Helldivers 2 CEO Says ‘Just Fix, Don’t Add’ Isn’t A Viable Option

Helldivers 2 CEO Says ‘Just Fix, Don’t Add’ Isn’t A Viable Option

Helldivers 2 has spent the last several months on fire. On one hand, it’s easily one of the most popular games of the year, and folks have loved jumping into the exciting co-op shooter and keeping up with its galactic war story. Players log on for a few hours at a time, fighting off bugs or robots and propelling one of the most interesting player-led stories happening in games right now. On the other hand, Helldivers 2 has been riddled with bugs and crashes that have spoiled the fun on more than one occasion, and a few months in this is beginning to wear on the community. Now the developer’s CEO has explained why it’s imperative they keep adding new content at the same time as trying to fix the issues.

Helldivers 2 players have been very communicative about their issues with the game, whether it be on the game’s official Discord server or the subreddit, and Arrowhead Game Studios is obviously plugged into those conversations, especially its CEO Johan Pilestedt. That’s why it wasn’t all that surprising to see Pilestedt jump in and respond to a post on the subreddit which had called out the community for “riding [the] fine line between constructive input and whiny entitlement.” Pilestedt admitted that the team at Arrowhead, which remains a pretty small and privately owned studio, has faced some difficulties as it produces fixes to bugs and continues to roll out content. That includes the rollout of premium warbonds, which grant players new gear and weapons at the cost of either real money or reasonably attainable in-game equivalents.

Pilestedt goes on to say, “We want to deliver the best in the industry and we are calibrating our efforts of fixing vs new stuff. It’s easy to say ‘just fix, don’t add,’ but the reality of the competitiveness in this industry is that we have to do both to stay relevant.”

This tricky balance is a “hot topic” at the studio, according to Pilestedt, and is a problem I’ve been concerned about since Arrowhead first showed their hand. The promise of drip-fed new content in the game makes the world the team’s building feel alive and reactive, but it also represents a lot of work for a small group of people. The folks putting out new stuff on a consistent basis are the same ones expected to squash the problems that introducing new things can add. Staff are understandably being spread thin as the reality of developing a live service game has settled in.

Countless studios have had to take periods of time just to fix live services titles, like Rainbow Six: Siege and even Payday 3, which launched in a busted state late last year. Respawn broke from the traditional delivery of a new hero character to Apex Legends in order to prioritize the long-term health of the game, and reworked various systems and characters in the meantime. The primary motive of delivering new stuff to consumers and making numbers go up has frequently burnt out teams, as well as communities, and is a constant threat to countless studios that risk running their games aground.

Pilestedt isn’t wrong about the field being deeply competitive, and I fear he’s especially on the money when he says the studio can’t really afford to lag behind, especially considering the cadence the company established for itself. While there are absolutely calls to stop producing new content, there are even more people who will silently (or loudly) judge Helldivers 2 and abandon it the second it stops working as billed. It’s the unfortunate and cruel reality of working on a live service title.

Pilestedt says that Arrowhead is “calibrating” its efforts, and that the team needs to find its “stride and balance,” which leads me to believe that the studio is on it. The hope is that Arrowhead can continue to deliver content at a clip that makes sense and doesn’t kill the team, while also leaving room for maintenance. That or the company takes resources from its newfound success to grow in departments that could better facilitate the balancing of these needs.

Let the lesson at the end of this all be that running a live service game like Helldivers 2 is hard work, no matter how much you prepare for it, and that the developers working on it should be lent the time and grace to best find the balance that works for the team.

We’ve reached out for comment.

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