PAYDAY is a series that focuses on cooperative first-person action gameplay that revolves around robbery, tasking teams of players to take on heists of banks, jewelry stores, and other high-stakes venues. It's also had an infamous life on Xbox consoles.
For almost a decade, the game has seen two distinct iterations of the same property abandoned after the developers said they never would. Leaving players out to dry on a product of shattered promises. With PAYDAY 3 announced for launch on September 21, 2023, can we, or even I, trust them again?
More talking, less patching
On August 13th, 2013, PAYDAY 2 was released on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 to generally promising reviews. Overkill and Starbreeze, the developers of the PAYDAY series, created what many would consider a highly successful sequel to the original game. Nearly a decade later, PAYDAY 2 still reigns supreme on Steam's top 30 most-played games. Striking a daily high player total of 54,000. Nevertheless, that's only Steam, a narrow slice of the overall narrative.
Between the PC and Xbox renditions, each platform was given varying amounts of content. PC was the apparent love child of Overkill, as they would go on to release a current total of 82 separate pieces of DLC on the platform for PAYDAY 2. The majority of these came years later to console versions or, worse, never came at all.
PAYDAY 2 would go without an update for nearly ten months until patch 1.04 on PlayStation 3. Xbox 360 users had to wait an additional four months, making their wait time well over a full year after the game became available. Users griped during this entire drought across Reddit and Twitter alike. They were mercilessly campaigning for a shot of life into the title, which possessed game-breaking bugs and contentless landscapes on their console versions.
When in doubt, trash your fans
Melanie Schneider, the community manager of PAYDAY 2 at the time, replied to one user with nightmarish retorts that would make any social media manager cringe. After one user called for updates to the game on Twitter, she responded, "The point in any business is to make business. Things get cut. Things can go different. Thats life. Get done with it." An ostensibly older version of "touch grass kid."
The user responded, "When you buy something, you expect it to be working 100% right. Well, PAYDAY 2 is far from 100%; it's broke on consoles."
Melanie retorted, "If a game I really love isn't working on consoles, I'd switch to other platforms and [expletive] play it there."
You can fill in the brackets yourself, it's easy to extrapolate the word she employed, but the fact remains; Starbreeze and Overkill seemed to care little about their game's console audience. In fact, one could reason they loathed them by the community managers' reaction. If that's your best foot forward publicly for your audience, you need new shoes.
Maybe another game will fix this
To answer this content deficiency, rather than update the current game, Overkill would go on to release a next-gen version of PAYDAY 2 dubbed, PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition, for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in 2015. In turn, they completely ditched the previous console communities. According to the developers, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions would never see another update, noting technological difficulties.
"In connection with this, we have decided to retire the PAYDAY 2 update development on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We wish we could provide more updates. For a long time, we've been looking at how we could add more updates from a technical standpoint. Sadly, we now understand that it's impossible to continue doing so."
In the same post, they answered whether they'd update these new versions, "Our ambition is to support both platforms as long as technically possible." Surely this means the new version would receive PC parity or some semblance of it, right? Maybe even balance updates? It's a mixed bag, as it took an absolutely laughable 450 days after PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition was launched before any significant game update arrived. This patch coincided with the Big Score DLC, which added weapons, weapon mods, heists, and more. Before this, the Xbox One version's matchmaking was unplayable. It took a staggering three months before any word of a fix came.
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions would end up accommodating a total of ten updates that would come to a halt in 2019, compared to 199 updates on PC. The developer announced that it was halting updates due to technical difficulties once more. This time it included ending updates of the neglected Switch version.
Even exploring Google or Bing for the "PAYDAY 2 console patch" results in numerous hits of protests, jokes about the creators, and more. You'll only know which arrangement of the game they're griping about once you can line up a year corresponding to the post. That's a monumental public relations problem.
As a former console PAYDAY player, having purchased that original copy on Xbox 360 and having to read a community manager telling me to "expletive" play it elsewhere. I remember posting to subreddits, telling them to remember what they had said when the Crimewave editions were announced. Then a few years later, they abandoned them again anyways! I'm part of that scorned audience.
Why break one promise when you can break more?
For months before the game's release, the developers at Overkill were on the record saying that microtransactions would never come to the game. In an interview with Gamespot in May of 2013, lead designer David Goldfarb was asked if Overkill Software anticipated putting microtransactions in the game; Goldfarb stated, "No. No. God, I hope not. Never. No." This statement came only three months before release.
Before that, Overkill took to the Steam forums saying, "The Steam page for PAYDAY 2 has been updated based on your feedback. We've made it clear that PAYDAY 2 will have no micro-transactions whatsoever (shame on you if you thought otherwise!), and we've made it more clear that the PAYDAY loot bag is part of the Career Criminal Edition as well."
In a turn that I'm sure the reader could never guess, they ignored themselves by adding safes to the game's PC version in 2015. These "definitely-not-loot-crates" could be opened via drills that the player had to purchase separately. Earn a drop and pay more to feel rewarded!
They made it worse, too; I'm not kidding. The skins they added weren't simple cosmetic items. They had stat effects as well. Overkill and Starbreeze somehow turned a cooperative shooter into a pay-to-win game. A game that was promised never to have microtransactions, now had game-altering weapon skins. Good job!
This system went so poorly that they reworked it less than a year later in 2016, deleting drills from the game and allowing players to open new safes that dropped freely. They limited these drops to roughly one safe a week and allowed players to buy safes directly in the shop.
Will Payday 3 be different?
So what does this all mean for PAYDAY 3? Will the console versions eventually be abandoned due to technical difficulties? Will they end up adding stat-boosting pay-to-win gear? Will they receive patches on time? At least, according to their PAYDAY 3 FAQ, these issues won't be a problem.
Let's start with the quality of post-launch support for the console release.
On June 22nd, they restated this fact in a video that communicated their promise to address this issue. Almir Listo, the Global Brand director, stated, "The history of the console editions of PAYDAY 2 is the rockiest of roads we have had, right? Cause we were speaking of bumps in the road, and I think our console heister are the ones that have gotten the brunt of it, really. And I think it's super unfortunate because the fact is they do not deserve it. On the contrary, it's our fault historically, whether it's been technical challenges that we've had as a studio, an inability essentially to deliver them the experience they want.
Craig McLeod, Executive Producer on PAYDAY 3 since 2022, expressed, "So how are we working with consoles now? I mean, consoles are, you know, first and foremost in our minds because we're very conscious of the fact that they were dropped previously. We are committed to making sure that all of our releases are across PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X and S. You'll notice that when I'm saying this, I'm saying we're only on the latest generation of consoles, and there's a reason for this. The reason is, because we realized that to create the best version of the game that we could, we want to be on the latest technology."
As for pay-to-win skins? That's a no, so far. However, there will be cosmetic items according to the FAQ, "You can buy PAYDAY Credits separately, however these are only for purchasing additional cosmetic items. These will not affect the gameplay. The PAYDAY Credits will be added post launch." Boy, do I love buying in-game currency to buy in-game items.
Do you believe them? In an industry rife with delays, shattered assurances, and bug-ridden releases, what makes a developer with a history of all these matters trustworthy? Actions speak loud than words, and it's on Overkill and Starbreeze to come out to rebuild the bridges they've burned along the way. I, for one, won't be sold on release, and my only participation in the title will be via Xbox Game Pass. Overkill will not earn my money through their planned monetized cosmetic shop, or any DLC for that matter until they've proven content parity and patches across all platforms. Even if I have to wait years for them to prove it.
With all that said, I wish them the best of luck because all I want is to play a game that's given the devotion and backing it was initially pledged. Prove us wrong, please, as a fan, speaking for Payday fans everywhere. Could you give us all the same game?
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Michael has been gaming since he was five when his mother first bought a Super Nintendo from Blockbuster. Having written for a now-defunct website in the past, he's joined Windows Central as a contributor to spreading his 30+ years of love for gaming with everyone he can. His favorites include Red Dead Redemption, all the way to the controversial Dark Souls 2.