Sony reverses unpopular Helldivers 2 decision after blistering player reaction

Stand down, Helldivers. Your battle is won. Late last week, Sony announced that Helldivers 2, one of the most popular multiplayer games of the year, would require Steam players to link their account to a PlayStation Network account. After a weekend of strong backlash, including review bombing the game on Steam, Sony reversed course earlier this morning and will no longer require PC players to link to a PSN account.

The strength of that player cannot be understated. Within hours of the initial announcement, Helldivers 2 received over 14,000 negative reviews on Steam. This number ballooned to over 200,000 negative reviews in the two days after, enough to reverse the game's “overwhelmingly positive” rating to “overwhelmingly negative.” Though review bombing is typically seen as an extreme action players can take, it was apparently encouraged by one of Helldivers 2's community managers.

“I want people to make their displeasure known in a place where it might actually make a difference,” Spitz, a Helldivers 2 community manager, wrote in the game's Discord server. “Steam reviews and refund requests will do that.”

But players weren't content to just go after Helldivers 2. Arrowhead Game Studios CEO Johan Pilestedt expressed dismay that players were also targeting the original Helldivers. “It deeply saddens me that @HelldiversGame is also being review bombed due to the recent @helldivers2 controversy,” he wrote on X.

The review bombing created a knock-on effect for the game's presence on Steam. As the news caught on, players and others pointed out that the PlayStation Network was not available in certain countries, meaning that the requirement would cause players in those countries to lose access to a game they paid for. Steam tracker site Steamdb reported that the game had been delisted in 177 countries where PSN was not available, and there were reports from players that Steam was issuing refunds to players beyond the typical refund window. Then, early Monday morning, Sony announced that it would rescind the PSN linking requirement.

On social media, players questioned how this all happened. Though the PSN account linking was always planned for the game and indicated on its Steam page, Pilestedt wrote that the unstable condition of the game's launch forced them to delay implementing the requirement. He also stated that there were apparently internal discussions with PlayStation that the requirement would anger fans.

“When servers exploded on launch, quick decisions had to be made, such as turning off linking,” Pilestedt wrote on X, “And now, finally, the requirement to reenable came from PS [PlayStation] (to help with moderation) – and we had to comply even though there were concerns there would be backlash.”

Now that the decision has been reversed, Pilestedt expressed appreciation for fans and thanked PlayStation for resolving the matter swiftly. The game has been restored in the countries where it was previously removed, and it seems like players are changing their negative reviews, with Helldivers 2 now sitting at a “mixed” rating as the number of positive reviews slowly ticks up. Pilestedt even poked fun at the whole event, sharing a graphic from a community member that turned the game's negative review Steam graph into a design for the capes players wear in-game.

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