The boss of Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead has discussed the game’s microtransactions, insisting the game is not ‘pay-to-win.’

Helldivers 2 is a $39.99 co-op shooter in which players team up to battle alien bugs and terrifying automatons. It’s gone down particularly well with players, becoming Sony’s biggest ever launch on PC after hitting at least 360,000 peak concurrent players across PlayStation 5 and Steam.

However, there is some debate about Helldivers 2’s monetisation. The game features a free and premium battle pass, both of which include items that affect gameplay. Some weapons and armour, for example, are restricted to the $9.99 premium battle pass. There are also gameplay-affecting items available for direct purchase via a virtual currency bought with real-world money. The in-game shop rotates what’s for sale each day, so there is an element of fear of missing out (FOMO) at play here.

It’s important to note, however, that Helldivers 2’s virtual currency (medals, super credits etc) can be obtained purely through gameplay, although doing so can be painfully slow. It’s also worth pointing out that Helldivers 2 is a pure co-op game for up to four players. There is no player-versus-player mode.

Still, that hasn’t stopped some from suggesting there’s a whiff of “pay-to-win” about Helldivers 2. Enter Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt, who took to Twitter / X to address the concern. “I’m partial but we really applied ourselves to not make it p2w even though items are functionally different,” he said. “The only item that’s p2w is the revolver – which will win you any ‘cool gun’ competition. Only (minor) problem is that it’s not that good.”

Then, responding to another user, Pilestedt said: “You have to earn the right to monetize.” “I truly believe that,” he continued. “If people want to support this title they have an option, but we are never forcing anyone to do so.”

Generally speaking, Helldivers 2 players are in agreement. Indeed, after a rough launch, Steam users have given it a ‘mostly positive’ user review rating. PS5 reviews are similarly positive.

Where there is no doubt that Helldivers 2 is struggling is with login issues and progression not tracking properly. Pilestedt issued an apology to players and explained how servers had struggled to cope with the onslaught of players. Meanwhile, Helldivers 2 players have already established an “unspoken” co-op etiquette.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at wesley_yinpoole@ign.com or confidentially at wyp100@proton.me.