'Helldivers 2' in review bombing uproar as Sony introduces new mandatory account requirements on PC players (UPDATED)

Helldivers 2 promotional screenshot
(Image credit: PlayStation PC LLC)

What you need to know

  • Sony has recently announced that Helldivers 2 will be getting an update where players must link their PlayStation Network accounts to their PC (Steam) accounts on May 6, and this will need to be completed by June 4.
  • Helldivers 2 originally was slated to require a PSN account, but Arrowhead claims they  temporarily removed the requirement due to server overload. 
  • Fans are not happy with this announcement as this change, given that it could lock out people from Helldivers 2 who hail from countries where Sony's PSN system is not available.

UPDATE (06/05/2024): Sony has announced they are removing Helldivers 2's requirement for linking PSN and Steam accounts after it had removed the game from Steam's store in 177 countries.

UPDATE (03/05/2024): The CEO of Arrowhead Game Studios, @Pilestedt has quickly responded to the criticism surrounding the mandatory account linking requirements. He states that they are looking for solutions to help people get around the country drop-down menu if their country isn't listed.

In addition, Pilestedt has stated Arrowhead Game Studios is working with Sony to see if linking PSN and Steam accounts can remain optional for players who live in countries where the PlayStation Network system is unavailable. 

Original article: Today on May 3, 2024, Sony and Arrowhead Game Studios, the developers of the popular co-op shooter, Helldivers 2, brought controversy on a game that, up until now, had earned itself almost non-stop good will. 

Starting on May 6, 2024, players will be required to link their Helldivers 2 Steam account to a PlayStation Network account by the end of June 4, 2024. Arrowhead and Sony say this is to improve "player safety features," although it hasn't exactly been well-received by the community thus far. 

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It's worth noting of course that Helldivers 2 originally was supposed to require PSN and Steam accounts to be linked together, but they claim it was temporarily optional due to technical difficulties. This is most likely due to the server capacity issues Helldivers 2 experienced when it first launched.

The reason why Arrowhead Game Studios and Sony are adding this requirement is because they state that it plays a vital role in protecting players from online abuse by toxic players and banning them. However, some commenters are a little more sceptical, suggesting Sony is more interested in getting access to Steam player data or credit card details and the like. 

Will democracy prevail?

While this announcement from Sony and Arrowhead Game Studios' official statements may sound as though it has noble intentions, it has been met with considerable backlash from the Helldivers 2 community. A Reddit post by a user named "EmbraceMonky" elaborated on why this mandatory requirement to link PSN and Steam accounts to play Helldivers is potentially an awful idea for some players, beyond the simple inconvenience of signing up for a free PlayStation Network account. 

Sony's PlayStation Network account system is not readily available worldwide as it's only in 69 out of (roughly) 190 independent countries across the globe. Huge locales don't have PSN accounts available to them, despite the game being available for purchase on Steam in those countries. 

To make PSN accounts in countries that don't support them, those players will need to use VPNs and pay in the currency of the supported region they choose, which may cost them more money than needed. In addition, they run the risk of being banned by Sony for providing "false credentials." Furthermore, even the best VPNs often charge a premium for exclusive IPs. Shared IPs are often more likely to get banned. 

This situation means that people who live in countries that support PSN accounts won't be able to link their Steam accounts in time, to avoid being locked out from playing one of the best PC games of 2024 without resorting to risky means that could get them banned entirely. 

As noted by analyst Daniel Ahmad above, it is unusual to add the PSN account requirement post-launch, even if it was rescinded initially due to server overload. Many players purchased the game assuming that it wasn't, and never would be a requirement, so this announcement comes as a bit of a blindside. 

As a result, the game's review score is doing a bit of helldiving of its own, being hammered with negative responses potentially from customers in regions who threaten to be locked out. Steam's refund policy does include a clause if gameplay systems fundamentally change post-launch, so it seems likely that, if players do end up getting locked out, they may be able to grab refunds. 

In any case, Sony and Arrowhead Game Studios have yet to officially respond to the fan backlash regarding these issues so stay tuned for further updates as we continue to monitor this story.

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

Join the Helldivers and battle alien monstrosities and robotic marauders in 4-player co-op mayhem to spread democracy and bring peace to the galaxy.

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

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

Alexander Cope

Alexander Cope is a gaming veteran of 30-plus years, primarily covering PC and Xbox games here on Windows Central. Gaming since the 8-bit era, Alexander's expertise revolves around gaming guides and news, with a particular focus on Japanese titles from the likes of Elden Ring to Final Fantasy. Alexander is always on deck to help our readers conquer the industry's most difficult games — when he can pry himself away from Monster Hunter that is! 

  • fjtorres5591
    Sony also gets to boost/boast about the number of active PSN accounts which will come in handy come next quarterly financials to prop up the stock price.
  • fdruid
    Sony being unable to not shoot themselves in the foot because of their greedy nature and being jerks, also this thing is gonna cost people their jobs. I personally hope Sony fails and dies away. This kind of decision seems to be a good firm step in that direction.
  • Midi_Amp
    I've been playing the game and connected my PSN account since the start but I stopped playing in solidarity with all those who will get their game unaccessible come 6th of june. The problem here is precedence, if we let sony backtrack and set whatever they want now, what will they be able to do later?

    Admittedly the game is so good, I'm even risking getting fired by playing the game in the office. So I only play the easy modes, so I can get in and out fast. But for the greater good, I stopped playing. Now to get my gaming addiction fix, I'll go for Rusty Retirement.