Helldivers 2 Dev Says It’s Seen a ‘Horrifying’ Amount of Threats and Rude Behavior From Some in the Community

Helldivers 2 Dev Says It’s Seen a ‘Horrifying’ Amount of Threats and Rude Behavior From Some in the Community

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Helldivers 2 is a smash hit for developer Arrowhead and publisher Sony, but its huge success has caused a problem for the studio: there’s more community toxicity that it’s ever had to deal with before.

The co-op PlayStation 5 and PC shooter has sold an incredible 12 million copies in just 12 weeks, becoming PlayStation’s fastest-selling game of all time ahead of previous record-holder God of War Ragnarok.

Prior to the release of Helldivers 2, Arrowhead had enjoyed big hits with the first Helldivers game and Magicka, but the success of its latest game is on another level. Now, according to former Arrowhead CEO and now Arrowhead Chief Creative Officer Johan Pilestedt, bigger success means bigger toxicity.

“The big difference now, which is horrifying, is the amount of threats and rude behavior that people in the studio are getting from some really shitty individuals within the community,” Pilestedt told GamesIndustry.biz. “That’s something new we have to deal with.”

When Helldivers 2 launched it faced significant server issues that made the game unplayable for many, sparking an initial backlash. But since that issue was largely resolved, Arrowhead has faced complaints about everything from weapon balance to low impact Premium Warbonds. But by far the biggest backlash was sparked by Sony’s controversial decision to force PC gamers to link to a PlayStation Network account to play. Sony eventually reversed its decision, but not before a review-bombing campaign savaged Helldivers 2 on Steam. Arrowhead community managers have said the PSN backlash caused staff to lose a week simply having to deal with the fallout.

“The big difference now, which is horrifying, is the amount of threats and rude behavior that people in the studio are getting from some really shitty individuals within the community.

That’s plenty to contend with in just a few months post-launch. But Pilestedt suggested the way Helldivers 2 was designed, with frustration deliberately in place to craft the co-op experience hardcore players fully understand and appreciate, may also fuel toxicity from the wider playerbase. “If you don’t have those lows, you can’t get those highs,” Pilestedt said.

New Arrowhead CEO Shams Jorjani added: “Arrowhead’s philosophy has always been ‘a game for everyone is a game for no-one.’ That is the company slogan. It’s how our games are designed. You can feel it in every feature. I think it’s one of the big reasons that Helldivers 2 has been so successful. It feels fresh because it does a lot of unpopular stuff.

“When you hit this big, much bigger than anyone thought – Sony, us, everyone – what happens is the game finds an audience outside of that niche fan group. So you get this amplification of different voices. Almost all games have a bit of toxicity in the community, but with these big numbers you just get so many, so we need to work with the community to get them to self-moderate, give people the tools to speak with each other in a positive fashion, so we can keep talking to the players openly. The more voices being added to the choir does add complexity.”

“The more voices being added to the choir does add complexity.

Jorjani said that Arrowhead is currently “learning painfully” how to create systems to deal with this level of toxicity, but the work will benefit the studio’s “next thing, whatever that may be.”

Arrowhead isn’t the first developer to call out toxicity within video game communities. Earlier this year, Cities: Skylines 2 developer Colossal Order asked players to help create a more positive environment after noticing “a growing tendency of toxicity” in its community.

As for Helldivers 2, Arrowhead is full steam ahead on adding content to its live service, although it has indicated plans to slow down the frequency of patch releases to make sure it gets them right.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at [email protected] or confidentially at [email protected].

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