Why did players pick Helldivers 2 over Suicide Squad?

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Helldivers 2 had a stellar launch compared to Suicide Squad: kill the justice league.

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Over the last two weeks, Helldivers 2 and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League launched. However, fans had dramatically different takes on these co-op shooters.

Arrowhead Games’ Helldivers 2 became the biggest PC launch ever for PlayStation. Over the weekend, the title peaked at over 155,000 concurrent players on Steam. This is more than double the all-time peak of Sony Santa Monica’s God of War on PC, which reached over 73,500 concurrent players. Notably, Helldivers 2 launched on PC and PlayStation 5 simultaneously, but God of War launched on consoles in 2018 and released on Steam four years later.

In contrast, Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was panned by players and critics. Commercially, the title is struggling too. The title peaked at 13,400 concurrent players shortly after launch, but failed to retain them. Currently, the number of people playing Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is similar to the number playing Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight which released in 2015.

Factors driving Helldivers 2 vs. Sucide Squad outcomes

Both Helldivers 2 and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice promised players a fast-paced co-op shooter experience with plenty of humor. So why did they have such different outcomes? Ultimately, it comes down to the differences in setting and monetization.

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Like recent movies, series and video game adaptations (see Square Enix’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel’s Avengers), Suicide Squad has the challenge of standing out against the glut of superhero content. Moreover, Suicide Squad’s monetization is turning fans off. The title fits Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s shifting focus to games-as-a-service, but the Suicide Squad’s microtransaction focus comes with stigma. Additionally, the need for infinitely replayable content clashes with Rocksteady’s expertise in handcrafted single-player, story-driven games.

In comparison, Helldivers 2 comes with less recognizable IP, but it makes up for it in other ways. The Starship Troopers inspired setting and humor distinguish it from its competitors. Additionally, Arrowhead designed Helldivers 2’s microtransactions to “NOT [be] a pay-to-win, FOMO-driven system.”

The contrasting launches of Helldivers 2 and Suicide Squad highlight the gamble of building a triple-A live service game. With so many games competing for players, standing out against the crowd is essential. IP can help, but unique gameplay and “fair” monetization makes a more impactful first impression.

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