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Bringing Helldivers 2 to Xbox eventually isn’t such a bad idea

Four soldiers walk in a Helldivers 2 trailer.
Sony Interactive Entertainment

It bugs Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer that Arrowhead Game Studios and Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Helldivers 2 is not on Xbox. In a recent interview with Game File, Spencer stated that he’s “not exactly sure who it helps in the industry by not being on Xbox,” even though he understands that “there’s a legacy in console gaming that we’re going to benefit by shipping games and not putting them on other places.”

That raises a good question: Should Helldivers 2 come to Xbox Series X/S? No plans for that are announced at this time. Although Spencer is likely saying Sony should do this because it would line up with Microsoft’s current strategy, I don’t think it would be such a bad idea once we’re a ways out from this console exclusive’s launch. At the very least, the wild success Helldivers 2 has seen on PC proves that PlayStation may benefit from eventually releasing more of its games on other platforms. The company already seems keenly aware of that, too.

Two soldiers in a Helldivers 2 trailer.
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Helldivers 2 launched on PS5 as a console exclusive on February 8. Over a week after its launch, it appears in second place, right between Fortnite and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, on the PlayStation Store’s “Top 10 games in your country” section on PS5. That’s an impressive feat for a Sony-published multiplayer game with relatively low prelaunch hype. But it is doing just as well, if not better, on PC.

According to data from SteamDB, the concurrent player count of Helldivers 2 has reached 255,189 players on Steam, an all-time high for a PlayStation PC release. It’s maintaining around 200,000 concurrent players on that platform alone as I’m writing this. That’s a ton of players that Helldivers 2 just wouldn’t have had it been locked as a console exclusive, and this cooperative multiplayer game is all the better for it. Crossplay support and a multiplatform release have even helped with the game’s matchmaking struggles, as I’ve been able to group up with PC players more consistently than with PS5 players.

Helldivers 2 is thriving as a multiplayer game, and part of that success is because it’s available on PC. This game being a hit on PC is something Sony can’t ignore going forward, and I think it’s cognizant of that. During a Q&A following the release of its third-quarter 2023 financial statement, Sony President Hiroki Totoki seemed bullish on embracing multiplatform releases, Video Games Chronicle reported.

“In the past, we wanted to popularize consoles, and a first-party title’s main purpose was to make the console popular,” Totoki said. “This is true, but there’s a synergy to it, so if you have strong first-party content – not only on our console but also other platforms, like computers – a first-party [game] can be grown with multiplatform, and that can help operating profit to improve, so that’s another one we want to proactively work on. I personally think there are opportunities out there for improvement of margin, so I would like to go aggressive on improving our margin performance.”

A Helldivers 2 player fires a laser canon.
Sony Interactive Entertainment.

We are seeing more multiplayer first-party PlayStation titles slated for PC from launch, like Fairgame$ and Concord. Bungie’s Marathon reboot is even confirmed for Xbox Series X. There’s a clear shift in strategy at companies like Sony and Microsoft now because they’re essentially noticing that they’re leaving money on the table by not making their games more readily available. Of course, there is a benefit to having a compelling console exclusive like Helldivers 2: it gives people a reason to buy a PS5. But years after its release, there will be plenty of other, newer console exclusives to take Helldivers 2’s place, and at that point, an Xbox release doesn’t sound like such a bad idea if it ensures live service support continues and keeps the player count high.

Helldivers 2 achieved a massive level of success without Xbox. In response to Spencer’s statement to Game File, its status as a hit is undoubtedly helping out Arrowhead Game Studios and Sony. But, as a multiplayer game still maintaining its live service years after release, does Helldivers 2 eventually coming to Xbox sound like a bad idea? To me, it doesn’t. The sweet spot for first- and second-party multiplatform releases ultimately lies somewhere between Totoki’s and Spencer’s sentiments.

I’m OK with Xbox and PlayStation occasionally having a surprise console-exclusive win, like Hi-Fi Rush or Helldivers 2. If it makes sense months or years later to bring those games to competing platforms or boost availability by having them on PC from the start, as a player, I’m fine reaping the benefits of multiplatform support, like bolstered player counts. PlayStation and Xbox still need exclusives to draw people to their respective platforms, but exclusivity shouldn’t matter much to players years after release, especially for multiplayer titles like Helldivers 2. PlayStation and Xbox are just brands — it’s the quality and health of the games and the people who make them that truly matter.

Helldivers 2 is available now for PC and PS5.

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Tomas Franzese
Gaming Staff Writer
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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