For me, Payday 2 has always felt free-to-play, despite it’s current $19.99 price tag. That in itself doesn’t make me special, but it does offer an interesting perspective – doubly so when it comes to Payday’s recent inclusion of microtransactions. During this year’s Crimefest, an event designed to drum up new players for the game, Overkill Studios added a new mechanic: safes. This addition caused outrage in the community, such that it really has to be seen to be believed.

In fact, Overkill’s actions – particularly over the last few months – since Payday 2’s release indicate a trend of disrespect and contempt for the game’s fanbase. From “baby mode” to the death of pd2stats.com, it’s a testament to Payday 2’s outstanding quality that the community has only now started to react to Overkill’s actions in a big way. And reacting they are –  the game’s Steam store page alone is flooded with negative reviews from people with 4-digit playtimes, some having upwards of ten-thousand helpful votes.

The road Overkill took to get to this point was a long, tumultuous one – here I’ll do my best to explain how the game got to where it is, but lots of stuff will surely be omitted given the sheer amount of bullshittery the company’s partaken in.

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Cross-Platform Parity

Payday 2 on console can’t even compare to what the game is like on PC. Normally I’d argue this is because PC is an inherently better platform, but dedicated consoles didn’t even have a chance. Last-generation consoles were officially abandoned a little over a year ago, and even before then they didn’t even resemble the PC version in terms of content; so much so that after transitioning to the PC version during Crimefest, about ten of the twenty hours I spent playing were solely coming to grips with a game I’ve been playing for eighteen months on PS3. The same holds true of even the current-gen versions of the game, which are tens of updates behind and totally broken on Xbox One.

Safes and Downloadable Content

As I mentioned earlier, safes were added to the game during Crimefest 2015. At $2.49 a pop, you can buy drills to open up these safes for weapon skins. But these aren’t just cosmetic – they actually alter the stats of the weapon they’re used on. Although their effects are minimal, some players are still calling it a pay-to-win system. More players are just mad that Overkill has gone back on multiple promises that the game won’t feature microtransactions.

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It’s certainly not going over well,  but I honestly see little harm in this aside from the fact that safes are disrupting the existing drop system. Normally, after a mission you’re able to pick from three cards and receive a random bonus – some money, a mask, weapon mods, what have you. This is still the case, but at as-yet-unknown intervals you’ll end up with a safe or a drill, although in typical Fee-to-Pay form the latter is far, far less likely to drop. For anybody not willing to pay, this can basically break the loot system in-game. Compounding the issue is the fact that all of the game’s previous DLC is directly tied into this system in the same way. That means if you have no DLC it’s actually possible to get a safe, which you have to pay for, which then gives you a skin for a weapon that you also have to pay for. 

DLC Integration

At this point, the biggest problem with Payday 2 is its DLC practices, which make Evolve look like a paragon of consumer friendliness by comparison. There are roughly 27 paid DLC packs now in Payday 2, and it’s nigh impossible to tell what you need, what’s fluff, and what’s accessible in the base game. There’s no season pass and even buying the Game of the Year version will only net you about ⅔ of it all.  As such, the limitations imposed upon players without it make purchasing DLC almost necessary. Like to snipe? Better grab your wallet, because that whole class of weapons is DLC content. All other categories have non-DLC counterparts, but even then the amount of DLC-added weapons is usually equal to or greater than the number of non-DLC weapons. It’s absolutely daunting for new players, who are more or less expected to shell out $130 to get a complete experience.

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Public Relations

Overkill’s also made some major PR mistakes, aside from everything mentioned previously. Way back when the game launched, multiple current and former Overkill employees stated that the game didn’t have microtransactions and never would. Of course, we know how that turned out.

Much more important is the company’s treatment of players publicly. Have you ever heard of pd2stats.com? The site was a way for the community to keep track of its stats until it was phased out by the addition of FBI Files in the game.Overkill explicitly told the site’s administrator that this would not be the case, and after months of being ignored by the company, pd2stats finally met its demise. To Overkill’s credit, they’ve recently taken the blame for this but it seems to have done little to make the community feel better.

To chronicle all of Overkill’s insults to the community is a herculean task; the list seemingly goes on for days and days. Here’s OVERKILL BO trolling players on the steam forums, and a lovely screencap of an Overkill employee telling a fan to switch platforms to play a functional version of the game. If that’s not enough, here’s a Steam megathread detailing tons of issues I couldn’t even begin to deal with here.

Of course, what article on Overkill would be complete without Payday 2 producer Almir Listo’s AMA on Sunday? Lots of important discussion was had, although little actual progress was made. On the subject of microtransactions, Almir confirmed there were no plans to remove them whatsoever. Specifically, his response was, “We understand that there is a lot of fury, anger and disappointment with us adding this. From an economical standpoint however, completely based on statistics, we can already see that the Black Market update is working as we intended. Going forward, we hope we can convince the parts of the community that resist this change that this was the right decision to do to ensure the stability of OVERKILL as an independent developer and the future growth of PAYDAY 2.” 

56 of 64 melee weapons are downloadable content.

56 of 64 melee weapons are downloadable content.

After all is said and done, the worst part about Overkill’s treatment of Payday 2 is the fact that I love it. It’s indisputably one of my favorite First-Person Shooters ever, and yet as desperately as I wanted to gobble up the game and all its DLC during the Crimefest sale I could not bring myself to do it. There’s little justification for me, and more importantly anyone else, to support Overkill and its treatment of its community and its own creation.

About The Author

Contributor

Dakota is a lover of all things fiction from all parts of the world from Midwestern America. He's currently trying to figure out how computers work while globetrotting across the internet as a freelance writer, and he's also got the best war face we've seen since Doomguy started faffing about.

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