The Story of PAYDAY 2 and Microtransactions - Part 2 - Page 2

The source of that disconnect, from his perspective, was due to Overkill’s workload. In the midst of the Hype Train event, PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One was announced. Porting the game over to the current generation consoles would no doubt require some of the team’s manpower to get that done in time for the initially slated June 2015 release (this would later be pushed back to August). There was also the new title the team was working on, Overkill's The Walking Dead, meaning the 45 person development team was working on one new game, developing new content for and updating an existing one, and shifting that existing title over to new platforms.

This was a new challenge for the studio. “We pride ourselves in doing the stuff we do, as good as possible, and as a studio we've never been in a situation where we have to make two games at once,” Almir told me. “On the one hand, you have Payday 2 that's getting a lot of updates every month. And on the other you have [Overkill's] The Walking Dead, which is going to be... a very defining moment for us. It's been an increasing workload where we've been too proud and saying, 'no, we've got this' and maybe we needed more people to help us.” Regardless of the reason, they still weren’t communicating this to the people that were supporting them.

The PAYDAY 2 community, however, wasn't as thrilled with the new game. The big reveal the previous summer did not go over so well, due in part to the way the game was teased (a countdown timer that lead to another timer and then yet another timer) and in part due to the developer tying it in some with PAYDAY 2 (leading to disappointment when it wasn't). Without any kind of information about where that Hype Train money went, many believed that it was being used to help fund development on this new title. While it is not unusual for a developer to use revenue from one successful title to help with the development of another, the presentation of the Hype Train event pointed it towards providing more content for PAYDAY 2, not this new venture.

The seeds of discontent were sown. Throughout the rest of the summer, members of the PAYDAY 2 community began losing even more faith in the game and the developer that they once supported and were greeting each new announcement of paid DLC or other content with more and more skepticism and questions about where the money went. Meanwhile, Overkill continued working on bringing the title over to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (which had issues of its own, once launched) while adding more content to the PC version. Eventually, however, they decided that continuing down the path of releasing paid DLC every couple of months just wouldn’t cut it. Different options were discussed, but the only model that would fit their needs and allow them to provide content in the way they wanted was microtransactions.

There were different options that we were looking into but with any pro there's a con, usually. What we felt was that we can't introduce more DLCs because what we had been starting to do since the end of last year was that we introduced playable characters that you could buy for $5 and they were often linked story-wise, and also content-wise, with a heist; so you bought of them separately. So you bought the heist for $7 and the character for $5, a total of $12, basically. We noticed already then that there were a lot of hardcore members of the community who were like 'hey, wait a minute, this is a lot of DLC being released at the same time.' So imagine, you know, if we tried to introduce a third DLC at some point like that or a third DLC concept. We felt that we needed to find some different route in order to continue doing that.

- Almir Listo, producer, Overkill

From Overkill’s perspective, the underlying principle of this system would be akin to the Hype Train event, i.e., some members of the community would pay for set content and through that additional content could be developed and released for free to the entire community. “In one way, it was similar to DLC, but also we felt that it's not that big of a deal,” Almir said. “If people want to participate, then they're free to do that. Our thinking was that Payday 2 is equally as enjoyable of an experience with microtransactions as it is without… The purpose of introducing another way for us to make money out of Payday is to make sure that every player has a better experience down the road. So by introducing another route for us to make money, we can actually improve the experience for everyone.” With the decision made, all that was left was to reveal the system and implement it. Overkill was confident that the system would be accepted by the community and they would understand the reasoning behind it. As before, though, communication failed and this time, it was a major failure.

As September came to a close, Overkill kicked off a new event, “The Road to Crimefest.” Rather than have people sign up for the PAYDAY 2 Steam Community to unlock new rewards/content like last year’s Crimefest, Overkill switched to getting that community more actively involved by playing the game. By using certain characters to complete heists, defeat specific foes, and a variety of other objectives, players would unlock rewards that would be revealed during Crimefest 2015. The community once again rose to the challenge and unlocked all rewards.