Sony angered PC players of 'Helldivers 2' by trying them to force them to link to PlayStation Network account

Paris (AFP) - Sony backtracked Monday after players of its popular cooperative third-person shooter game “Helldivers 2” pushed back against a requirement to link with its PlayStation Network platform.

“Helldivers fans – we’ve heard your feedback on the Helldivers 2 account linking update,” Sony said on its X, formerly Twitter, account for its PlayStation game console.

The Japanese firm provoked anger after announcing last Friday it would require PC players of “Helldivers 2” to link their Steam account with the PlayStation Network.

Steam is a popular platform for playing video games on PCs, tablets and phones, while PlayStation Network is a similar platform for PlayStation users.

Sony said the planned May 6 update, requiring new users to link their accounts, had been scrapped, along with one planned for the end of the month, which would have obliged existing users to do so.

Linking accounts allows PC and PlayStation players to play together, but PC players saw being forced to do so as a move by Sony to artificially boost the numbers of its online players.

Furthermore, players in 177 countries where it was not possible to open a PlayStation Network account saw their access cut over the weekend, according to the SteamDB database.

“I’ve lost access to my main Helldivers 2 account because I live in the Philippines,” said Zanny, a YouTuber with 2.3 million followers, on X.

Fans quickly made their displeasure known, posting 200,000 bad reviews of the game on Steam within three days, tanking its rating and pushing Sony to react.

“We’re still learning what is best for PC players and your feedback has been invaluable,” said Sony on the PlayStation X account.

“Helldivers 2”, which came out in February on both PCs and PlayStations, allows players to play soldiers sent from planet to planet to battle hordes of insects and giant robots in an ambiance similar to the 1997 action film “Starship Troopers”.

Developed by the Swedish studio Arrowhead and published by Sony, the game has proved to be extremely popular, with PC sales helping drive it to Sony’s seventh highest grossing game ever, according to analyst Mat Piscatella at market tracking firm Circana.

Analyst Doug Creutz at TD Cowen estimated 8 million copies of the game had been sold by mid-March.

Arrowhead chief executive Johan Pilestedt said on X he was “impressed by the willpower” of Helldivers players.

He also thanked PlayStation “for quickly and effectively making the decision to leave PSN linking optional.”