The Delisting Fiasco of Helldivers’ 2

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Helldivers’ 2 is a sequel to a much beloved cooperative, top-down multiplayer where players are tasked with defeated various of species who have come to capture Earth. Helldivers’ 2 was received with such high praise, critics were awe’d that a complete game was actually shipped amidst this sea of “ship now, fix everything by next year” trend we see with most if not all AAA titles.

The launch of Helldivers’ 2 was both on PC and PS5, where the PC players were told that signing into PSN accounts to play the game was optional but suddenly on May 6th players were told they had to make a PSN account otherwise they could not play the game they paid full price for. Now why is this such a big issue to begin with? Helldivers isn’t the first to ask us to make yet another account and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

The Problem with Account Linking

The main issue a vast majority of players on the PC side had was they just didn’t want to give their personal data to Sony. Especially knowing Sony has had a number of large scale data breaches in the past few years which is a valid argument to have. On top of which the ability to make a PSN account is only valid on 30 countries, meaning players spread across countries that didn’t have the ability would just not be able to play the game anymore and since the time to refund the game has passed for most buyers they would’ve been stuck with a game which they paid full price for but could not play.

The backlash and overall Fallout

On May 5th, Helldivers 2 was delisted from steam in 177 countries as these in question did not have PSN available and making an account where it did not match your region could get you banned with no chance of refunds as it is against Sony’s terms of service (ToS). The prompt response from the PC side was to review-bomb the game which was in part said by one of the community managers. The community managers in question named “Spitz” for the game said,

”It’s not like this is the first or even the fourteenth mainstream game to require a third-party account that takes 120 seconds out of your day to enter an email and password and then forget about it, change your Steam review and make your displeasure known on a platform where it matters ”.

He later apologized, citing he did not know the restrictions on the PSN accounts and was not implying players should break PSN ToS. He later strangely, implied that the negative reviews should remain as it “gives them (the players) more pool in the discussion with Sony”, knowing that he is employed by Sony. There are now unconfirmed reports that he has been fired by Sony.

On day 1 of the announcement it had received around 62,000 bad reviews and by day 3 it received 154,000 and then peaked to around 200,000 negative reviews out of a total of around 500,000 reviews making the game Overwhelmingly Negative on Steam. To say this was a complete 180 is an understatement, considering the game was universally loved up until the announcement.

By this point the CEO of ArrowHead games had responded acknowledging the review-bomb and had informed the players that he is trying to speak for all but he did not have the final say. He further said that the blame partly lies with him as it was his decision to disable PSN account linking at launch and did not do enough to make sure players knew about this requirement.

Lastly on May 7th, as Helldivers fans would say “Democracy prevailed” because Sony responded by saying the initial requirement to sign in to a PSN account would not be moving forward and they are “still learning what is best for PC players” and thus the reviews for the game had changed from to “Mixed”.

Democracy prevailed but at what cost

Overall, to say this was a blip would be an insult to the whole ordeal, Sony knowingly or unknowingly had removed access to one of their most successful multiplayers to date just because they wanted everyone playing to have a PSN account which is available on only 30 countries while Steam is available everywhere. A Lot of good faith was lost and now players new and old will be skeptical of Sony on any of their new releases on PC.

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