Helldivers 2 Community Manager Fired Over PSNAccountLinking Controversy

Arrowhead Game Studios fired its community manager after they encouraged review-bombing of Helldivers 2 on Steam over Sony's mandatory PSN account linking requirement. Sony later reversed the decision, making PSN linking optional, but not before the game was delisted in 177 countries where PSN is not available.

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Helldivers 2 Community Manager Fired Over PSNAccountLinking Controversy

Helldivers 2 Community Manager Fired Over PSNAccountLinking Controversy

Arrowhead Game Studios, the developer behind the popular cooperative shooter Helldivers 2, has fired its community manager following a controversy surrounding Sony's mandatory PlayStation Network (PSN) account linking requirement for the game on Steam. The decision comes after the community manager encouraged players to engage in review-bombing the game on the digital distribution platform in response to the controversial policy.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the importance of considering the global gaming community's needs and the potential backlash of restrictive policies. It also raises questions about the balance of power between game developers, publishers, and platform holders, and how their decisions can impact gamers' experiences.

The controversy began on May 3, 2024, when Sony announced that the Steam version of Helldivers 2 would require players to sign in with a PSN account. The decision was met with immediate backlash from the gaming community, particularly those in over 100 countries without access to PSN. In response, the Helldivers 2 community took to Steam, leaving a flood of negative reviews and tanking the game's rating on the confirms, major, change platform.

Amid the growing outrage, the now-former community manager took to social media, encouraging players to continue review-bombing the game. This action ultimately led to their dismissal from Arrowhead Game Studios. CEO Johan Pilestedt addressed the issue in a Discord post, stating,"I'm speaking to our partners at PlayStation and Valve and pushing for it to be undone. Getting the account linking took a herculean effort – but I won't rest in my desire to have it available everywhere."

On May 5, 2024, just two days after the initial announcement, Sony backtracked on its decision, making PSN account linking optional for Helldivers 2 players on Steam. However, the damage had already been done, as the game was delisted from the platform in 177 countries where PSN is not available. The delisting occurred just 30 hours before Sony's reversal, with the game being removed from sale at 22:00 UTC on May 4th and the PSN requirement being walked back at 04:00 UTC on May 6th.

Twitch streamer PirateSoftware criticized Sony's handling of the situation, claiming that the company "tricked" the Helldivers 2 community. They argued that while players "declared victory" and returned the game's review score to a positive standing on Steam, Sony quietly removed purchase options for Helldivers 2 in the 177 affected countries. PirateSoftware dubbed this move a "one-two punch," highlighting the short timeframe between the two actions.

As of May 7, 2024, Helldivers 2 has seen a resurgence in positive reviews on Steam, with over 200,000 users expressing their satisfaction with Sony's decision to make PSN account linking optional. However, the game remains unavailable for purchase in the 177 countries affected by the delisting. Both Sony and Valve, the owner of Steam, are reportedly involved in the decision to restore the game to the storefront in these regions.