Sony demands PSN accounts for Helldivers 2 PC players, and it’s not going well

Helldivers 2 player posing in winter armor
Enlarge / This equipment comes from the upcoming Warbond Premium “Polar Patriots” in Helldiverse 2. This is an upcoming change that the developer and publisher would probably like to receive more attention of late.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

There are a lot of stories about the modern PC gaming industry packed into a recent “update” of Helldiverse 2.

Sony Interactive Entertainment announced Thursday evening that current players of the wildly successful co-op shooter will need to connect their Steam accounts to a PlayStation Network (PSN) account starting May 30, with a deadline of June 4. to connect the two from Monday May 6.

Officially, this is happening because of “the safety and security provided on PlayStation and PlayStation Studios games.” Account linking allows Sony to ban abusive players and also gives banned players the right to appeal. Sony writes that it would have done so at launch, but “Due to technical issues…we have allowed the requirements for linking Steam accounts to a PlayStation Network account to be temporarily optional. This 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 you are all proud to be a part of,” Sony writes in the update. THE Helldiverse The community on Reddit is full of dissenting posts today, and Steam reviews of the game have taken a sharp turn since the announcement.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Oh that’s right, that PlayStation Network

It’s the combination of “safety and security” and “Sony” that does more than the typical complaints about game launchers, cross-play, or other user/password requests. The PlayStation Network was completely and famously hacked in April 2011, with the names, addresses, emails, birthdays, passwords and usernames of 77 million users compromised. Sony Online Entertainment also suffered a separate attack while PSN was down, revealing millions of additional accounts and thousands of credit card numbers. PSN came back partially 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, other aspects of Sony were hacked by LulzSec.

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

Those with long enough computer memory, security, and Sony may also remember the Sony rootkit debacle, which, although almost 20 years old now, was such a bad and weird thing that he stayed.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

An online game that people want less online

Helldiverse 2 wasn’t supposed to be such an important match. Sony was still cautiously dipping its toes into PC gaming after years of treating its exclusive, first-party games like console leverage. Helldiverse 2 was the sequel to a game that, while well-liked, was not a huge success.

One day after its launch, Helldiverse 2 was Sony’s most successful PC launch, and it wasn’t even close. In two weeks, he surpassed the record number of simultaneous players 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 (rarely) glaring performance issues or crashes. There were, as Sony noted, server issues early on, largely due to demand. Anyway, it was Sony’s seventh highest grossing game as of May 1.

The success hurts the optics of Sony’s demand, months after an unexpected success, that players must now sign up for its less-than-reliable network to continue playing. A non-mega-budget game, a trial sequel, hits big, and Sony, finding its place in this new realm, doesn’t want to leave this opportunity as a one-time purchase on Steam.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Two airships jousting above us

Helldiverse 2 is explicitly multiplayer and the action takes place on Sony’s servers. But Steam is the means by which Helldiverse 2 reaches its players, promotes engagement and, of course, tries to attract them to DLC, other sequels and maybe other Sony PC games, provided they are also available on Steam.

There are no hard numbers on Steam’s PC gaming market share, but we do know that the biggest competitor, Epic Games, loses hundreds of millions of dollars every year giving away games just to gain a foothold. Steam’s market position, recommendation vagaries, and significant 30% revenue cut have left many companies looking for ways to decouple 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 presents difficult Google search results.

It should be noted that PSN is not necessarily available in all countries where Steam sells games. We’ve reached out to Sony to ask about this and for additional comment on its PSN requirements, and will update this article if we receive a response.

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