'Helldivers 2' Is Fine, Despite Big Drop Off In Players

Nothing to be worried about...yet.

A helldiver solider gives a thumbs up
Arrowhead Studios

Helldivers 2, one of 2024’s best sellers, has seen a steep dropoff in active players over the last few months. And while Arrowhead Studios and publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment should do everything possible to bring back more soldiers to the galactic fight for Democracy, I don’t believe things are as doom and gloom as some players think it is. At least not yet.

Helldivers 2’s drop off was first reported by Forbes, citing a website that tracks PC gaming. At its peak closer to the game’s February launch, the game had more than 458,000 people logging on, squashing bugs, and dismantling automatons. Some five months later, that number has dwindled to just over 45,000 players. The decline represents an admittedly monumental loss of over 90 percent of its players.

It's worth emphasizing (as Forbes did) that these numbers are only representative of players on PC. Launching the game on both PlayStation and PC players was crucial to the success Helldivers 2 found earlier this year, pushing it beyond the console ecosystem. But with those great upfront benefits come the inevitable drawbacks of such an open platform.

Helldivers 2 isn’t as popular as it was at launch, but that should be considered normal.

Arrowhead Studios

Unlike on console, where what’s released on the platform is limited to whatever PlayStation approves from its publishing and development partners, the open nature of game publishing on Steam means there’s more competition for players' time. For every surprise hit like Chained Together or the absurdly successful Banana-clicking simulator, Helldivers 2’s most loyal squads are likely to step away from the action for a bit to try the new hotness.

Promotions, like the annual Steam Summer Sale going on right now, periodically encourage players to pull themselves away from their go-to multiplayer game to try something new. It‘d be silly to think Helldivers 2 would have a fraction of the staying power of Counter-Strike or DOTA 2, or any game culturally significant enough to withstand the cyclical nature of players’ interests.

PlayStation should take some of the blame as Helldivers 2’s biggest blunder was the publisher’s own doing. Asking PC players to make PlayStation Network accounts to keep playing a game they bought strained the community’s patience with the console manufacturer. The debacle directly impacted the quality of updates and patches released at the time, Arrowhead leadership said.

Not every game can have the staying power of Counter Strike 2.


The developers needed to do something to make sure kerfuffles like this don’t happen in the future, and they have. They’ve been both refreshingly candid about wanting to make it up to players and doing better in the future. The recent appointment of a new non-developer CEO has helped matters, according to studio founder Johan Pilestedt.

As Arrowhead navigates what the future holds for Helldivers 2, they shouldn’t have to chase the same highs they reached at launch. Retaining 45,000 active players on PC and a comparable amount of players on console is still a substantial enough player base so long as these players are engaging and enjoying the weekly content. It’s not like Helldivers 2 is near the service game flop of something like a Suicide Squad. In comparison, Rocksteady’s service game has less than 460 players online as of this writing.

So what is the true test of Helldivers 2’s staying power that the industry should be looking for? That moment of truth arrives after the game releases its first major update.

Helldivers 2 is nowhere near service game life support.

Arrowhead Studios

Helldivers 2 has sustained popularity with meaningful but relatively small updates. New stratagems, enemy variants, and community goals to reach are a smart use of the assets Arrowhead has already made, keeping things just fresh enough to keep players satisfied in the early going.

But after five months, a substantial update is in order. The game has already teased a new faction, The Illuminate, entering the galactic conflict. Alongside new weapons, exceptionally cool abilities, and planets, this new update could be the shot in the arm Helldivers 2 needs.

Plenty of games exist and keep their respective developers afloat without keeping the same amount of players engaged year-round. PalWorld is the perfect example of that. The game reached an all-time peak of more than 2 million players when it launched in January. A steady decline followed, reaching an all-time low of less than 23,000 players in May.

PalWorld shot back up the SteamDB charts once lapsed players had a reason to come back.


But when PalWorld’s new Sakurajima update dropped last week, adding new monsters to catch, islands to explore, and base parts to build, players rushed back to the game for the first time in months.

Palworld’s player count shot up to 143,000 users at one time, more than six times what it was before the update. The game is currently the 12th most-played game on Steam, and that’s a few weeks removed from juggernauts like Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree and that pesky Banana game.

Helldivers 2 may have seen a considerable drop off since launch. But that dropoff is nothing to be worried about, at least for now. Expecting endless player engagement is as pointless as expecting endless growth for your company. Surely the developers at Arrowhead have leveled their expectations to account for the peaks and valleys of player interest. I’m also willing to bet Helldivers 2 will catch its second wind whenever they’re ready to release something huge for the community.

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