Want to see a magic trick? All you need is an open-world video game that flopped at launch and a popular subscription service with millions of gamers. And presto, you can bring a “dead” game like Saints Row (2022) back to life and make it one of the most played games on PlayStation.
Personally, I enjoyed the Saints Row reboot. However, I understand that I’m in the minority of players who felt that way, and most folks, including critics and longtime fans, found the 2022 open-world crime sim to be an empty shell devoid of the personality and charm found in the previous, much-beloved entries. The game, which launched with numerous bugs and issues, reportedly missed internal sales goals. Volition, the studio behind the seriest, was shut down earlier this year following the game’s release and some bad financial news from its parent company, Embracer. And yet, according to new data, Saints Row (2022) was the fourth most-played game on PlayStation in September thanks to a PS Plus giveaway.
Over on Twitter (or X or whatever) Mat Piscatella, executive director at Circana (formerly NPD), shared the most played games on Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam in September. At the top of both consoles was, unsurprisingly, Fortnite. But the most interesting game to appear on the list is Saints Row on PlayStation, which leaped from the 93 most-played games on PSN to the top five.
As pointed out by Piscatella, the reason for this huge leap in popularity is simple: It was included in September’s PS Plus free monthly games lineup. It should be noted that the other two games that were included in the PS Plus lineup last month—Generation Zero and Black Desert—are nowhere to be seen in Circana’s top 10 list. This seems to indicate that a lot of people were curious about Saints Row, but bad reviews likely kept them away. But when the game was made free to play, a whole bunch of players leaped at the chance to download and check out this latest entry in the popular series.
Now, how many of them finished the game or put any real time into it is unknown. But at the very least it seems that putting the game on PS Plus helped bring it back from the dead and potentially led to some DLC sales.
This is an example of how these subscription services can be used by publishers to revitalize older or less successful games with an audience of subscribers hungry for big AAA games, even the less-than-great ones. In completely, totally unrelated news, hey look over there, Gotham Knights was just added to Game Pass, recently.