‘Helldivers 2’ Community Bands Together to Ward Off Unwanted Update

Helldivers 2 soldiers celebrate planting flag
Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2 is a game about murdering aliens on foreign planets with your friends. As you mow down hordes of bugs and robots, you need to work together as a team, or you’ll end up losing the mission and failing Super Earth.

Judging from this weekend’s massive gaming controversy, in which hundreds of thousands of bad reviews and threats of refunds flooded the title, it feels like some of these Helldivers 2 players (and the content creators who stoke their aggression) may have taken that messaging a bit too much to heart. 

How Helldivers 2 Almost Lost the War

On the afternoon of May 3, in a now-deleted tweet, the game’s developer, Arrowhead Studios, announced that gamers on PC would soon have to link a PlayStation Network (PSN) account to keep playing.

The requirement had always been on the Helldivers 2 Steam page, but Arrowhead delayed the PSN implementation because of the title’s overwhelming success. According to Arrowhead Studio CEO Johan Pilestedt on X, he knew at least “6 months before launch” that publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment, which owns PlayStation, required the linking of accounts. 

The outcry was swift and massive, with gamers flooding social media with their distaste for this new change. While the memes flowed, accounts demanded refunds and threatened negative reviews. In just 72 hours, users left over 200,000 negative reviews on Steam. Video game analyst Daniel Ahmad tweeted he “had never seen anything like this before.” 

From the outside looking in, the rage makes little sense. It seems incredibly easy to make an account on Sony’s website and just link it. But if you understand the ecosystem, the reasons behind the backlash become clearer.

Jason Hall, known to his 1.7 million YouTube subscribers as streamer Pirate Software, was one of the first creators to point out that gamers in 177 countries around the world couldn’t make a PSN account without breaking Sony’s Terms of Service. Over the weekend, Steam even made Helldivers 2 unpurchasable in those territories.

Because of the backlash, on May 6, at midnight, PlayStation tweeted that it will not be moving forward with the PSN-linking requirement for Helldivers 2. Users are already changing their negative reviews to positive ones, with members of the community rallying around the cause. 

Culture War Takes Hold   

Despite this success story about gamers rallying together to make a popular game more accessible around the world, it’s worth mentioning that a lot of the fire came from not-so-positive internet culture warriors.

Some right-wing creators with an anti-DEI agenda tried to spin the controversy into a conspiracy theory. The theory goes that Sony is part of the woke cabal — after a sexy outfit in the Sony-published game Stellar Blade was patched out to show slightly less cleavage in April 2024.

Failed game developer Mark Kern used the opportunity to attack Helldivers 2 community managers, saying they are “extremely political, woke, and hate gamers” and that somehow this is their fault while they tried to calm the masses on Discord. When Sony announced the change, Kern patted himself on the back and promoted his petition to remove the Stellar Blade boob patch. 

Creators and fans from all sides of the aisle agreed the PSN linking was a bad move, just for different reasons. Gaming is a large community filled with all sorts of people from around the globe, but the vitriol of a few can co-opt a movement with solid intentions.

Thankfully for Helldivers, PR snafus come and go, and soon enough, there will be another controversy for the gamers to rage about.

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