Sony’s Helldivers 2 disaster shows PlayStation isn’t ready for PC

Sony's upcoming update that would have forced a mandatory Helldivers 2 PSN login for PC players has been canceled after significant backlash.

Sony’s Helldivers 2 disaster shows PlayStation isn’t ready for PC
Lee Brady

Lee Brady

Published

While PS5 players were peacefully collecting Helldivers 2 trophies and enjoying one of the best PS5 multiplayer games around this last weekend, the game's PC fan base was busy waging war with Sony. A recently announced update that would have forced a Helldivers 2 PSN login on PC had the game's community up in arms, and impressively, the fans won out. It seems Sony has a lot to learn about the new audience it's courting for PlayStation.

Helldivers 2 PSN login for PC players is not required

On Friday, May 3, 2024, Sony issued an update via the Helldivers 2 blog on Steam advising PC players of the game that mandatory PSN account linking would be required as of Thursday, May 30, 2024. Since the game's launch, Helldivers 2 PC players had been able to play the game without a PSN account. However, according to Sony, that have only been allowed due to "technical issues."

Helldivers 2 PC

The reaction from Helldivers 2's PC community was swift and brutal. Steam players who had purchased the game felt hoodwinked by Sony and developer Arrowhead Game Studios and immediately responded by review bombing Helldivers 2's Steam review score. Community backlash flooded Sony's social media accounts, although this unfortunately also led fans to harass uninvolved Arrowhead developers.

The reasons given by Helldivers 2 PC fans for the backlash tended to differ wildly. Some voiced mistrust of Sony and the security of having their personal details on PSN. Others expressed concerns with how PSN account linking would be handled in countries where PSN wasn't available — particularly as the game was removed from sale on Steam in many of those countries following Sony's PSN login announcement.

Helldivers PC

Whatever the reason, it was clear Helldivers 2's PC community wasn't having the change. While the game's Steam page had always featured a small notice regarding PSN account requirements (see screenshot above), that didn't change the fact that PC players had been enjoying the game for nearly three months without mandatory PSN logins. It seemed that all of the good will Sony's live-service game had amassed was in jeopardy, and, as a result, Sony backed off.

On Monday, May 6, 2024, Sony announced via X (see screenshot below) that it would "not be moving forward" with plans to make PSN accounts mandatory for Helldivers 2 players. In the post, Sony admitted that it's "still learning what is best for PC players and your feedback has been invaluable." So, to reiterate: Helldivers 2 does not require a PSN account on PC — linking accounts will remain optional, as it has been since launch.

Helldivers 2

Lee

Sony's PC plans might not have accounted for PC players

As vindicating as this update has been for the Helldivers 2 PC community, it also signals a tremendous PR loss for Sony. The PC market forms a major pillar in Sony's plans for PlayStation expansion in 2024, yet it's clear that the company hasn't yet figured out what it can and can't get away with when it comes to PC gamers.

While Sony does make unpopular service changes from time to time (for example, 2023's PS Plus annual price hike), there's only so much PS5 and PS4 owners can do in protest. They're tethered to Sony's platform and need to use a Sony account to access the majority of their games. If they don't like it, they'll have to pony up for another console, and in most cases, they'll be leaving behind a digital collection of games they've purchased.
Meanwhile, while the majority of PC users play games via Steam, the platform that Sony sells Helldivers 2 on, there is an abundance of competing platforms from which users can download games. This means PC users have much more freedom when it comes to deciding where to buy and play games. Plus, with decades of games available online, they also have no shortage of other options to play should their current fancy suddenly lose its flavor.

It's this market that Sony is currently trying to get a foothold in. While the quality of PlayStation games certainly does attract attention, that alone won't be enough to stay in the good graces of the PC gaming community.

PC gamers have long fostered hostile attitudes towards console gaming companies like Sony for their anti-consumer practices (like charging for online play and pursuing console exclusivity from big publishers). This latest Helldivers 2 mess just proves once again that Sony and its friends aren't to be trusted.
The PC gaming market will also prove an especially challenging hurdle for Sony to overcome in its live-service games era, as online titles like Helldivers 2 require a happy and active community to stay afloat and make money. That community has already proven volatile to anything it perceives as a negative change, so Sony will need to watch where it steps with its future PC gaming plans.

Ultimately, we'll have to keep our eyes peeled to see if Sony is able to navigate those tricky PC gaming waters. We've already seen considerable resistance to any notion of a PlayStation PC platform in the comments surroudning Sony's PlayStation PC trophies confirmation. I doubt this Helldivers 2 backlash will have eased that lack of enthusiasm. What do you think? Can PlayStation truly thrive on PC? Let us know down in the comments below.
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Shadow x Sonic Generations), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium games), and his secret third eye on junk he really likes (Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
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