New Helldivers 2 Requirement Could Wreck Goodwill with PC Fans

Not very democratic of you, PlayStation.

Arrowhead Game Studios

Nothing great lasts forever. That’s what some Helldivers 2 players are saying after Arrowhead Game Studios and Sony announced that 2024’s best-selling game will now require PC players to make a PlayStation Network account to continue playing.

In an update posted to Helldivers 2’s Steam page, the game's publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment announced that players who buy the game starting May 6 must create a PSN account to play. For existing divers, the PSN requirement will begin to see the mandatory login prompt May 30 and connect their Steam accounts to a PlayStation account by June 4.

Sony says that requiring a PSN account to play Helldivers 2 on Steam account was always the plan. Linking the two accounts was only made optional for a time because of a “technical issue” at launch, but that “grace period” will soon expire. They are now doubling back on the decision to protect its players from harm.

“Account linking plays a critical role in protecting our players and upholding the values of safety and security provided on PlayStation and PlayStation Studios games,” the company’s message reads. “This is our main way to protect players from griefing and abuse by enabling the banning of players that engage in that type of behavior. It also allows those players that have been banned the right to appeal.”

As expected, some players aren’t buying Sony’s reasoning, or are happy about the sudden change. The game has earned a surge of negative reviews on Steam from upset players.

“I bought this game on Steam with the intention of playing it on Steam,” one review reads. “I do not now nor will I ever have a PlayStation account.”

Helldivers 2 is the seventh most successful game published by PlayStation, due in large part to PC players.

Arrowhead Game Studios

“Yeah, I'm not linking my account to PSN,” another wrote, before listing off several hacks and security breaches the company’s been subject to in the last 13 years. The most severe of these came in 2011 when 77 million PSN accounts were compromised, and the online services were inaccessible across all PlayStation devices for over three weeks.

Arrowhead Studios and Sony didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. However, Arrowhead’s CEO asked players who take issue with the upcoming change to address their concerns with PlayStation Support on X (formerly Twitter).

“I guess it's warranted,” Arrowhead’s Johan Pilestedt tweeted in response to the negative reviews. “Sorry, everyone for how this all transpired. I hope we will make it up and regain the trust by providing a continued great game experience. I just want to make great games!”

Helldiver 2 has been a major success for PlayStation, becoming the publisher's seventh most best-selling game ever, according to Circana’s Matt Piscatella. A large part of this can be credited to launching the game on both PlayStation and PC with seamless crossplay, knocking down antiquated barriers that have long hindered game communities. Combined with Arrowhead’s excellent use of social media, player transparency, and game design, this sequel to an obscure PS3 game has created a ton of natural buzz and goodwill with fans across both platforms.

Retroactively mandating such a divisive requirement is about as tone-deaf as a company can be.

Arrowhead Game Studios

In reality, asking players to create a PlayStation account isn’t that big a lift. The entire process takes just minutes to complete. For many, it will probably be the last time they’ll have to endure the task before jumping in for most bug-destroying antics, business as usual.

However, asking PC players to retroactively accept this new requirement or lose access to a relatively new game they’ve already spent money on is about as tone-deaf as a company can be. Bad, curmudgeonly actors harassing developers and Sony personnel aside, the sudden decision is not a great look, especially after this portion of your audience helped shoot your game to the top of sales charts two months in a row.

Instead of simply learning all the right lessons from the decisive victory that has been the release of Helldivers 2, like the clear benefits of launching day and date on PC, Sony Interactive Entertainment threatens to muck up so much of the goodwill they and Arrowhead have built with fans at the height of the game’s triumph.

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