Helldivers 2 CEO says after success, the goal now is simple—'make this the best live game you've ever played'

 A helldiver, obscured by a halo of white light, stands victorious against a Super Earth flag in Helldivers 2.
A helldiver, obscured by a halo of white light, stands victorious against a Super Earth flag in Helldivers 2.

A huge part of Helldivers 2's appeal is the game's ongoing galactic war, a push-and-pull conflict between the players and the enemy factions that sees planets liberated, territory lost, and casualties on a multi-planetary scale. The conflict is guided and shaped by major orders, which identify targets and offer rewards, with yesterday's example being a minor classic: the Helldivers were given a week to squish 2 billion bugs, a number so unfathomable some wondered whether it were possible. They did it in 14 hours.

There are many more layers to how Helldivers 2 is unfolding the game's narrative and surprises, such as how mechs began 'leaking' in a coordinated fashion before appearing in the game for everyone. The developers themselves have in some cases become personalities: the biggest by far is game master Joel, who's become a community meme (if anything goes wrong, blame Joel), but almost as prominent is Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt, who regularly engages players with a winning combination of straightforward answers and Super Earth propaganda.

We're dealing with the former today, after Pilestedt popped up in response to TheGentlemanCEO (presumably no relation) posting a topic about the game's subreddit "riding [a] fine line between constructive input and whiny entitlement". OP goes on to list several ways in which they felt people were misunderstanding the nature of live service development, and Arrowhead's responsibilities to its partners (such as Sony).

"I appreciate your sentiment and post," wrote Pilestedt in response. "Let me add some context. Arrowhead is independently owned by people working at the studio and not swayed by shareholders in the traditional sense. Of course we are in a great partnership with Sony where we agree on targets to hit etc. But there isn't a forcing function or requirement per se."

Part of the inspiration for the original topic is an ongoing community argument about certain bugs that need fixing, and whether these should be prioritised by the studio over the current rapid pace of updates and additions to the game. "We want to deliver the best in the industry and we are calibrating our efforts of fixing vs new stuff," responds Pilestedt. "It's easy to say 'just fix, don't add', but the reality of the competitiveness in this industry is that we have to do both to stay relevant."

Pilestedt says Arrowhead is still "figuring it out, the demands and expectations on the studio are high, all eyes are on us, and we have a sole purpose—to make this the best live game you've ever played. We just need to find our stride and balance."

helldivers 2 balancing
helldivers 2 balancing

Feel free to salute that message in the name of liberty, citizen. Obviously it's way too early in Helldivers 2's lifecycle to make any kind of call on it as a live title, because the success of these things is measured in years if not decades. But what I can say with certainty is that it's unlike any other live service game I've played, and feels much more exciting and dynamic in how it's bouncing players around and creating a sense of collective accomplishment (and occasionally failure).

Pilestedt did later return to clarify a few points, saying his point about the demands on Arrowhead were not to be "defensive" but because "I know we can do better as a studio… the games industry is a complicated beast. We need to stay relevant and keep everyone entertained while fixing stuff.

"The expectations from our friends at PlayStation are pretty simple: 'make great game for players. We trust you.'"

There's a whole Super Earth of players out there who do too, and even making that gag shows another of Helldivers 2's ongoing appeals: how completely we've all bought-in to the satire, and enjoy framing the experience in those terms. Look at any discussion between Helldivers 2 players and you'll soon enough find the cause of liberty invoked, players theorising about the lore dismissed as "bot sympathisers", and unwarranted dissension marked as treasonous. Whether it becomes one of the best of all time or not, no-one can deny Helldivers 2 gets in your head.