Helldivers 2 CEO apologizes for Sony PSN requirement fiasco as Steam review bombing continues: "I hope we will make it up and regain the trust"

 Helldivers 2.
Helldivers 2.

What you need to know

  • Arrowhead Game Studios' popular co-op shooter Helldivers 2 is going through a review bombing uproar on Steam right now due to publisher Sony reintroducing a requirement that will soon force PC players to link their Steam account to a PlayStation Network one in order to continue playing.

  • Though the requirement was technically in place at launch, it was quickly withdrawn to ease the strain on Helldivers 2's servers. As a result, many players were not aware of its existence before they bought the game, and now feel blindsided that Sony is pushing it live again.

  • Ultimately, the big problem here is that only 69 countries in the world actually support PSN, so anyone who doesn't live in one of these regions may be locked out of playing Helldivers 2 once Sony's new policy goes into effect. Arrowhead is working with Sony to  figure out a solution for these players.

  • Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt has apologized "for how this all transpired," and says he hopes "we will make it up and regain the trust by providing a continued great game experience." Notably, though, the studio says the decision to bring the PSN requirement back was entirely Sony's.

In case you missed the news, Arrowhead Game Studios' beloved 2024 co-op shooter Helldivers 2 is in the midst of a review bombing uproar on Steam right now, with players responding angrily to PlayStation Network (PSN) account requirements that publisher Sony will soon reintroduce to the game. Though Helldivers 2 technically asked PC players to link their Steam account to a PSN one when it launched in early February, that requirement was quickly withdrawn for a "grace period" to ease the strain on its servers. And since the only indication of its existence was a small (albeit highlighted) line of text on the game's Steam page, many players ended up buying and playing it without ever being aware of the requirement.

This led to the messy situation we find ourselves in now, with Sony's newly announced plan to roll PSN link requirements back out in waves that start on May 6 and end on June 4 leaving tons of PC players feeling blindsided. Though the PlayStation maker says this is important to do "to protect players from griefing and abuse by enabling the banning of players that engage in that type of behavior," fans are largely unsatisfied with that explanation, especially since Sony didn't touch on what will happen to folks who don't live in one of the 69 countries where PSN is available (lying about where you reside can result in a ban, according to Sony's Terms of Service).

This has prompted Johan Pilestedt, CEO of Arrowhead, to come forward with several statements about the situation, including an apology for how this whole ordeal has been handled: "Ouch, right in the review score," he said, sharing a screenshot showing that Helldivers 2's recent review score has dropped to "Mixed" status. "Well, I guess it's warranted. 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!"

Helldivers 2
Helldivers 2

Earlier on Friday, Pilestedt also wrote a short post directing players to PlayStation's support article on using PSN accounts for PC games, which ironically made things more confusing; the article notes that signing into PSN on PC is optional, even though Sony's new Helldivers 2 policy says that it will be mandatory for the co-op shooter. In response to that inconsistency, it's been noted that Arrowhead is "discussing that question with our partners at PlayStation and trying to find a solution." It's also been confirmed that the studio is "looking into solutions on how to get around the country drop down menu if your country isn't listed," which hopefully means nobody will be region-locked out of accessing the game they've purchased once Sony's rule goes into effect.

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Additionally, Pilestedt expressed he wishes the developer had been more vocal about the requirement's existence and the intent to eventually bring it back: I understand that linking accounts and signing up for additional services may not be something that some users would like to do and that needs to be respected," he said. "While the Steam page has always shown the requirements on the game page, I wish we had been more clear with the long term intent to not disappoint any of the divers out there."

Something important to reiterate here is that while Arrowhead could have done more to call attention to the requirement, the decision to bring it back now was entirely Sony's. "It's because the decision is not ours. Nothing to with bad customer support. We don't know," said Thomas "Twinbeard" Petersson, one of Arrowhead's community managers, in reply to someone in the official Helldivers Discord server criticizing the developer's lack of a clear answer for region-locking concerns. "You can always ask Sony, but until the[y] offer us a more detailed response, we'll reply to the best of our ability with the limited info we have. Should there have been a FAQ? Yes." The original announcement post was also written entirely by the publisher.

Helldivers 2
Helldivers 2

Frankly, this entire situation sucks, and I feel for players worried that they won't be able to play Helldivers 2 anymore since they live in a region where PSN isn't supported. I also feel bad for the developers at Arrowhead right now, as they're currently unable to give fans clear answers and stuck watching the incredible game they've poured their hearts and souls into get raked over the coals on Steam for a decision they're not even responsible for.

If you ask me, some folks are being pretty melodramatic about the situation — there are claims that Sony is trying to sell player data or inflate PSN stats, and others are acting like making a PSN account isn't something you can do in seconds for free as long as it's available where you live — but overall, a good amount of the backlash is understandable, and Sony could have handled this much better. Hopefully, the publisher will share more concrete information before the PSN requirement starts getting pushed next week.

Helldivers 2 is available now for $39.99 on both PS5 and PC, and so far, it's one of the best PC games of the year. Notably, the game also supports cross-platform play between PS5 and PC.

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

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