The first day of this year’s Crimefest arrived and with it Overkill unveiled its new microtransaction system. At the end of a successful heist, players are presented with three cards from which to choose and receive a random reward (a mask component, a weapon mod, or a cash/XP bonus). Added to these was a new safe card that gave the player a random special safe, which contained a random weapon skin. Some of these skins carried special perks, like adding +4 to a gun’s stability, and varied in their rarity. However, these safes could only be opened, initially, through the purchase of a particular safe drill for $2.50. That already caused many to raise an eyebrow. Then one has to consider the random factor (where you could receive a skin for a gun you only acquire via paid DLC) and a recent rebalancing of all weapons (thereby making the perks that much more desirable).
To Overkill, the system seemed like a fun, optional addition to the game that wouldn’t have that big of an impact due to title's strictly PvE nature. “There are plenty of reasons you could argue to why [that system] is and isn't ok in our game,” Almir told me. “I think it's ok because it doesn't take away from the experience. If you and I play together, and you have stat boosts on your weapon, in no way am I negatively affected by that.” What’s more, if you got a skin for a gun you don’t have or don’t use, you could always trade it on the marketplace. To the PAYDAY 2 veterans and fervent fans, however, it was a slap in the face.
Overkill had already asked its community for financial support once this year and questions were still lingering about how that money got spent and what happened to the tournament with the $250,000 prize. In the eyes of many, the new microtransaction system was little more than the developer “being greedy” and asking for more money; and this a mere six months after they already did just that without delivering everything that was promised. Adding insult to injury was the way in which it was revealed; almost as a kind of reward for the effort that the community put in during the Road to Crimefest event.
The Steam Community forums and reddit lit up with posts decrying Overkill for their greed and shady practices. Many of these pointed to a statement Almir made two years prior that clarified how the loot systems within the game would work. At that time, Almir stated “that PAYDAY 2 will have no micro-transactions whatsoever.” A few days after the new feature was revealed, drill cards were added to the card drops so players could open the safes without having to pay for them, but the damage was done. For some, nothing less than the completely and utter destruction of Overkill would suffice. For others, they were willing to forgive Overkill if they just removed the microtransaction system altogether. Almir responded to the community via a reddit AMA, but rather than calm the situation, it only fanned the flames more. A parody site, Road from Greedfest, was launched that mimicked the "Road to Crimefest" page, and offered its own challenges to the community to drop the game's Steam and Metacritic score.
Two weeks after all of this, Overkill announced the “secret reward” for those folks who purchased the Completely Overkill Pack. It was a special safe containing a random weapon skin that is unique to that safe. Much like those released previously, these skins could have a random weapon perk as well as a new feature introduced alongside the reward, team boosts. Essentially, players with these skins on their gun would provide the whole team a boost in either the amount of experience or cash received for successfully completing a heist. The more players in a crew with these types of skins applied, the greater the boost. In hindsight, Almir and the rest of the development team that the entire concept of the Completely Overkill Pack and its reward was a bad idea. “At the end of the day, it was a bad campaign because we left people angry and we left people disappointed,” Almir said. “That's the thing that sucks the most for us, that we've let down a portion of our community that has been very supportive of us as a developer and that has genuinely loved our game and loved spending time as a part of this community.”
At the time, though, Overkill still wasn’t communicating any of this to those members of the community that needed to hear it. Death threats were being sent not only to the developer, but to the volunteer moderators, who were fans of the game themselves. The moderators agreed with much of what the community had to say regarding Overkill’s recent actions and went on strike. In a recorded Skype call between the moderators and Almir, the Swedish developer finally spoke to its community directly and apologized for much of what they had done and the way they went about it. The microtransaction system, however, was not going away. For a portion of the community, that marked the end of their time with PAYDAY 2.