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Sony makes a terrible mistake with ‘Helldivers 2’ – Update: Sony reverses course

Post updated 5/5/24. See update below.

Sony is making a blatant error of judgment when it comes to the biggest PlayStation 5 hit of the year.

Hell divers 2 has been a huge success on both PS5 and Steam, dropping not only huge player and sales numbers, but also a lot of player goodwill. The game is really fun with an innovative live service element and a great sense of humor. It’s no wonder people keep coming back to kill more bugs.

Sony is about to squander a lot of the goodwill the company has built up, and not just that Helldivers 2, but of all his efforts to bring PlayStation exclusives like Horizon zero dawn And The last of us, to PC.

The company recently announced that PC players will need to link their PlayStation Network accounts to their Steam accounts to continue playing the game. This, they claimed, occurred after an initial grace period during which account linking was not required, but that grace period is coming to an end.

It feels like a bait-and-switch, luring players under false pretenses. Yes, there is a notice telling you to link your accounts, but this was easily overlooked and because it wasn’t a requirement, many players never noticed or just assumed it was a bug or something that Sony didn’t wild.

There are several problems here:

  • First of all, this is annoying. Many PC players don’t have a PlayStation or PSN account and it’s just plain annoying to have to create one and then link it to your Steam account for one game. It is doubly annoying because this was not communicated properly from day one.
  • Secondly, this is a bit dark. Players may not have purchased the game or may have returned it if they had known this. Now Hell divers 2 is far, far outside the return window of most players.
  • Third, while Sony says this is done for security reasons, many gamers have pointed out that the PSN is not the most secure network in the world. Opening a new account always exposes people to new security risks.
  • Finally, many regions do not have PlayStation Network access, but do have access to Steam. These players are unsure how they will continue playing the game once a PSN account is required. It is also against Sony’s terms of use to create a PSN account in a region that is not your own.

As for Sony’s reasons, security is a lousy excuse. If they were really concerned about security, they could require some form of two-factor authentication (or 2FA). This doesn’t require a PlayStation account, but it would be something that gamers in any region can do without opening a brand new account of any kind. It would achieve safety goals without being too much of a hindrance to players.

But in principle, even 2FA should be optional or come with a cherry on top, incentivizing players to use it rather than preventing them from playing if they don’t (although I highly recommend it because your account much easier to hack without 2FA).

Obviously most Hell divers 2 players will grumble about it but then sign up for PSN. But some won’t be able to, and the community as a whole will have lost a lot of faith in Sony. Much of the goodwill that has been acquired Hell divers 2 will disappear after this, and that is no small thing.

Even the game’s developer, Arrowhead Games, has expressed dismay at the change, with a community manager suggesting that players should change their Steam reviews to negative in protest. It’s clear that Sony has seriously misjudged the situation and needs to reverse this completely ridiculous policy before they ruin a good thing. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Update

In a surprising twist to this story, Sony has changed course on the company’s decision to require PlayStation Network accounts for Steam players.

Since May 2, more than 260,000 negative reviews have dropped on Steam, causing All Reviews to be reset to “Mixed” and Recent Reviews to an embarrassing “Overwhelmingly Negative”. Tens of thousands of negative reviews a day have been coming in from angry PC players who either don’t want to create a PlayStation Network account, or simply can’t because they’re in one of 177 different regions where that simply isn’t possible. Steam has now stopped selling the game in these regions.

Steam has also taken steps to refund anyone who wants a refund for this issue, even if you played more than 2 hours and owned the game for more than 2 weeks, violating their normal return policy. At least Valve is doing well for gamers. Meanwhile, developer Arrowhead Games has urged players to express their dissatisfaction and leave negative reviews on Steam.

All these reactions have led to Sony deciding to reverse the controversial change. On Sunday evening, the company tweeted:

“Helldivers fans,” the tweet reads, “we heard your feedback on the Helldivers 2 account linking update. The May 6 update, which required linking Steam and PlayStation Network accounts for new players and for current players starting May 30, will not happen.

“We’re still learning what’s best for PC players and your feedback has been invaluable. Thank you again for your continued support of Helldivers 2 and we will keep you informed of future plans.”

This is a wise move by Sony. A rational response to this level of resistance. While many Sony fanboys tried to defend the company’s decision, claiming it was all about safety, Sony clearly took the wisest approach. If Sony wants a share of the PC market, it will have to handle future decisions like this more carefully. This is a step in the right direction. Kudos to Sony for changing course. Hopefully, gamers will change their reviews to positive as a gesture of good faith, and Sony will find a better solution, or optional incentives for PC players to link their PSN accounts.