It's fair to say that Payday 3 hasn't had the smoothest of launches, but then it was never the easiest of sells. Payday 2 came out in 2013 and amassed a dedicated following, then Payday 3 came along and, on the surface at least, didn't seem to change an enormous amount about how the game worked but committed the cardinal sin of going live service and then… nothing. Since launch there have been plenty of complaints about its offering but only one minor patch, leaving players wondering what exactly was going on.
Well, Starbreeze producer Andreas Häll-Penninger calls this "the elephant in the room" and says "to make a long, complicated and technical story short we found a critical error in our backend update pipeline. As a result of this, there was a significant risk that any update we made could affect the player saves and progression.
"We have no reason to want to delay updates for this long. It was frustrating for both us, and you, the players, that the launch went the way it did. We've taken the necessary steps to ensure that our updates will not cause more problems than they fix."
Which is all well and good: though you wonder why the studio wasn't upfront about this in the first place. It has clearly realised that the crowd wants some red meat, however, and so that's what this dev update delivers: later this month Payday 3 will receive its first major free update, featuring the return of fan-favourite Locke as mission co-ordinator, alongside the return of two re-worked heists from Payday 2.
Alongside this there's a new skill line focused on moving bags more efficiently, which may not sound terribly exciting but is a core component: in Payday you move the loot in giant duffel bags and, ever since a trailer shot showed a character carrying two at once, players have wanted the option to do so themselves. There's also a rework of the game's challenge system, which the update doesn't go into enormous detail on.
My favourite part of this dev update by far, however, is when they announce there's some new music alongside the returning heists. This means the video cuts to Starbreeze composer Gustavo Coutinho in front of his PC, and it's clearly after he's just been told to "look like you're composing some music" and obligingly bobs away in front of the screen.
Humour aside, Payday 3 needs to get its house in order and bring players back on-side. The initial reaction to its announcement was focused on how similar it was to Payday 2, which was seen as a good thing, but this has curdled after launch as players unfavourably compare the two experiences.
Given Payday 2 has enjoyed a decade of post-launch support that's hardly fair, but them's the breaks. Payday 3 currently has just under 700 concurrent players on Steam: Payday 2 has 10,000. Part of that is legacy of course, and simply a lot more players already owning the latter title. But it does highlight what a bumpy transition this has been and, so far, an unsuccessful one.