Update: With over 211 thousand negative Helldivers 2 Steam reviews in three days, developer Arrowhead seems to be grappling with Sony over its controversial PSN sign-in requirement

helldivers 2 democratic detonation
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)
Recent updates

In the time since this story was first published, Helldivers 2 sustained nearly 130 thousand more negative reviews from its disgruntled player base, bringing the total to over 211 thousand and the game's overall Steam reviews to "Mixed" status. If that wasn't enough, Sony removed the game from sale in over 177 countries on Steam, seemingly indicating that the company was preparing to discontinue support for Helldivers 2 in countries it does not extend PlayStation Network service to. All this finally came to a head when Sony backed down on its demand that Helldivers 2 players log into a PSN account.

The storm over Helldivers 2 introducing a PlayStation Network sign-in requirement doesn't show any signs of slowing down, with the game sitting at a little over 84,000 negative Steam reviews over the past two days at the time of writing. Developer Arrowhead Studios, however, doesn't seem particularly enthused about the requirement either.

In addition to Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt's apology for the rollout, Helldivers 2 community manager Spitz wrote to the game's Discord (shared to Reddit by user Navar 4477) that "discussions are ongoing" about the rollout of the PSN sign-in requirement, particularly in different regions. "The response from our dev teams has been pretty universally negative and we're looking for better options," Spitz added.

Spitz also revealed that the Steam announcement of PSN enforcement, as well as the official FAQ about it, came from Sony and not Arrowhead. The community manager assured players in regions not served by PSN that "it's not our intention to force people to break Sony ToS or just not play the game if they're in a restricted region." 

The mention of Sony terms of service ties back to that official FAQ shared to the Discord, which seemed to suggest affected players should sign up for PSN in a different country, a violation of Sony's terms of service.

"Players making their displeasure known through reviews, refunds etc. gives us more pull in the discussion with Sony," Spitz said. "It hurts to see the game's popularity suffer in ratings, but discussions are ongoing and we are on the side of players in this fight."

It seems that Arrowhead's primary concern in any back and forth with the publisher is over those players who cannot access PSN in their country, which makes perfect sense, but the PSN requirement writ large doesn't seem to be on particularly solid ground. The backlash against Helldivers 2 has been so brutal, with no sign of reversing, that Sony decisionmakers may be forced to recognize this as a mistake.

With over half of Helldivers 2's sales in the US being on PC, there's a clear incentive for Sony to get those players into its own PSN ecosystem, but the relevant decision makers at the company either don't understand the new market they're courting, or they calculated that a player backlash would be worth capturing all those new PSN users. Whatever their reasoning, it's quickly become a boondoggle that's tarnished one of the most astounding videogame success stories in recent years.

Similar to Tarkov's $250 mode, Fallout 4's bogus "next-gen" update, and Hearthstone's player-hostile engagement shenanigans, the PSN sign-in requirement is an unforced error, the kind that developers and players could have seen from a mile off, but financial and metrics-focused decision makers consistently blunder into. It would behoove Sony to reverse course quickly before Helldivers 2 suffers even more reputational damage.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.