Sony Is Walking Back Helldivers 2’s Controversial Account Changes

This is Managed Democracy manifest.

Update 06/05 4:00PM: Adding to this, Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt has also shared the news, thanking PlayStation for reversing its decision and reiterating the studio’s desire to give its community of players the best possible live game experience.

Firstly, I am impressed by the willpower of the Helldivers 2 community and your ability to collaborate. Secondly I want to thank our partners and friends at PlayStation for quickly and effectively making the decision to leave PSN linking optional. We togheter [sic] want to set a new standard for what a live game is, and how developers and community can support each other to create the best game experiences.”

Update 06/05 2:00PM: Well, there you go. Sony has dropped the reveal that it’s cancelling the controversial changes to its account linking policy for Helldivers 2 after immense backlash. The decision to make PSN account linking mandatory for players, which would have led to users in over 170 countries unable to officially play the game thanks to a lack of PSN support, will not be moving forward.

It’s unclear if the game will be brought back to Steam in affected regions following this news, but we’ll keep an eye on it. Sony had this to say in its announcement:

“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. 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.”

Original Story:

Helldivers 2, a game that was seemingly untouchable in terms of audience goodwill, has come up against a huge amount of backlash and review bombing in recent days after a major change to the user account process on the PC version of the game has cause a ton of upset.

Late last week, developer Arrowhead Game Studios shared the update on Steam that, after being optional pretty much the entire life of the game to date thanks to an early technical issue, PlayStation Network account linking will now be mandatory to play the game on PC. The changes take effect now for new players, while existing players will have until June 4th to link their Steam and PlayStation Network accounts.

“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,” the studio said when it announced the change.

“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.

While that might seem to be an inconvenient but not earth-shattering change for most players, the trouble comes as the game has now been delisted in over 170 countries where it was previously available to purchase, and is now unable to be played, because PSN is not available in those regions. It’s not technically impossible for players in affected areas to create an account from another region, but Steam is reportedly already handing out no-questions-asked refunds to those who live in unsupported counties.

For their part, Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt has begun addressing the issue in a series of posts on X, taking accountability not for the most recent change but for not properly communicating the situation when the mandatory PSN requirement was initially removed.

Pilestedt writes in one post, “We are talking solutions with PlayStation, especially for non-PSN countries. Your voice has been heard, and I am doing everything I can to speak for the community – but I don’t have the final say.”

As at the time of writing, the game has been hit with over 200,000 negative recent user reviews on Steam since the changes took place, giving it an “Overwhelmingly Negative” recent review score and a “Mixed” lifetime score. It’s not hard to see why, with plenty of players who’ve poured dozens of hours or more into the game suddenly unable to play.

We’ll be keeping an eye on how this all unfolds and how Sony and Arrowhead are able to respond going forward.