Sony destroyed all the goodwill Helldivers 2 built over months in a weekend

  • A forced attempt to get players to link their Steam account to a PSN account went down very poorly for Arrowhead Game Studios and Sony.
  • After an influx of negative reviews, Sony has had to retract the decision to force players to create a PSN account for their PC game.
  • Unfortunately, the damage is done and Sony’s reputation is in the mud.

One of the darlings of the videogame industry in the last few months was Arrowhead Game Studios and its sequel to Helldivers, Helldivers 2. In an industry where microtransactions and multiple game versions are the norm, Helldivers 2 bucked that trend and just released a great game without needless bells and whistles.

Gamers responded well to the release and for a short moment, many pointed to Helldivers 2 as the gold standard for a live-service game.

Then the account linking came.

Last week, Sony announced that Helldivers 2 players on PC would be required to link their Steam and PlayStation Network account something that was originally part of the game before it was removed shortly after launch.

“Due to technical issues at the launch of HELLDIVERS™ 2, we allowed the linking requirements for Steam accounts to a PlayStation Network account to be temporarily optional. That grace period will now expire. See details below in this post. 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. This is our main way to protect players from griefing and abuse by enabling the banning of players that engage in that type of behaviour. It also allows those players that have been banned the right to appeal,” Sony Interactive wrote.

Except the list of countries where Steam and PSN are available don’t match up. By forcing this account linking, Sony was effectively blocking thousands of users from accessing the game they purchased and had been playing for months.

Unfortunately for Sony, this decision went down poorly and it now had millions of players it had been uniting for months, setting their sights on the company.

In just two days Helldivers 2’s Steam review score went from Overwhelmingly Positive to Overwhelmingly Negative as players voiced their anger at this situation. This created a rift in the player community as some believed that account linking was necessary or a none issue while others disagreed. Despite these differing opinions, the Helldivers 2 review score began tanking at the weekend.

Sony done messed up.

Aside from the fact that PSN isn’t available in as many countries as Steam is, some PC players want nothing to do with Sony given the multiple occasions the company has been breached.

Late on Sunday, Sony began removing Helldivers 2 from the digital shelves of Steam in countries where it no longer operated. This meant that players who owned the game could no longer access it.

Amid the outcry, Sony finally changed its tune early on Monday morning.

“Helldivers fans — we’ve heard your feedback on the Helldivers 2 account linking update. The May 6 update, which would have required Steam and PlayStation Network account linking for new players and for current players beginning May 30, will not be moving forward,” the official PlayStation account posted.

“We’re still learning what is best for PC players and your feedback has been invaluable. Thanks again for your continued support of Helldivers 2 and we’ll keep you updated on future plans,” the publisher added.

The playerbase has welcomed this news but Sony’s reputation has taken a mighty knock. The publisher is now seen as greedy and malicious especially as it seemingly changed its support page to state that a PSN account was mandatory instead of optional as this chaos unfolded.

Unfortunately, despite having little influence on this matter, Arrowhead Game Studios’ reputation is now also mud and its had to spend the weekend doing damage control while a Sony bigwig sips drinks poolside like the cartoon villains of yore.

We’d say “hopefully this sends a strong message to publishers” but given that this drama has unfolded just a week after Battlestate Games torpedoed Escape from Tarkov’s reputation, it’s starting to feel like maybe publishers and developers need to re-strategise and think of new ways to approach video game development that don’t involve greed and silly decisions made in pursuit of the impossible dream – endless growth.


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