Palworld and Helldivers 2 Prove That No One Wants $70 Games

What 2024's biggest hits imply for the rest of the industry.

                                                                             Story Highlights

  • The success of Helldivers 2 and Palworld proves the viability of cheaper, smaller-budget titles.
  • The comparatively low price of both games was a major factor behind their success.
  • Palworld and Helldivers 2 excel thanks to their focus on social elements.

2024 has already been home to numerous high-profile releases already. With titles such as the unfortunate Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League bombing both critically and commercially, and the industry still suffering from the aftereffects of 2023’s disappointments, we are faced with an interesting question: Is it time to retire the $70 game? 

Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.

Of course, the obvious answer to that is no, as a consumer why would you want to pay more? See, that’s because of a little promise that came with a price increase. The $70 game was presented to cope with the heavy development costs of creating a game. It came with the unspoken guarantee that when you would buy a $70 game, you would get a complete, polished package. 

Over the past year, that claim has lost more and more merit with each subsequent AAA release, with many insulting DLC practices still going on. A major example of this is Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth charging players an extra $15 just for the ability to play New Game+.

In the midst of this climate, we are also getting what is looking to be two of the most successful titles of 2024, Palworld and Helldivers 2. Both games, but especially the former seemingly took over the industry in the span of a few days. In only a handful of days after its launch, Palworld quickly shot up the ranks and became one of the most widely played games of all time, dethroning the likes of Valve’s own Counter-Strike 2 on the Steam charts. 

Despite being comparatively smaller titles, both games have garnered huge success from the community. While not necessarily generating similar numbers as Palworld, Helldivers 2 has already become the most-played PlayStation game on Steam meaning that it has generated bigger numbers than hits like God of War, Spider-Man, and Uncharted.

Let’s look at the factors behind why that is the case. Shall we? 

I’d Buy That For A Dollar

Yakuza Like a Dragon
Yakuza: Like a Dragon

A major factor that contributed to the success of both games was their accessible price point. Palworld was priced at $29.99 while Helldivers 2 costs just $39.99, making it a lot more accessible for a large number of players, especially when other co-op titles such as the aforementioned Suicide Squad costs $70 straight. 

I, of course, have to add that this does not mean that either of these games is in a similar level of scope and polish as say, last year’s Baldur’s Gate 3 or 2024’s Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth but it does hint towards the fact that the $70 price point was arguably a quick and cheap band-aid for a much bigger problem. It is something I have written about previously as well, multiple times actually. 

It was something Sony used to excel at, all the way from the PS1 to the PS4 generation. Alongside their bigger budget titles, Sony would always offer a helping of smaller, more niche titles that were always in a healthy middle ground between indie and AAA. Titles such as Flower, Journey, and Gravity Rush.

The $70 price point was arguably a quick and cheap band-aid for a much bigger problem.”

I think the success of Helldivers 2 in particular is a good reminder that the industry needs a healthy balance of small-scale and large-scale titles in order to thrive. With both Xbox and Sony pivoting towards multiplatform titles, it becomes more apparent that maybe shifting development solely towards bigger titles wasn’t necessarily the right decision. 

As I’ve said previously, with the cost and risk associated with the development of big-budget titles, AAA development is getting increasingly unsustainable. It’s high time we move towards unique smaller-scale games that are bold enough to take risks such as this year’s Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. 

Rock and Stone! 

Deep Rock Galactic
Deep Rock Galactic

Part of the reason why both of these games are so successful is their focus on community. Both games are titles where you can hop in and have fun with your friends for a few hours and drop out after a multi-hour session. It’s no surprise that people want games where they can hang out with their friends, and it’s a lot easier to recommend a game to your friends when it costs $30 rather than $70.

Palworld in particular scratched a very specific itch for many players. The ability to play legally distinct Pokemon with your friends, although “legally distinct” is probably a stretch, the game does borrow a lot of its identity from Pokemon. The fact that you could outright indulge in many of your deepest and darkest desires was also something many players latched onto pretty fiercely. 

It also highlights the lack of meaningful social experiences in the AAA and AA markets. Time and time again it has been proven that players love partaking in insane, hilarious shenanigans with friends. Last year’s breakout hit Lethal Company was an indie game made by one person and proceeded to be one of the biggest success stories of the year. 

It’s a lot easier to recommend a game to your friends when it costs $30 rather than $70.

I love co-op PvE titles, and I sincerely hope that the success of both of these games causes a surge of meaningful co-op experiences. It was particularly admirable seeing the CEO of Arrowhead Studios and the director of Helldivers 2 just utterly refuse to add a PvP mode in the game.

It speaks to the philosophy behind Helldivers 2 as a game that’s meant to be thoroughly enjoyed by a specific kind of player rather than a mainstream product made for everyone. I believe that level of confidence is what has led Helldivers 2 to be the success story that it has become. 


Helldivers 2
Helldivers 2

As much as people like to chant that this is the end of gaming as we know it and everything is awful and motivated by greed, that is simply not the case. Sure, publishers mostly just care about profits, big profits, but there are creatives behind that who are rebelling in order to deliver something that feels truly unique in the gaming landscape. 

Despite the criticisms you can arguably levy at either game, it’s an obviously good sign to see such a wide variety of games gaining mainstream success. Competition is good, and most importantly, it’s good that unique projects like Palworld and Helldivers 2 are successful in an industry where money speaks louder than the work itself. 

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Nameer Zia is a video game News Writer on eXputer obsessed with hunting down all the latest happenings in the industry. Nameer has been gaming for more than 15 years, during which he has spent more than 3,000 hours on Overwatch 1 & 2. As a literature student, his literary chops feed into his passion for games and writing, using eXputer as the medium to deliver the latest news in the industry. Websites such as GamingBolt and IGN have also credited his works.

Experience: 4+ Years || Previously Worked At: Tech4Gamers || Education: Bachelors in English Literature.

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