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KitGuru Games: Corporate nonsense has put Helldivers 2 in jeopardy as the game has been removed from over 170 countries

It often takes gamers a lot of effort to “forgive” a studio after they botched a launch. CD Projekt Red, for example, had to spend another three years developing Cyberpunk 2077 before many were willing to give the game another chance. In the case of Helldivers 2, despite having some serious server issues at launch, the game turned out to be so good that many players simply waited, without leaving a trail of negative reviews. Now, a case of incredibly poor communication and an ill-conceived plan from the game’s publisher, Sony, has put Helldivers 2 in jeopardy, with the game being removed from over 170 countries.

We’ve seen some insane bag fumbles over the years, but this one might take the cake. This week it was announced that Helldivers 2 will soon force the linking of PSN accounts for the game on PC. Since launch, you’ve been able to link your PSN account to the game on PC. However, the ability to skip this step was also added to the game within half an hour of it first going live. Here’s where Arrowhead messed up: the studio didn’t make it clear that the skip option was temporary. Although the game’s main Steam Store page contains a warning stating that a PSN account is required to play, this warning is easily missed and without any form of pinned post on the Steam forums or the game’s official Discord , the idea that a PSN account would eventually be necessary may not even register with many players. Despite this, Arrowhead employees have stated that they knew this day was coming, so my question is: why wasn’t there more advance warning?

To make matters worse, Helldivers 2 has now been sold to thousands of players living in regions where PSN is not available. The PlayStation Network is only officially supported in approximately 70 countries. Not even every EU country can access the service, and bypassing the geo-restrictions to create an account is against Sony’s Terms of Service. This means that those who do create an account while living in an unsupported country risk not only a ban in Helldivers 2, but a ban for PSN as a whole. Such an outcome would leave you without access to future PlayStation titles on PC, such as Ghost of Tsushima, Sony’s first PC game to ship with the PlayStation overlay and support for features like trophies. To make matters worse, there are some countries, like Ukraine, where you can’t actually create a PSN account without first purchasing a PlayStation console.

Arrowhead was seemingly blindsided by the news that PSN isn’t as widely available. The game was sold without any form of region restriction on Steam, meaning many in unsupported countries have now plunked down money for the game. To combat this is Arrowhead is only now starting to restrict sales of the game, which means it cannot be purchased in specific countries. The changes started appearing this weekend, months after the game’s launch. This change means that people in unsupported countries may no longer be able to access the game from today, despite the fact that PSN account linking won’t be enforced for current players for the next few weeks.

To Arrowhead’s credit, the community managers have been quite transparent about their feelings toward this change. It’s a system imposed by Sony, with the aim of making it easier to ‘enforce player safety rules’ and ban troublemakers. Sony wants all its published games to use its tools and network, regardless of platform, to create a unified experience. That’s fine, Microsoft is doing the exact same thing with Xbox games on PC, with most first-party Xbox titles requiring a Microsoft account to be linked. The main difference here, however, is that Helldivers 2 has already been sold to thousands of players living in areas outside of PSN’s coverage, and the enforcement of the PSN account system wasn’t communicated well enough.

How is it that the game has been out for several months, celebrating major player milestones and achievements across the community, and we’re only now hearing about this incredibly important news? This is something that should have been spread far and wide when the game came out. Additionally, Sony should have communicated PSN’s regional restrictions to Arrowhead earlier so they could have limited sales to supported countries, rather than have the game’s availability blocked months after launch.

Of course, this all comes just a week after we found out that the PC has been the biggest growth driver for Helldivers 2, skyrocketing sales outside of the PlayStation platform. The most important factor here? The PC release allowed gamers in countries where console gaming is less common to join the community, expanding the game’s reach well beyond Sony’s typical market. Executives undoubtedly celebrated that fact, but now find themselves in a situation where they are slamming the door on the very players responsible for the game’s impressive growth.

As a result of all this, there has been a huge wave of backlash against Helldivers 2 on social media. The game’s Steam Store page was also flooded with nearly 180,000 negative reviews over the past two days, causing the game’s rating to drop from overwhelmingly positive to overwhelmingly negative. Additionally, thousands of players have also started requesting refunds for the game, some of which have been granted despite accounts recording high playtime figures. Since Arrowhead is a small studio and only known for this IP, they are clearly unhappy with this situation as well. Community managers have encouraged negative reviews through the game’s Discord servers, which is no doubt why the playerbase’s protests are only growing louder. As The Act Man put itthe Helldivers player base has been trained to coordinate on a massive scale to achieve in-game objectives, so it’s no wonder that the community as a whole has been able to unite to protest this. By this time tomorrow, the number of negative reviews of the game will undoubtedly have passed the 200,000 mark.

We can only hope that by the time Sony executives wake up Monday morning, there will be an emergency meeting to address this situation. Given the game’s global popularity, there’s little point in locking it down now and it will no doubt cost an eye-watering amount of money in refunds. Sony could always take the lessons learned here about regional availability and communications and apply them to one of its own IPs, rather than destroying the reputation of a beloved independent studio and their creative work. Yes, Arrowhead made some mistakes here too, because they knew this day was coming and didn’t communicate it effectively. However, the decision to enforce PSN accounts in the game appears to have come from Sony, leaving the studio’s hands tied in this situation. All Arrowhead can do now is hope that community pressure can help Sony stop this nonsense.

KitGuru says: What do you think of the recent announcement that Helldivers 2 will require a PSN account in the future? Do you live in a country where PSN is not available? If so, do you own Helldivers 2 on PC?

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