As Helldivers 2 boss Johan Pilestedt hangs up his CEO hat to focus on the creative side, he has one big change in mind: ‘My working theory is that time-to-kill is too high’

Johan Pilestedt is no longer CEO of the studio he founded. He's handed that job to Paradox veteran Shams Jorjani, and given himself the new title of Chief Creative Officer at Arrowhead. His goal in the new role is to be more hands-on with Helldivers 2 going forward and, in his own words, “spend MORE time with the team and 100% of my focus on the games and community.”

Indeed, Pilestedt is eager to put away his metaphorical clipboard and pick up a brush. In replies to the news on Twitter, the new CCO expressed that he's glad to “not have to deal with HR policies and [quarterly bussiness reviews]” anymore, and said “the business side takes too much time from making games!”

With time freed up to focus on the future of Helldivers 2, Pilestedt even opened up about a few topics on his mind: interpreting player feedback, devs playing their own game, and time-to-kill.

“First thing we got to do is ensure we get more devs time playing the game. It's hard to make the right decisions if the eyes aren't on the road,” Pilestedt replied to a fan asking about reviewing feedback. “Secondly, I want to ensure we actively look at the sentiment and create a holistic view of WHY feedback is given. And my working theory is that TTK is too high.”

Pilestedt did not specify what feedback he's referring to, but it's likely he's talking about a common complaint that Helldivers 2 primary weapons are too weak. Pilestedt, and Arrowhead at large, has always maintained that primary guns aren't supposed to be all that powerful, as you're meant to rely on stratagems to get the job done. But there's a fine line between “deliberately OK” and “so boring it's bad.” Arrowhead hasn't held back from buffing guns deemed underpowered since launch, but it has also doled out its share of nerfs. Some players reject the idea of nerfing guns in a PvE game on principle, though Arrowhead has gone on the record about why “don't nerf, only buff” is a bad idea.

Pilestedt's latest comments suggest that Arrowhead should treat blunt balancing feedback with more nuance. Maybe it's not the gun stats that are a problem, but overly tanky Automatons making divers feel underpowered? 

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(Image credit: Johan Pilestedt via Twitter)

“[The game] doesn't have to be easier. It's just that the weapons occasionally feel like pea shooters,” Pilestedt wrote in another reply.

The updated approach to Helldivers 2 balancing may go hand-in-hand with the studio's plan to slow down the cadence of patches. If devs are to spend more time in the game they're tasked with balancing, those hours have to come from somewhere.

Pilestedt wants “longer lasting content” in Helldivers 2

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(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

One more Pilestedt Twitter tidbit of note: Replying to a fan making suggestions to retain Helldivers 2's player base, which has naturally gone down on Steam as of late with fewer updates dropping, the CCO said the game needs “longer lasting content as well.”

At risk of reading too much into an innocuous tweet, I'm a little irked by the notion that fewer people playing Helldivers 2 right now is a problem. We know that even the most popular service game player graphs are a parabola—they naturally go up and down as players return to check out new updates, reach the end of progression tracks, or simply get bored with playing one game for months straight.

As sticky as Helldivers 2 has proven since February, it does not have infinite things to do. I unlocked every stratagem and most guns after 100 hours, and I've been playing less since then. There is nothing about Helldivers 2 that suggests it's meant to never stop playing—in fact, its $40 price tag means Helldivers 2 should be less reliant on daily player interaction than free-to-play shooters like The Finals or Apex Legends. Fewer active players nearly four months and 12 million copies later should be considered normal.

The “longer lasting” content Pilestedt has in mind may be what comes next: Arrowhead's long-term plan for keeping Helldivers 2 players coming back. Maybe a big twist in the war? Radically different stratagems? The long-awaited vehicle update? It wouldn't take much to get my friends excited to jump back in.


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