On its third weekend, Helldivers 2 actually worked

It took just over two weeks and some loss of sleep, but Helldivers 2, the smash hit co-op shooter from PlayStation and Sweden’s Arrowhead Game Studio, now actually works. Which is to say, the game cruised through peak play hours over its third weekend with minimal login issues, and with the majority of players able to get online and work together to save managed democracy, eliminating one bug (or robot) at a time.

That’s according to Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt (and also according to Polygon’s own anecdotal experience — we had no issues playing over the weekend).

“I’m really happy and proud of the Arrowhead team for an amazing Achievement, the servers handled all Helldivers 2 players this weekend without problem,” Pilestedt posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday morning. “Now we have time to focus on improvements to the title and resume our original plan. Many exciting things upcoming!”

Going in to the weekend, Pilestedt had been bullish that his team had finally managed to increase the game’s server capacity enough to meet player demand. On Friday he said that the team had boosted capacity to 700,000 concurrent players, and while he expected that limit to be reached, he thought wait times would be “bearable.” On Saturday, he said the capacity had been raised to 800,000 players with “light queues to get in at peak.”

“How crazy is this message from a studio of ~100 devs?” Pilestedt asked rhetorically, finally allowing himself a humblebrag about how big Helldivers 2 had gotten despite the relatively modest size of the studio that made it.

With a peak of over 450,000 concurrent players on Steam, Helldivers 2 has now made a home for itself in the top five games on the platform, ahead of Apex Legends. Presumably its audience on PlayStation 5 doesn’t lag too far behind, although Sony doesn’t share this data.

But perhaps the most remarkable part of this success story is how Arrowhead has weathered some debilitating tech issues without losing the goodwill of the majority of players. That’s partly attributable to how much fun the game is, and partly due to Arrowhead’s underdog status (despite being underwritten by Sony). But it’s also down to Pilestedt tweeting through it with total candor, good humor, and an invitation to players to empathize with the hard-pressed developers. Sony’s campaign to get into live service games is off to the best possible start, and Pilestedt can take a lot of credit for that.