Ghost of Tsushima’s PSN Controversy on Steam

Ghost of Tsushima Flooded with Negative Reviews on Steam Due to PSN Requirement

Not long ago, I wrote about how Sony was squandering player goodwill with the Helldivers 2 debacle. The game publisher announced it would require Helldivers 2 players on PC to link their PSN accounts to Steam to keep playing the game. The only problem? A lot of PC gamers either didn’t want to create a PSN account since they don’t own a PlayStation, or simply couldn’t because they lived in one of 177 different countries where that’s simply not possible. Sony ended up backtracking on the decision after enough bad press—and hundreds of thousands of negative Steam user reviews—forced their hand.

Ghost of Tsushima game cover art showing the main character in samurai armor
Image Credit: Ars Technica

But the damage is done, and the goodwill has already been lost. One of the best PlayStation 4 games ever made, Ghost of Tsushima, lands on Steam today and already the negative user reviews are in. From what I’ve perused so far, none of the negative reviews have anything to do with the gameplay or the game’s performance on Steam. Instead, the negative reviews all focus on the PSN requirement.

In the case of Ghost of Tsushima, this was much better advertised. Helldivers 2 waived the requirement for several months before Sony made the announcement, which is largely why it was met with such enormous backlash. Ghost of Tsushima makes it clear from the outset. It also makes it clear that the requirement is only for the multiplayer co-op portion of the game and the PlayStation overlay, which means you can play the entire single-player campaign—the vast bulk of the game—without a PSN account linked to your Steam account.

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My hunch here is that had there never been a Helldivers 2 PSN controversy, and all the bad press that engendered, Ghost of Tsushima’s PSN requirement would have flown mostly under the radar. Sony made this bed for themselves and now every one of their Steam releases that has multiplayer components will be hit with lots of negative reviews that focus solely on that.

It’s unfortunate timing. The game drops on Steam at the exact same time Ubisoft revealed the first Japanese Assassin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed Shadows. That game is already embroiled in controversy over one of its main protagonists, Yasuke, and Sony could have easily capitalized on that by making a big deal out of the Ghost of Tsushima Steam launch. Instead, both games are bogged down in their very own controversies. And this is why we can’t have nice things.

A Closer Look at the Controversy

Sony’s decision to enforce a PSN account linkage for PC gamers has sparked considerable debate and frustration among the gaming community. For a significant portion of PC gamers, the requirement to create and link a PSN account feels like an unnecessary and cumbersome step, especially for those who have never owned or used a PlayStation console.

This issue is further exacerbated by the fact that many PC gamers live in countries where creating a PSN account is not feasible due to regional restrictions. The Helldivers 2 incident highlighted this problem starkly, and despite Sony’s eventual reversal of the decision, the trust and goodwill were already severely impacted. Ghost of Tsushima has unfortunately inherited this backlash, as players were already primed to react negatively to any similar requirement.

The Impact on Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima is widely regarded as one of the finest games on the PlayStation 4, praised for its stunning visuals, engaging storyline, and intricate combat system. The transition to PC should have been a momentous occasion, opening the game up to a whole new audience. However, the shadow of the PSN controversy has tainted its Steam debut.

From the reviews observed on Steam, it’s clear that the primary complaint is not about the game itself but about the PSN requirement. This is an unfortunate situation because it means that potential new players might be dissuaded from trying out what is, by all accounts, an excellent game. The requirement to link a PSN account, even if just for the multiplayer component, has overshadowed the many merits of the game itself.

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Comparison with Helldivers 2

The Helldivers 2 situation serves as a useful comparison to understand why Ghost of Tsushima is facing such backlash. In the case of Helldivers 2, the PSN account linkage requirement was introduced months after the game’s release. This abrupt change blindsided players who had been enjoying the game without any such requirement. The sudden imposition of a PSN account requirement felt like a betrayal to many, leading to widespread negative reviews and vocal criticism.

In contrast, Ghost of Tsushima was more upfront about its PSN requirement. From the outset, players were informed that linking a PSN account would be necessary for accessing the multiplayer co-op mode. Despite this transparency, the lingering resentment from the Helldivers 2 debacle has spilled over, affecting the reception of Ghost of Tsushima on Steam.

The Broader Implications for Sony

Sony’s handling of the PSN account linkage issue has broader implications for the company’s strategy and reputation. The negative reception on Steam could have a lasting impact on future releases. Each new game that requires a PSN account linkage is likely to face a similar backlash, regardless of the game’s quality or the transparency of the requirement.

This situation also raises questions about Sony’s approach to cross-platform integration. While the intention behind requiring a PSN account is likely to create a more unified and cohesive ecosystem, the execution has left much to be desired. Sony needs to find a balance between maintaining a unified platform and respecting the preferences and constraints of PC gamers.

Lessons to Be Learned

The backlash against Ghost of Tsushima and Helldivers 2 offers several lessons for game developers and publishers. Transparency is crucial, but so is understanding the unique needs and expectations of different gaming communities. Forcing players to adopt systems they are unfamiliar with or have no interest in can lead to frustration and alienation.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider the global audience when implementing such requirements. Regional restrictions that prevent players from creating necessary accounts can severely limit the game’s reach and appeal. Addressing these issues upfront and providing alternatives or solutions can help mitigate negative reactions.

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Moving Forward

For Sony, the path forward involves rebuilding trust with the gaming community. This can be achieved by listening to player feedback, addressing concerns promptly, and ensuring that future policies and requirements are implemented with the player’s experience in mind.

In the case of Ghost of Tsushima, Sony might consider revisiting the PSN account linkage requirement, especially for regions where creating a PSN account is problematic. Providing more flexibility and options for players could help improve the game’s reception and restore some of the lost goodwill.

The Competitive Landscape

The timing of Ghost of Tsushima’s Steam release amidst the announcement of Assassin’s Creed Shadows highlights the competitive nature of the gaming industry. Both games, set in Japan and featuring samurai warriors, have generated significant interest and comparison.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows, despite its controversies, has the advantage of being part of a well-established franchise with a dedicated fanbase. Ghost of Tsushima, while critically acclaimed, is still relatively new in comparison. Sony could have leveraged this opportunity to highlight Ghost of Tsushima’s strengths and unique features, but the PSN controversy has overshadowed this potential.


Ghost of Tsushima’s debut on Steam should have been a celebration of one of PlayStation 4’s greatest hits reaching a broader audience. Instead, it has been marred by the lingering resentment from the Helldivers 2 PSN account debacle. While the game itself remains a masterpiece, the negative reviews focused on the PSN requirement have dampened its reception.

For Sony, this serves as a critical lesson in the importance of player goodwill and the need for careful consideration of cross-platform integration policies. By addressing these issues and prioritizing player experience, Sony can hope to regain the trust and enthusiasm of the gaming community.


Q: Why is Ghost of Tsushima receiving negative reviews on Steam?

A: The negative reviews focus on the requirement to link a PSN account for the multiplayer co-op portion, not the gameplay or performance.

Q: Is the PSN account required for the single-player campaign of Ghost of Tsushima on Steam?

A: No, the PSN account is only required for the multiplayer co-op portion and the PlayStation overlay, not for the single-player campaign.

Q: Did Sony inform players about the PSN requirement for Ghost of Tsushima on Steam?

A: Yes, Sony made it clear from the outset that a PSN account would be required for the multiplayer co-op portion of Ghost of Tsushima on Steam.

Q: How does the PSN requirement for Ghost of Tsushima differ from Helldivers 2?

A: For Helldivers 2, the PSN requirement was introduced several months after the game’s release, leading to backlash. In contrast, Ghost of Tsushima’s PSN requirement was advertised from the beginning.

Q: What impact did the Helldivers 2 controversy have on Ghost of Tsushima’s reception on Steam?

A: The negative reception to Helldivers 2’s PSN requirement likely heightened sensitivity to the same requirement in Ghost of Tsushima, leading to many negative reviews.

Also Read:- Ghost of Tsushima PC: PSN Limitations

Q: Why is the timing of Ghost of Tsushima’s Steam release considered unfortunate?

A: The release coincided with Ubisoft’s announcement of Assassin’s Creed Shadows, another game set in Japan, which was already embroiled in controversy. This timing could have been an opportunity for Sony to stand out but instead, both games faced their controversies.

Q: What is the main controversy surrounding Assassin’s Creed Shadows?

A: The controversy involves one of its main protagonists, Yasuke, which has garnered mixed reactions and attention.

Q: What could Sony have done to improve the reception of Ghost of Tsushima on Steam?

A: Sony could have capitalized on the controversy surrounding Assassin’s Creed Shadows by highlighting Ghost of Tsushima’s strengths and addressing the PSN requirement issue more proactively.

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