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Update: 06/05/24Sony gives up on forcing PlayStation Network for Helldivers 2.


Original article below:

The HELLDIVERS 2 situation is an increasingly messy one, and it's only getting worse for Arrowhead Game Studios thanks to Sony.

As a reminder on what's going on: since release, HELLDIVERS 2 has stated on the Steam page "Requires 3rd-Party Account: PlayStation Network (Supports Linking to Steam Account)". It has been there all along, although you do have to scroll down a bit to see it. However, due to overwhelming demand initially when it released, they didn't force it. An announcement was posted on the Steam page recently mentioning it will now actually be forced, which interestingly was signed by "Sony Interactive Entertainment" rather than the developer as usual.

The Steam page for HELLDIVERS 2 at time of writing has amassed a crazy 134,069 negative reviews over the last few days. This has pushed the recent reviews into Mostly Negative, with an overall Mixed score.

Now, Sony seem to be doubling down on this. As shown on SteamDB the game is no longer available for purchase in 177 locations. Why? PlayStation Network is not available in a lot of places, and so forcing this will mean players in these regions will be unable to play the game.

Valve has also reportedly begun approving refunds for players not happy about it. Even people with many tens of hours in the game, which is quite unusual for Valve. It makes sense though, Valve likely don't want the legal headaches of potentially thousands of people suddenly unable to play their purchase because of a newly enforced restriction.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), the Arrowhead CEO posted:

Ouch, right in the review score  Well, I guess it's warranted. Sorry everyone for how this all transpired. I hope we will make it up and regain the trust by providing a continued great game experience.  I just want to make great games!

This forcing of the account system comes from Sony directly, not from Arrowhead Game Studios, and clearly the team at Arrowhead are rather unhappy about it too. Writing in Discord, some of their team have been posting updates on it like:

A clear case in how to destroy something great. Hopefully Sony do the right thing here and make steps to fix the situation to improve the experience for players.

It's worth noting that the player counts on Steam have barely changed (SteamDB) at all during this time.

Interestingly. Sony updated their PSN sign-in on PC help page too recently. Originally it stated:

Do I have to sign in to PSN to play a PlayStation game on PC?
Signing in to PSN is optional when playing a PlayStation game on PC.

Then it was changed around May 4th to read:

Do I have to sign in to PSN to play a PlayStation game on PC?

Some PlayStation games may require you sign in and link to an account for PSN.

And now it's back to saying it's optional again. So they changed it and then changed it back.

I'm also hoping this is a wake-up call for Valve too on forced 3rd-party accounts. A single mention in the Steam page sidebar is clearly not enough to inform buyers. My basic idea is to add it clearly during checkout too, above the price and payment info. Something that cannot be skipped. There's quite a lot of games on Steam now that require an extra account, so it would make sense for Valve to have a much more prominent statement on it.


Update: 05/05/24 14:47 - The Arrowhead CEO, Johan Pilestedt, posted on X (formerly Twitter) to confirm "We are talking solutions with PlayStation, especially for non-PSN countries. Your voice has been heard, and I am doing everything I can to speak for the community - but I don't have the final say.".

And in reply to a user mentioning they should have known about this, Pilestedt replied: "I do have a part to play. I am not blameless in all of this - it was my decision to disable account linking at launch so that players could play the game. I did not ensure players were aware of the requirement and we didn't talk about it enough.

We knew for about 6 months before launch that it would be mandatory for online PS titles."

On top of that, just to be clear, another user asked why they sold it in unsupported regions to which Pilestedt replied: "We do not handle selling the game.". So once again, how this is being handled is down to Sony.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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35 comments
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Ehvis May 5
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QuoteNow, Sony seem to be doubling down on this. As shown on SteamDB the game is no longer available for purchase in 177 locations. Why? PlayStation Network is not available in a lot of places, and so forcing this will mean players in these regions will be unable to play the game.

This is where things get seriously immoral. If it was always the plan to enforce PSN accounts, why was the game sold in these countries?
torkel104 May 5
I wonder why none of Microsoft's games have been review-bombed for requiring an xbox live account
Bogomips May 5
I am pretty sure Sony never had any interest in their customers. The MD Walkman with USB connection was the last thing I bought from them when they put lock on your own recording content to prevent higher speed download from their devices.

If they could find a way to lock everything in their ecosystem they would do it. (For those who remember https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal).
Pengling May 5
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Quotesince release, HELLDIVERS 2 has stated on the Steam page "Requires 3rd-Party Account: PlayStation Network (Supports Linking to Steam Account)". It has been there all along, although you do have to scroll down a bit to see it. However, due to overwhelmingly demand initially when it released, they didn't force it.
It's also worth noting that, until May 3rd, Sony's own FAQ mentioned that linking PSN accounts to Steam was optional for PlayStation-branded PC games, and they changed that right before saying that there had been a grace-period for Helldivers 2.
Termy May 5
It always puts a smile on my face when greedy corps get some backlash for anti consumer bullshit :)
Quoting: EhvisThis is where things get seriously immoral. If it was always the plan to enforce PSN accounts, why was the game sold in these countries?

It's a simple gamble : they initially made millions by selling the game and not enforcing the PSN requirement. They're now counting on the fact that many players who tasted and liked the game will simply cave in and register an account. Because it's the simpler thing to do. In other countries, they count on the fact that not many players will bother asking for a refund.

If the numbers of players who cave in and create a PSN account is greater than the number of people who ask (and get) a refund, it's a win for them. The negative impact in terms of brand popularity is negligible vs the money they'll make by gathering, siphoning and reselling data from PSN accounts created by PC players. I'd dare to say, when you just look at how big corpos behave, it's a brilliant business move, especially since most players will have forgotten about this, or worse, think it's the devs that made this choice.

Next step in a few months/years is custom launcher, ads, and ultimately, mandatory monthly subscription.


Last edited by ssj17vegeta on 5 May 2024 at 9:40 am UTC
pb May 5
Leave it to corporate pigheads to waste the work of a dedicated dev team and tarnish the experience of the players.
finaldest May 5
I have been reviewing my purchasing habits as I have been burned a few times just recently. I have realised that I have become too comfortable buying digital games to then get screwed over by the publisher because they decide to change the terms and conditions after purchase and after the 2 hour refund window has passed.

Recent examples,

Requiring 3rd party accounts (HD2)
DRM and Anti-cheat (EA)
Dropping Steam Workshop support for propriety solutions (PDX)
Games getting outright deleted from existence.(Ubi)

Luckily I hadn't yet purchased HD2 so I have now removed this from my wish list. I am now evaluating whether to continue PC gaming after being on the platform for over 30 years as I am just getting fed up with being treated like an ATM.

I have just acquired an Xbox 360 to take a break from steam for a while and revisit some old classics before the 360 Store is shut down.
drjoms May 5
Quoting: torkel104I wonder why none of Microsoft's games have been review-bombed for requiring an xbox live account
I personally did leave a bad review about one of their games.
emphy May 5
Quoting: finaldest...

Luckily I hadn't yet purchased HD2 so I have now removed this from my wish list. I am now evaluating whether to continue PC gaming after being on the platform for over 30 years as I am just getting fed up with being treated like an ATM.

...

Alternatively, on pc you can avoid playable monetization strategies and exclusively buy drm free and/or take into account those dangers of getting burnt by adjusting the price, at which you purchase the games, accordingly.


Last edited by emphy on 5 May 2024 at 10:36 am UTC
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