A year ago, Payday 2 development concluded as it seemed Overkill and Starbreeze were ready to move on to the next thing. But after a year of financial woes for Starbreeze, the studio has undergone a "purgatory fire" and is resuming production of Payday 2 DLC, which includings going back on some of its promises about forever-free content.
In a blog post from Starbreeze CEO Mikael Nermark, the publisher and studio head goes over recent troubles the company has gone through. Late 2018 saw Starbreeze in acute liquidity shortfall, and in December of last year, the company went through reconstruction; Nermark compares it to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US. "On December 3rd, we only had projected cash reserves to run the company until mid-January 2019," Nermark writes.
Add on a sizeable number of layoffs, the cancellation of Overkill's The Walking Dead, and a raid from the Swedish authorities, and you can see Starbreeze was in a tough place. In resuming development on Payday 2, Overkill and Starbreeze seem to be attempting to return to what's worked for them in the past, albeit with some changes.
Nermark confirms that Overkill and the Payday team is working on the first of new updates to the game, which had originally concluded development in 2018. He also says that a la carte DLC will be re-introduced, so legacy content will be available to purchase on a piece-by-piece basis; but those who have purchased the Ultimate Edition, billed as the "forever-free" option for Payday 2 DLC, will have their versions changed to a "Legacy Edition" and have to start paying for future content.
"To get it out of the door immediately; yes, I know we’re breaking a promise," Nermark says. "We do not do so with ease or take this lightly."
The promise of the Ultimate Edition was to "get everything Payday 2 in a package, until we release the next installment of Payday." But now, as it seems like Payday 2 is the future and the studio is in need of some cash flow, Nermark says they're breaking the promise of forever-free.
"We want to move forward and make more of Payday 2, and to do so we need your support to continue producing content," Nermark says. "New DLCs will be a mix of paid and free updates."
You can see which content will still be bundled in the Legacy Collection on Payday 2's Steam store page, and the price will still be discounted if you own some pieces of content already. Whether Payday 2 can actually fix Starbreeze's woes, it seems like the hopes are pinned at least somewhat on the co-op heist shooter. It was a fixture for years in online co-op gaming, and at least for now, it will have to be the future of the series as Overkill and Starbreeze try to bail out enough water to stay afloat.