Last month, we reported on fan outrage over Overkill Software’s decision to include microtransactions in their cooperative bank heist shooter, Payday 2, despite previous assurances by Overkill developers that the game would never feature paid extra content. Overkill Producer Almir Listo had posted an AMA on Reddit in response to players’ concerns, where he explained that microtransactions were necessary to allow the game to grow. Mr. Listo’s response seemed to have done little to quell his angry audience. Now, players and even the game’s own Steam moderators have taken matters into their own hands with a more direct, yet civil, approach to the microtransaction debacle.
In what is likely to be the first of many correspondences with Overkill’s development team, Payday 2 community moderators held a Skype discussion with Listo earlier this morning at 6:00 PM CET, which was broadcast on Twitch.tv. This interview is in light of a recent DLC pack released by Overkill last week called the Completely Overkill Pack, which contained weapon skins – which were originally advertised as purely cosmetic – that provide players with passive experience gain boosts and other statistical advantages. The release of these content packs angered fans, and even prompted community moderator Ashley to respond with the following statement:
I like to believe that i am not unreasonable but unfortunately the situation constantly degraded. We will no longer refuse to work if we are given a public interview with a member of Overkill. We want to be heard and see what Overkill are willing to do to fix the situation.
If Overkill decides to let us go as moderators it’s something we are prepared for, i personally cannot sit by when they continue to promote immoral business practices. I felt the skins system needed work but could function. The recent safe update showed against that.
Listo agreed to a public interview with Ashley and several other moderators. At the beginning of the interview, Listo explained that the Overkill team feels the Completely Overkill update is “a great update […] However, what we [Overkill] don’t think is great is how we announced it.” Ashley then stated that much of the 50,000 strong Payday 2 community, though, finds the $20 purchase unacceptable. Listo responded that Overkill is planning to compensate unhappy players, and that the development team will move forward by improving communication with the Payday 2 community.
Many players, however, don’t seem to be convinced by Mr. Listo’s responses.
The full interview is nearly two hours long, and can be viewed here.
In addition to the moderator talks, disgruntled Payday 2 players created a Steam group earlier this week called The Vocal Minority, which aims to provide Payday 2 players with a community where they can voice solidarity on Overkill’s decision to implement microtransactions. The group has gained over a thousand members in the past week, and continues to grow as player unrest intensifies after today’s Listo interview.
If Overkill manages to reach an accord with Payday 2’s moderators and community, the exchange could serve as a lesson for future developers who seek to balance gaining a profit with maintaining close communities ties. But the Completely Overkill pack marks a second blunder in Overkill’s marketing campaign. Winning back the trust of Payday 2’s playerbase will be no easy task, and only time will tell how the studio will recover from their mistakes.