CEO of Helldivers 2 dev Arrowhead shuts down Sony PlayStation acquisition rumors: "This is the first I hear of this ... And that's a good indication that it's fake"

Helldivers 2 gameplay
(Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

What you need to know

  • Helldivers 2 is an explosively popular new third-person PvE co-op shooter from developer Arrowhead Game Studios. Published by PlayStation Studios on PS5 and PC on February 8, it's quickly become one of 2024's biggest games.
  • Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, a rumor began to spread that Sony had acquired Arrowhead for PlayStation, and that an announcement would be coming soon.
  • Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt has now addressed this rumor directly: "This is the first I hear of this... And that's a good indication that it's fake."
  • The rumor comes a week after Sony announced layoffs at PlayStation Studios that resulted in 900 jobs cut from developers like Naughty Dog, Insomniac Games, Guerrilla Games, and Firesprite. It also closed its PlayStation London Studio entirely.
  • Recent developer acquisitions by Sony include Firewalk Studios, Destiny 2 developer Bungie, and Firesprite.

Early on Tuesday afternoon, a rumor that Arrowhead Game Studios — the developer behind the wildly successful new co-op shooter Helldivers 2 — had recently been acquired by Sony for PlayStation Studios began to swirl on social media, with an announcement supposedly coming soon. The credibility of the leak was debated in the following hours, but in the midst of the discussion, Arrowhead's CEO and Helldivers 2's creative director Johan Pilestedt stepped in to offer answers and clear things up.

"This is fake... Unless I've missed something 🤔," he wrote in reply to someone asking him about the matter. Then, in another post: "This is the first I hear of this... And that's a good indication that it's fake." So, there you have it. According to the developer's CEO, Arrowhead is remaining independent. And given that Pilestedt is the studio's chief executive, I think it's safe to say there's not a secret merger deal going on without his knowledge.

Notably, Pilestedt's response to the rumor comes just a day after he reiterated that Arrowhead is an independent developer. "We are not owned. We are independently owned!" he explained when someone said the studio was "Sony-owned" while replying to a fan asking about the possibility of an Xbox port (it's not on Xbox right now, though Halo fans are building a version of it in Forge). "I mean... We are owned, but only by the founders (including me) of the studio."

A lone Helldivers retreating away from a horde of Terminid bugs. (Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

The (fake) tea was first spilled in a Twitter (X) post, though both it and the account that published it have since been deleted. It was then shared in a Reddit post on the r/GamingLeaksAndRumors subreddit as well as in a NeoGAF forum thread, resulting in the rumor's rapid spread.

Were the news of this alleged acquisition of Arrowhead by Sony true, it would come just a week after it announced layoffs at PlayStation Studios that resulted in 900 jobs being cut; this immediately made me think the report was false well before Pilestedt denied it himself. Affected developers included Naughty Dog, Insomniac Games, Guerrilla Games, and Firesprite, with Sony's PlayStation London Studio being shuttered completely. 

Sony's most recent acquisition of a game developer occurred in April 2023 with Firewalk Studios, which is scheduled to debut its first game — a sci-fi PvP shooter called Concord — on PS5 and PC this year. Before that in 2022, it acquired Destiny 2 developer Bungie for $3.6 billion as well as Haven Studios, which is currently working on a multiplayer third-person "competitive heist experience" shooter for PS5 and PC called Fairgames.

Machine guns are very effective for pest control. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Though it's been all-but-confirmed that there's nothing going on here, Helldivers 2's incredible performance since launching on February 8 had many convinced that the hearsay was true. It's sat comfortably at the top of Steam's Top Sellers chart since its release, became the 20th most-played Steam game of all time with a peak concurrent player count of 458,709, and is selling so well that it's caused an "inverse decay curve" — AKA, it's flying off digital shelves even faster than it did when it launched, which is incredibly rare for a game to do.

The explosive success led to some severe server capacity issues, but Arrowhead was recently able to patch the game up and has moved "to focus on improvements" and additions such as big armored mechs that are "coming soon after launch." Some players have somehow managed to access and use these mechs in missions already, along with other unreleased vehicles like a Halo Warthog-style buggy and an APC. Oh, and we know big balance changes are on the way, too, which will hopefully shake up the Breaker shotgun, Railgun, and Shield Generator Pack meta when they're pushed live.

Helldivers 2 is available now for $39.99 on both PS5 and PC, and so far, it's one of the best PC games of the year. Notably, the game also supports cross-platform play between PS5 and PC.

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

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Battle aliens, robots, and other beasts in humanity's quest to spread democracy through an unforgiving galaxy. It's 4-player co-op at its absolute best, and its most refined.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.