Hellblade 2 falls way short of the original’s player count—and players think Game Pass is to blame

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is officially out, and despite receiving positive reviews from critics and players, it is failing to captivate an audience on Steam. The game is falling short of the original’s player count by a wide margin, which some speculate to be related to the Xbox Game Pass.

According to SteamDB, Hellblade 2 peaked at just below 4,000 concurrent players on its launch day on May 21. Those numbers have since dwindled significantly, with its 24-hour peak being less than 50 percent of it today. The original game, on the other hand, peaked at around 6,000 concurrent players seven years ago and its current concurrent player numbers are a few hundred away from what the sequel is seeing. The precise reason behind this is not all too evident, though signs point at the game’s day one Game Pass availability ripping through its Steam presence.

Senua's angry in Hellblade 2.
Hellblade 2 saw a massive marketing campaign spanning several years. Image via Ninja Theory

Dwindling hype may have also played a role in the game’s less-than-stellar launch. The first trailer was revealed at the Game Awards in 2019, and nearly five years of waiting likely damaged its momentum. Players discussing the release in a May 24 Reddit thread claim that Game Pass is the primary culprit at the end of the day, with the game’s high price and short story didn’t justify a full purchase compared to a $10 subscription. “This is arguably the most “Gamepassable” game ever put on the service,” one player said.

The original game was also not too popular, all things considered, and initially wasn’t even available on the Xbox—it was on the PlayStation instead. After Microsoft picked up its development studio, Ninja Theory, the sequel was switched to the Xbox and PC, which may have cost it its core audience on Sony’s platform.

Hellblade 2 is available now at $50 and has 87 percent positive reviews on Steam.

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