The Helldivers 2 Drama Postmortem - Make Your Voice Heard

On May 2nd, 2024, Sony made a big mistake. It was a bull-headed decision that only a big corporation whose higher-ups are completely detached from reality can make. They tried to force every Helldivers 2 player, even those using Steam, to make a PSN account. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to play at all. And because PSN is absent from a large number of countries, Helldivers 2 was then delisted in those locations. All of this has sparked intense (and understandable) ire among the player base, which burned so strong that Sony has rescinded their decision. For now.

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the helldivers 2 drama postmortem make your voice heard
The Helldivers 2 Drama Postmortem – Make Your Voice Heard

How It All Began

The news hit the Helldivers 2 community like an orbital strike on May 2nd: starting a few days from then, everybody that purchases the game would have to have a PSN account linked to Steam in order to play. A few weeks after that, the same would be true for everyone that owns the game.

This is messed up for several reasons. First off, PSN is not available in about a hundred and twenty countries. Apparently, this was an audience Sony was perfectly fine with losing. But even in countries where the service does exist, people were beyond angry. Many people flat-out didn’t want a PSN account, especially if it’s compulsory. The most commonly cited reason is that Sony’s security is often spotty, which is absolutely true. But honestly, just not wanting it is reason enough.

The Why

Nobody is really certain why Sony decided to pull this trigger. They always said they would; Arrowhead told people early on that the PSN thing would not be mandatory until they got the servers up and running properly. I think people that did notice this message were hoping Sony wouldn’t be as silly to actually go through with it. You know, you have an incredibly popular new IP; that doesn’t happen often. Who would want to kneecap such a success? Well, a major corporation, of course.

Maybe they just really want your data to sell. That’d definitely be reason enough, if you’re only concerned about a weird bottom line. Or maybe Sony just wanted to flash a bunch of new PSN users to investors, regardless whether the accounts were paid or not. Perhaps they were hoping to convert at least some into paying customers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all three. Well, they had another thing coming.

The Fire Rises

The Helldivers 2 community was not about to take this lying down. They did the only thing they could – they started posting bad reviews en masse and demanding refunds, as is their consumer right. Capitalists always tell us to vote with our wallets, and so they did. What’s fascinating that they even had community manager Spitz on their side. Meanwhile, the CEO of Arrowhead was doing a good job communicating that this wasn’t up to them. As a result, the ire was laser-focused on Sony only without too much shrapnel going to the devs.

And how could one not feel sorry for Arrowhead? They worked their butts off to get a new IP of the ground, struck gold, and were then promptly hamstrung by their publishers. But what was done was done – the reviews were tanking at a rapid pace, dropping all the way to Overwhelmingly Negative in Recent Reviews on Steam. And just to add oil to the raging inferno, Helldivers 2 was delisted from all hundred and twenty something countries that don’t have PSN. And Steam where giving out refunds left, right and center, regardless of in-game time spent. The complaints were legitimate, after all.

The Levy Breaks

After a few days of taking a beating from their consumers, Sony relented. The official PlayStation account tweeted on May 6th: “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 Helldivers 2 community got a mission and completed it with flying colors. It didn’t have to be this way. Nobody wanted to review-bomb a game they actually love, much less refund it. But sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.

The Aftermath

Things are starting to go back to normal, but some of the damage still remains. For one, even though the players have been diligently editing their reviews to positive, the Recent Reviews on Steam are still on Mixed. And I would imagine that the community’s trust has been damaged for good. From now on, I expect them to be cagey about every single update. Which, you know, you should be as a consumer, but it can get exhausting. It’s no better for the developers, because now they have to walk on eggshells for the foreseeable future. Last, but certainly not least, we have the fallen hero – it seems that Spitz has been fired from their position as community manager. I understand why, but I wish Arrowhead kept the one person willing to stand on the side of the community.

What Have We Learned?

In my opinion, several things. For one, never trust a corporation to make a smart move. If they “threaten” to do something stupid in the future, never ever assume that they’ll step down from that decision. Two, your voice does matter. Making your displeasure known, especially en masse, can strong-arm the higher-ups to rescind their actions. Thirdly, hit them where it hurts – their pockets. Bad reviews are fine and dandy, but if you can in any way also threaten their profits, that’s when they really start paying attention.

And what have Sony learned? Probably nothing of note. They might even try this nonsense again in a few months or a year, when the dust settles down. So please, divers, do not let them get away with it. Ever. Put up the same fight if Sony ever comes at you again. You’ve fought a great victory, but the war against greedy capitalists never end. Good luck.

Author JoeTheBard profile picture
A language teacher and video game enthusiast turned rogue, Joe is on a quest to become the ultimate gaming journalist. This is somewhat hampered by his belief that the golden age of gaming ended with the PlayStation One, but he doesn't let that stop him. His favorite games include Soul Reaver and Undertale. Other interests are D'n'D, dad rock, complaining about movies, and being the self-appointed office funny man, which nobody else agrees with.