done before.
Sony has indeed ventured further into PC over time, bringing their big games to the platform well after launch. But even with a “minor” franchise like Helldivers, the day-and-date launch has allowed its 155,000 concurrent peak to be more than double God of War’s 73,000 peak. And I bet it would go even higher today if it wasn’t Super Bowl Sunday. I mean, it still might.
This was clearly an experiment. Sony has been toying with more and more closely tied PC releases for a long while now, and this was a game they thought they could fully pull the trigger on. And guess what? It worked. And now I think this is going to reshape how Sony releases games going forward. There should be a split from here:
Big, traditional PlayStation exclusive single-player games will continue to release only on PS5 at launch. Then, some time later, those games will release on PC. The gap is going to shrink. God of War was about a 3.5 year difference, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t get down to two years or lower.
However, I cannot see Sony releasing any of its planned live service games exclusively on PlayStation, given what we’re seeing with Helldivers here. We already know this was not going to be true for something like Bungie’s Marathon, which despite Sony ownership, all Bungie games are promised to remain multiplatform.
But I also believe that this will end up applying to anything that’s a live service multiplayer title now. You need the playercount, first of all, to reach a critical mass of sustainability at the level you want to see for these games, I’d argue. And with live service, you are worried less about selling box copies as you are getting players into “the ecosystem” with battle pass and cosmetic purchases. It’s a long-term fishing game.
I think this will even happen with more closely-linked IPs to PlayStation, like the upcoming Horizon Zero Dawn live multiplayer game. And had The Last of Us Factions not been cancelled, it would have been wise to release that on Steam day and date as well.
It does not seem likely that Sony is ever going to pull the trigger fully on a Microsoft style day-and-date on PC for all exclusives philosophy, or put everything on PS Plus on day one. They’ve said they won’t, and the budget of these games probably wouldn’t support that. But Sony has been nervous about their reach being limited by PlayStation boxes alone, and I believe they will start relying more heavily on PC in ways like what we’re seeing from Helldivers 2 here, and they will also be a bit more flexible with their traditional games as well.
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