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Sony Requires PSN Accounts for Helldivers 2 PC Players and It’s Not Going Well

Helldivers 2 player posing in winter armor
Enlarge / This team is from the upcoming premium warbond “Polar Patriots” on helldivers 2. It’s an upcoming change that the developer and publisher probably wish would get more attention lately.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

There are many stories about the modern PC gaming industry collected in a recent “update” from helldivers 2.

Sony Interactive Entertainment announced Thursday night that current players of the hit co-op shooter will have to connect their Steam accounts to a PlayStation Network (PSN) account starting May 30, with a strict deadline of June 4. New players will be required to connect the two starting Monday, May 6.

Officially, this happens due to the “security that PlayStation games and PlayStation Studios provide.” Linking accounts allows Sony to ban abusive players and also gives banned players the right to appeal. Sony writes that it would have done this at launch, but “Due to technical issues… we allowed the requirements for linking Steam accounts to a PlayStation Network account to be temporarily optional. That grace period will now expire.”

“We understand that while this may be an inconvenience for some of you, this step will help us continue to build a community that all of you are proud to be a part of,” Sony writes in the update. He helldivers The community on Reddit is abuzz with dissenting posts today, and reviews of the game on Steam have taken a marked turn since the announcement.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Correct, that PlayStation Network

It’s the combination of “safety and protection” and “Sony” that makes this more than the typical complaints about game launchers, cross-play, or other username/password demands. PlayStation Network was completely hacked in April 2011, with 77 million names, addresses, emails, birthdays, passwords and logins compromised. Sony Online Entertainment also suffered a separate attack while PSN was down, exposing millions more accounts and thousands of credit card numbers. PSN was partially back online 26 days later, then fully online two weeks later, with a free year of identity protection and welcome packages for subscribers. Less than a month later, LulzSec hacked other aspects of Sony.

Sony was fined almost $400,000 in the United Kingdom for the hack in 2013, which regulators said could have been prevented by updating software and taking precautions. Sony agreed to pay up to $17.5 million in a US class-action settlement in 2014, in addition to offering free games and other benefits in 2015.

Those with enough memory about computers, security, and Sony might also remember the Sony rootkit debacle, which, while now almost 20 years old, was something so remarkably bad and strange that it stuck around.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

An online game that people want less online

helldivers 2 It wasn’t supposed to be that big of a game. Sony was still cautiously venturing into PC gaming after years of treating its exclusive, first-party games as the console’s advantage. helldivers 2 was a sequel to a game that, while well-regarded, was not a huge success.

One day after its launch, helldivers 2 It was Sony’s most successful PC launch and it wasn’t even close. In two weeks, it surpassed the all-time concurrent player count of Starfield, Destiny 2, landing at #18 on the SteamDB charts. It helped that it launched on the same day as the PS5 version, was cheaper than most AAA titles, and arrived without (unusually) egregious performance issues or crashes. As Sony noted, there were teething problems with the server, largely due to demand. Whatever the case, it was Sony seventh highest-grossing game as of May 1.

That success hurts the optics of Sony’s demand, months after its unexpected success, that gamers must now log into its unreliable network to continue playing. A game without a mega-budget, a trial sequel, is a great success, and Sony, finding its place in this new field, does not want to leave such an opportunity as a one-time Steam purchase.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Two airships fighting above

helldivers 2 It is explicitly multiplayer and the action takes place on Sony servers. But Steam is the means by which helldivers 2 it reaches out to its players, encourages engagement, and of course tries to entice them toward DLC, more sequels, and perhaps other Sony PC games, as long as they’re also available on Steam.

There are no solid numbers on Steam’s PC gaming market share, but we do know that the biggest competitor, Epic Games, is losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year giving away games just to get some kind of foothold. Steam’s position in the market, the vagaries of recommendations, and the broad 30 percent revenue cut have left many companies looking for ways to separate their future from a single platform. It turns out that Sony is the one asking the difficult question, for reasons that don’t seem entirely obvious months later, and with a network that has some difficult search results on Google.

It’s worth noting that PSN isn’t necessarily available in all countries where Steam sells games. We’ve reached out to Sony to ask about this and get more comment on their PSN requirement, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.