Back in 2019, Microsoft announced it would release many of its PC-compatible games on Steam as well as the Windows 10 Store. Since that announcement, the company has largely stuck true to this commitment; Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, and many other titles have all made it to the Steam storefront.
Unfortunately, Halo Wars 2, a real-time-strategy (RTS) spin-off based within the Halo universe, has not been so lucky. Despite Microsoft's focus on bringing games Windows 10 Store titles to Steam, Halo Wars 2 remains tethered to Microsoft's service. Here's why that needs to change.
Halo Wars 2 will grow on Steam
At this point, it isn't a secret that the vast majority of PC gamers prefer to play their games through Steam. It boasts a clean user interface, a fast and snappy client, and an extensive amount of community features — all things that the Windows 10 Store lacks. While it's true that the store has improved somewhat over time, the fact of the matter is that Microsoft hasn't really done that much to throw off the poor reputation it has within PC gaming circles. As a result of this, most PC players have generally avoided the store and will continue to do so. Halo Wars 2 simply won't grow if it's shackled to the Windows 10 Store.
If Halo Wars 2 was brought to Steam, the chances of it doing well are very high. The upgraded version of the first game, Halo Wars: Definitive Edition, was a top seller on Steam when it released in 2017. On top of this, Halo: The Master Chief Collection has consistently remained a top seller ever since 343 Industries started the process of porting the collection to PC. Microsoft's other games have performed well on Steam too. Clearly, Halo Wars 2's audience will grow significantly from a Steam release.
Microsoft can capitalize on a niche
RTS games have been declining in overall popularity on PC ever since shooters rose to their dominating position in the multiplayer market. However, just because RTS games aren't as popular as they used to be doesn't mean that an audience doesn't still exist for them. The opposite is true; plenty of RTS fans exist, and many of them are looking for high-quality games to play that aren't Starcraft II.
This is a niche that Microsoft can capitalize on with a Halo Wars 2 release on a well-liked, highly-respected service like Steam. Halo Wars 2, as a Microsoft first-party exclusive, sports a level of polish, gameplay diversity, and visual quality that RTS fans haven't been able to experience in a long time. How many of the RTS titles on Steam offer a fully fleshed out campaign with Blur Studio's cutscenes and top-notch visuals, a deep multiplayer that supports both competitive and casual play, and a mode like Terminus Firefight where players can test their mettle against cutthroat AI for hours on end?
It will build hype for Halo Infinite
Lastly, a Steam release of Halo Wars 2 will help build hype for Halo Infinite, the next mainline entry in the Halo franchise releasing in 2021 on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and both the Windows 10 Store and Steam. Halo Wars 2 acts as an origin story of sorts for the Banished faction, as in the campaign, you learn about where the Banished come from and what they're like as you battle against them. All signs currently point to the Banished being the main enemy in Halo Infinite as well, based on the title's official gameplay reveal.
This means that fans on Steam who are waiting to play Halo Infinite could play Halo Wars 2 in order to get a taste of what the Banished are like and what can be expected from them when Halo Infinite finally releases. And considering the Banished have been near-universally loved by Halo Wars 2 fans on Xbox One and the Windows 10 Store, it's likely that newcomers on Steam will feel the same way.
What do you think? Do you agree with me that Halo Wars 2 needs to come to Steam? Let me know.
Halo Wars 2 is available on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. The Complete Edition of the game that includes all the DLC content is normally $60, but right now, it's on sale on the Microsoft Store for $24.
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