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Why Helldivers 2 Is Exclusive To PS5 And PC

A little under 10 years ago, there was a single PlayStation exclusive that Sony decided to simultaneously release on PC. That game was "Helldivers," and it helped set the tone for the world we're in now. Today, Sony releases more and more PS5 games on PC, with "Helldivers 2" landing on both platforms at the same time. The strategy, to put it mildly, is paying off. "Helldivers 2" is seeing the kind of immediate success that genuinely doesn't happen very often. Most games experience a big burst of sales on release, and then those numbers taper off almost immediately. In the first three weeks after "Helldivers 2" debuted, the game's base sales increased week after week. Sales didn't even slow down when Arrowhead Games Studio CEO Johan Pilestedt told people not to buy the game until the developer got the game's server issues under control.

Nailing down exactly why "Helldivers 2" has been so successful is nearly impossible. It could be Arrowhead's unique connection with its fans, as the company apologizes when necessary and crowdsources its approach to toxic player behavior. It could be that people were simply dying for a new PlayStation/PC crossplay option, or it could just be because "Helldivers 2" is a really fantastic game. The answer may be unknowable, but that's not going to stop Sony from trying to recreate this level of success with other exclusives.

Son'y future might be multi-platform

Since the release of "Helldivers" back in 2015, Sony has opened itself up to putting games on PC. Already we've got titles like "Marvel's Spider-Man," "God of War," and "The Last of Us," all of which were previously PlayStation exclusives but are now available on PC through Steam. Those games were obviously ported to PC well after their initial release, but "Helldivers 2" has proven that simultaneous multi-platform releases can be a success.

Sony has taken note, and it sounds like the company is seriously considering making the PC gaming space a priority. Speaking at a financial briefing in early 2024, Sony exec Hiroki Totoki explained how the company's approach is shifting. Where Sony once viewed exclusives as a way to boost enthusiasm for consoles, it now sees multi-platform releases as an opportunity to increase profit margins on exclusive titles. "If you have strong first-party content, not only with our console but also other platforms like computers, first-party can be grown with multi-platform," Totoki said. It remains to be seen whether that means a future in which every Sony game is available on PlayStation and PC day one, or simply that there will be more frequent (but still targeted) simultaneous multi-platform releases. 

Either way, it seems PlayStation's big goal in this simultaneous release is to grow its profits, which means the only multi-platform release it's interested in right now — at least with its original IP — is one that keeps it within the Sony Interactive Entertainment family.

Will Helldivers 2 come to Xbox?

Now that Sony is seeing the true potential of multi-platform releases, some gamers are wondering if the company will relax its grip on exclusives even further. There are already some games that allow cross-play between PlayStation and Xbox, so would it really make a huge difference if a game like "Helldivers 2" debuted on both consoles?

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has thoughts on this. In an interview with Stephen Totilo, Spencer said, "I'm not exactly sure who it helps in the industry by ["Helldivers 2"] not being on Xbox." He acknowledged that publishers, including Microsoft, have a long history of using games to support their own consoles. That attitude is clearly starting to shift, but gamers may be ready to give up console loyalty before publishers.

Or not. There's a fan-driven petition to get "Helldivers 2" onto Xbox, but if you dive down into the comments, you'll notice all the console fan warfare you've come to expect. Publishers are clearly exploring new release strategies, but completely tearing down the borders between consoles probably isn't going to happen just yet. Still, as long as multi-platform games like "Helldivers 2" keep performing well and pulling nearly half a million concurrent players on Steam, we may see this attitude shift over time. For now, we'll have to content ourselves with the fact that we're most likely going to see many more PS5 and PC exclusives in the near future — even if the company isn't quite ready to hand them to Xbox just yet.

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