The Suicide Squad Kill The Justice League day one player peak on Steam is half that of fellow superhero live service game Marvel’s Avengers, after accounting for both games leaving early access. There are four seasons of content and big plans yet to come for Rocksteady’s first game since Batman Arkham Knight.
Both Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League and Marvel’s Avengers had 72-hour early access periods, but I’ll just be looking at the first-day stats for the full launch. Interestingly, Marvel’s Avengers only required one-time online access for the single-player portion of the superhero game, while Suicide Squad’s offline mode is waiting for a patch to let you do the same thing.
So I decided to compare the day one stats, and it’s illuminating. Marvel’s Avengers launched out of early access on Friday, September 4, 2020, with a peak player count of 29,916, which decreased to a steady average of 1,000 in about a month. In contrast, Suicide Squad launched out of early access on Friday, February 2, 2024, to a peak of 12,667 players. That’s less than half of the Avengers game’s day one peak, according to SteamDB.
Both games also had server issues and glitches during their early access launch, with Marvel’s Avengers struggling on PlayStation due to pre-order problems, and Suicide Squad going down after an hour of early access due to an auto-complete bug. Rocksteady did give out free Luthor Coins to Deluxe Edition players impacted by the shutdown, but they had already paid an extra $30 to then not be able to play the game.
With a roadmap set to begin in March 2024, Suicide Squad will survive on its post-launch plans, and how Rocksteady takes player feedback into account when adjusting the overall experience.
I’m not here to meaninglessly be mean to Suicide Squad, more to illustrate how the appetite for always-online forever playable live service games has massively disappeared in the four years since Marvel’s Avengers. Suicide Squad is also being weighed down by expectations of the Rocksteady Arkhamverse, even if it’s a very different game.
I’ve talked about Marvel’s Avengers a fair bit, and while I wasn’t a diehard defender of that game, I could see the promise in it and even enjoyed it a fair bit. The story was pretty fun, and each of the Avengers available at launch felt like a wildly different character with varying playstyles (Iron Man mains rise up). At least Crystal Dynamics had the sense to not give the Hulk an AK47.
Suicide Squad is on a very similar path with free seasonal story drops and new characters to play as, and I’m incredibly concerned it’ll see a similar fate to Marvel’s Avengers. If you forgot, you can no longer buy Marvel’s Avengers, all of the marketplace cosmetics (the lifeblood of income for the live service game) were given away for free, and regular updates have been stopped. You can still play Marvel’s Avengers alone or online as of right now if you already own it, but it’s a ghost town.
Perhaps Suicide Squad will fare better in the long term but, as was the case with the Avengers game, it was never what many players wanted to begin with. I don’t want to shoot Superman with a gun when I’m a giant shark-man, watching the technicolor numbers fly off him until he falls to the ground, only to then grind harder challenges for better weapons to grind even harder challenges for even better weapons.
If you hoped that continual live service missteps would see the videogame industry go back to the experiences it was built on, sadly you’d be very wrong. The carrot on a stick model is one many game companies still want to use, Suicide Squad publisher Warner Bros. especially.
CEO of global streaming and gaming JB Perrette said just last month that they want “more than just one great hit every three or four years,” and that WB wants its games “to be ‘always on.’ And the good news is the gaming space is lending itself to that,” (via Variety).
If you like live service looter shooters like Suicide Squad I’m genuinely happy for you. But if you don’t, they’re not going anywhere. Sorry.