Helldivers 2 director addresses "inexcusable behavior" from devs amid balance patch criticisms: "This is not a message that the studio stands behind"

Helldivers 2
(Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

What you need to know

  • Helldivers 2's long-awaited first balance patch came this week on Wednesday morning, but nerfs to popular weapons and a lack of buffs to compensate left many frustrated and disappointed. 
  • The situation quickly grew heated when a few members of the Helldivers development team made some comments that were perceived as inflammatory, such as one saying they were "feeding the rage a little for my own entertainment here." All the context can be found in the text below.
  • Arrowhead Game Studios' CEO Johan Pilestedt has addressed the situation, calling the comments "horrible" and examples of "inexcusable behavior."
  • Pilestedt notes that while he encourages Arrowhead developers to "engage with the community," folks at the studio are working to avoid situations like this one. He says that Arrowhead has "taken action internally to educate our developers."

The first Helldivers 2 balance patch went live on Wednesday morning, but the changes it's made haven't exactly proven to be popular with the community (more on that here). Criticisms of the update began to pour in shortly after it was pushed live, but what started as embers of frustration erupted into a roaring inferno after several members of Arrowhead's Helldivers team made multiple comments that were perceived as inflammatory.

A moderator on the official Helldivers Discord server said "Man watching u all cry, amuses me so much," while a developer on Reddit told a player they had a "skill issue" (then more or less doubled down on it), admitted they were "trolling," and also commented "I'm feeding the rage a little for my own entertainment here, just so you know." That went down about as well as you'd expect it to, which is to say: terribly.

The dev later apologized, noting they "went a little far with the trolling" and that they plan to avoid interacting with the community moving forward. "I figured I'd have a little fun with the players, but I realize being a dev I'm in an unfair position," they wrote. "Maybe this isn't going to mend anything with you, but at least I feel I should own up to it and apologize. I'm sorry."

Players largely dismissed this apology as inauthentic, however, and the situation grew so heated that Johan Pilestedt, Arrowhead's CEO and the creative director of Helldivers 2, stepped in to try and calm things down. "We are aware of this [being a bad look] and have taken action internally to educate our developers on how to represent the organization," he said on Reddit on Thursday morning. "This is not a message that the studio stands behind. We are always working to make as an enjoyable experience and community that we can. We are taking your feedback and improving based on it. Thank you, all love ❤️."

Nerfs to weapons like the Breaker without many buffs to compensate left many players frustrated. (Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

In a separate post, Pilestedt noted that while Arrowhead's developers are encouraged to "engage with the community," he's aware that that approach can lead to situations like this one, and has assured players that the studio is working to avoid further communication issues.

"Thank you for bringing this [the notion that devs are antagonizing players] up, this is not the intention from the studio perspective. But since I am a heavy subscriber of a communicative studio it means that I encourage developers to engage with the community. However this also exposes us to risks of miscommunication or heated arguments and it's something that we actively discuss internally at the studio to improve on," he explained. "While I understand that it reflects on the studio as a whole, it is not our intention that this should be the behavior from us. We want to ensure that you all have the best time possible in this game and in this community."

Pilestedt also said the comments on Discord and Reddit are "terrible" and "inexcusable behavior," and that they're "emotionally driven and the critiques of the balance patch were taken as a personal attack." He is "extremely disappointed with the behavior."

A Helldiver running away from a Charger bug. Hit the legs, patriot! (Image credit: Windows Central)

Some were taken aback by how quickly the CEO responded to the matter and by the fact he pretty much wholly took the community's side, though I think it'd be hard to argue the statements made were appropriate. Even if they were meant as nothing more than bits of quippy banter, tone isn't something that's easily conveyed through text.

Overall, things seem to have mostly simmered down now — some players are even cracking jokes comparing Arrowhead's effort to "educate our developers" to Helldivers 2 lore that suggests space marines who fail their objectives are sent to dystopian "freedom camps" — though if you ask me, it's silly that the blunder blew up this much in the first place. Yes, the comments were tactless, but game communities can also be melodramatic and quick to get hostile and assume the worst. Everyone should just go eat a Snickers and then head to Tien Kwan so we can get those new mechs soon.

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)

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

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.

Also at: Amazon (PS5, Physical) | Walmart (PS5, Physical)

Super Citizen Edition: Amazon (PC, Digital) | GMG (Steam, PC, Digital)

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.

  • fdruid
    Devs shouldn't engage with the playerbase directly. It's bound to get ugly sooner than later.
    Gamers are a demographic that basically you can't satisfy no matter what. At best, devs should let someone knowledgeable in communicating to handle the entitled, enraged masses.

    I'm not saying this to justify that devs' behaviour but working hard for your game and getting BS criticism online is very frustrating.