Late last year, we covered several episodes of a rift that had begun to form in the community for Overkill Software’s cooperative First-Person Shooter, Payday 2. Here’s a quick summary of the events that transpired: last October, Overkill (whose parent company is Starbreeze Studios) began implementing loot chests in Payday 2, which contained items like weapon skins.
These chests could only be opened by purchasing Drills from an in-game marketplace for $2.49 a piece. Due to the fact that the items contained within the loot crates could provide valuable stat boosts to weapons, a sizeable portion of Payday 2’s userbase exploded in outrage over the fact that Overkill had essentially created a microtransaction “pay to win” market, in which players who paid real money for their gear had significant advantages over those who didn’t wish to pay.
Some of these players channeled their furor to form a Steam group called The Vocal Minority, which began compiling a list of Overkill’s ‘offenses’ regarding microtransactions. Figureheads from The Vocal Minority then engaged in a series of Skype meetings with Overkill’s lead Producer, Almir Listo, to discuss the Payday 2 community’s demands and its general displeasure with the loot crate debacle.
This came as an especial shock to the Payday 2 community, as its creators had said before the game’s release that they would not partake in microtransactions.
Over the next several months, The Vocal Minority went through shifts in its leadership and grew a little less vocal, in spite of its continued meetings with Overkill staff. Life has continued to go on in the world of Payday 2, though its once nearly 30k-strong playerbase has dropped to a humble 7,000 players in recent months (keep in mind that many of the game’s players could also just be participating in its Open Beta, the population of which is currently not tracked).
But the efforts of angry Payday 2 players might finally be paying off. Starbreeze Studios member Maeva made a blog post on Starbreeze’s official website late yesterday, which announced that Starbreeze will fully acquire the rights to Payday 2 from its publisher, 505 Games.
After the transaction Starbreeze will own the full rights to the PAYDAY-franchise for any future developments or commercialization, including PAYDAY 2 and PAYDAY for mobile platforms. Starbreeze will retain full net revenue from PAYDAY 2 on the Steam platform starting retroactively from May 1st, 2016. Revenue generated by the console game PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition will continue to be split between the companies as before, and 505 Games will continue to publish the title.
Overkill’s Listo, meanwhile, shared the news on Payday 2’s official Steam page.
Listo included a video that shares what many fans deem to be the best Payday 2 news in a long, long time: Drills will cease to exist in Payday 2 as of Update 100 this Thursday! This means that any loot crates that drop will be able to be opened for free. Like Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, these crates will still be able to be traded on the Steam marketplace.
A video that details the update – as narrated by Listo – can be viewed below:
In addition to the removal of the Drill system, Listo shared with the Payday 2 community that Overkill is committed to continue working on the game for at least another 18 months. At that point, Payday 2 will have received constant updates for an impressive five years.
“Community Grenades” will also be added to the game. Previously, grenades were only accessible through a DLC package. Now, all players will have access to throwable explosives.
Listo also announced that Overkill thanks its players for their continued feedback and support. The team will go into the future with an open ear to its fans, and will be committed to addressing fan concerns.
The video ends on a trailer that continues Payday 2’s live-action narrative saga. It’s also a teaser for content that will be discussed at this year’s E3.
As for The Vocal Minority? Its members seem mostly pleased.
A rare case of upset gamers turning happy, it seems. Some are quick to point out, though, that Overkill’s move to get rid of the Drill system is a few months too late to completely salvage Payday 2’s reputation. Others note that this move is a hopeful start for the game’s future.
It’s unknown how much of a role 505 Games played in implementing Payday 2’s microtransaction practices. We’ve since reached out to Starbreeze Studios for an inquiry.
Payday 2’s Update 100 goes live this Thursday. Listo and several other Overkill members will be hosting an AMA on Payday 2’s Reddit this Friday to discuss the future of the game. If you have any questions you’d like to ask Overkill for the AMA, you can do so here.
If you’re a longtime Payday 2 player and would like a more nuanced summary of just what has been added to the game since last October’s Crimefest Update, you can visit this list here.