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Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 Lacks Longevity on Live-Streaming Platforms

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice which was released back in August of 2017. The original was praised for its mind-bending, poetic storytelling and stunning presentation, all led by a female protagonist who breathed new life into the genre. Fans had tasted the beginnings of a bold new narrative-driven franchise. With Hellblade 2 debuting on the 21st of May, viewers turned out on live-streaming platforms to see if their dreams were realized.

Developer Ninja Theory (DmC: Devil May Cry, Heavenly Sword) delivered on this promise with a truly next-gen game, with gloriously vivid visuals and immersive binaural sound created using Unreal Engine 5. But graphical capability is not enough to keep viewers hooked on live-streaming platforms. It’s worth looking at the performance of Hellblade 2 to see how creators engaged with the new release.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 Impresses Audiences with its Next-Gen Presentation

Hellblade 2 had a promising start upon its first release. In the game’s debut week, it garnered 2.4M hours watched across all platforms with a peak viewership of 152K. Additionally, big names in streaming such as alanzoka and LIRIK showed up to try out the game, generating 99K and 94K hours watched, respectively. These numbers aren’t incredibly high, but they at least demonstrate a sustained interest in the Hellblade franchise even after seven years. For comparison to another narrative-driven, horror-themed game, Alan Wake 2 pulled in 2.2M hours watched in just a single day.

Fundamentally, however, Hellblade 2 is not well-suited to live streaming for a few key reasons. Firstly, the game has a short runtime of just 6 hours – hence why none of the top streamers for the game aired for more than 7 hours. Secondly, the actual gameplay is minimal and provides little for a viewer to latch on to, with some critics calling the game a “walking simulator”. Lastly, the story-heavy approach may work against the game as fans might not want to spoil themselves by watching someone else play.

For the remainder of the viewers who are happy to experience Hellblade 2’s story via someone else’s playthrough, this actually acts to the detriment of the game’s creators by diverting away potential players. When you can experience the presentation and story via a streamer, why purchase the game yourself? Publisher Xbox Game Studios no doubt realized this, which is why Hellblade 2 is free-to-play for Game Pass holders.

Unfortunately, games that almost exclusively focus on narrative such as What Remains of Edith Finch aren’t well-suited to live streaming despite being excellent experiences. In a world where AAA titles and massively-multiplayer IPs dominate, story-driven games require an extra gameplay element to thrive (such as The Last of Us or Alan Wake 2). Stream Hatchet will watch to see which narrative-driven game is the next to find success on live-streaming platforms.

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