Folks may never tire of a good heist story, and that's something that developers Overkill and publisher Starbreeze can stake the future of their businesses on. With thousands of players still regularly loading up 2013's Payday 2, there's definitely an audience out there for a sequel, and over the weekend, Overkill and Starbreeze gave an update on where Payday 3 development is at after all these years.
Payday 3 surfaced after a long silence with some brief details on Twitter. In summary, the sequel is still being worked on; right now, it's in the "design phase" of development, so there's no release date set at the moment (though a 2022 or 2023 launch may be the target). Also, it'll be switching over to the Unreal Engine, after initially being planned for Payday 2's Diesel 2.0.
The future of the Payday series was, at least for a while, thrown out of whack by financial troubles with Overkill and Starbreeze. In late 2018, after a dysfunctional development cycle that saw Overkill abandon a different game engine in favor of Unreal, Starbreeze released Overkill's The Walking Dead, which didn't fare well critically or commercially. Starbreeze entered reconstruction a short while later and went on to lay off 60 of its then 240-person staff about six months later. During the reconstruction, Starbreeze also sold the publishing rights for System Shock 3 back to its developers.
Once reconstruction was complete, Starbreeze looked to Payday to help energize its continued recovery. In October of last year, Starbreeze announced that it would restart development on Payday 2 while abandoning its forever-free DLC model, instead charging for new content. The first new paid expansion, the Border Crossing Heist, was released a month later.
Not long after that, Starbreeze CEO Mikael Nermark said that making Payday games is now the company's "core business" and that he anticipated reaching a publishing agreement for a sequel within the first half of 2020.
There's still no word of whether Starbreeze has landed a publishing partner for Payday 3, but at least for now, the sequel is officially on its way. Heists almost never go off without a hitch in the movies, and after a few years of setbacks, maybe now will mark the moment when the Payday 3 plan starts to come together.