Microtransaction Mishap: Payday 2’s ‘Safe’ Skin Tweak

We can be fairly certain that affordable time travel won’t exist within our lifetimes because Payday 2 [official site] developers Overkill Software evidently haven’t travelled back to last week and erase their mistake of adding microtransactions to unlock more-powerful versions of guns. If they had, memories of CS:GO-style weapon crates and keys concealing a random selection of garish weapon skins with better stats would fade away. No, clearly we don’t have time travel, because instead they’re now fiddling with the heist FPS’s safe system a bit, trying to placate riled-up players.

Heisters can now earn keys (or ‘drills’, in its terminology) to unlock crates (‘safes’) for free as they play, rather than having to buy or trade for them. It’s a start.

To briefly recap: last week, Overkill added ‘safes’ which contain a random new weapon skin from a selection, which make the gun look fancy but could also have stats that were simply better than their unskinned original form. They’re not massively better, but they’re better. These safes were randomly dropped as heist rewards in the place of actually useful unlocks, and initially cost £2-ish to open. Paying real money for a chance to randomly get a better weapon is a bummer, especially considering Overkill had once said Payday 2 wouldn’t have microtransactions.

So! The development: a patch yesterday included this change:

“Added Drills to the Card Loot Drop reward table. Players can now be rewarded with Drills that can open Safes after successfully completing a heist.”

It’s a start, but they’re still hiding the game’s best guns away behind something they hope you’ll pay real money to bypass. I’d suggest they also remove the stat boosts from skins and make them purely cosmetic, make safes and drills come in addition to regular heist reward loot, then apologise for this shoddy nonsense. Cosmetic skins in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are big business so it’s not like Overkill don’t have a good role model.

This change comes as Payday 2 continues to roll through its ten days of updates for the Crimefest event, which so far has added new weapons, new masks, a remake of a classic Payday map, and a new heist set after an earthquake.

The game’s on sale too, down to £3.74. It really is quite good, this tomfoolery aside. Though it was a bit weird when it went Wild West-y.


  1. Bull0 says:

    The most galling thing about it is some of the loot skins are for guns that are already themselves DLC, so to unlock them you’d need to buy a key (or grind Ukrainian Job until you get a key drop, I guess) AND buy the DLC pack the gun itself is in.

    The whole thing is just fucking cack-handed

    • FLoJ says:

      I find the rage about tiny stat increases hilarious…

      If you can’t beat the game without those small assists then sure go ahead and pay some money. In that respect, it’s microtransactions done right – it gives players a shortcut to the ‘endgame’ instead of having to improve at playing.

      If anything, much of the previous paid for content was HUGELY more beneficial to players than the insignificant stat increases offered by these new skins but very few people batted an eyelid back when those were released (some people did moan though). For example the RPG, grenade launcher and sniper rifles all make killing specials completely trivial.

      If it was a PvP game then yes it would be pay to win because people would be disadvantaged against their opponents unless they paid in for the best content.
      BUT in a PvE game where the endgame content HAS already been beaten by good players without using any of the DLC at all, all your doing is getting a shortcut.

      But meh, moan at the devs for wanting to run a business.

      • KDR_11k says:

        There’s the rightful worry that paid power will influence the game balance: The devs are incentivized to balance the game so it’s fair when you have all the paid powerups and almost impossible when you don’t pay extra. That encourages people to pay more.

        That problem already exists with the DLC, many later changes seem geared towards players with DLC. E.g. the turret enemy is extra vulnerable to fire weapons… which are DLC only. The captain is best attacked with explosives… which are DLC only.

        Additionally there was a big balance revamp at the same time as the MTs were added that massively reduced weapon accuracies across the board. When “premium” weapons have accuracy boosts that looks really suspicious.

        • Bull0 says:

          But they’re just trying to run a BUSINESS, you’re so hilarious for not sucking this down man, lol.

        • LionsPhil says:

          The weapon rebalance is a much, much less arguably reason to be mad. It’s severely broken the game—dozers aren’t scary any more becuase a few pistol shots to the head will taken them down.

      • CMaster says:

        “But meh, moan at the devs for wanting to run a business”

        Except PD2 already makes Starbreeze/Overkill enough money to cover most of their ongoing costs, with the (slightly shady) DLC churn and ongoing sales of the core game. And they don’t plan to let up on those, either. So this is an attempt to milk the game (which lots of players have already sunk a lot of money in to) even harder, while delivering in-game advantages behind a shady gambling system.

      • Bull0 says:

        I’m obviously “moaning” about it because I “need” the stat boosts to “beat” the game. That’s the right take-home from my comment. Wait, no, the other thing. Totally unrelated to anything I said.

        I just think it’s crappy design intended to rinse players for cash. I’ve bought a lot of the DLC and would continue to do so but I find the gambling blind-box thing with the safes utterly distasteful, and the fact that the rewards garner an in-game advantage and not just cosmetics is the icing on the shitty cake.

        Find it hilarious all you want, I don’t know enough about you to find anything you say or do at all funny – for all I know you only say things like this, and I don’t really find “saying stupid things” particularly funny.

        • Gormongous says:

          They’ve already been testing the waters with other bullshit “businesses exist to make money” practices. Remember the much-hated Hype Train event, where Overkill asked fans to show their love of the game by buying two million dollars’ worth of DLC? Remember how one of the DLCs was a twenty-dollar mask pack that was effectively marketed as a “gift” to Overkill?

          People put up with stuff like that because they assumed it was all going to make the game better, but here we are months later and it looks like it all went to help them transition to an even more exploitative model of doing business. Hey everyone, keep playing the game in the hopes that the RNG for a safe and the RNG for a drill line up to let you test the RNG for a skin you want on a gun you own! Wow, sounds like fun, eh?

  2. slerbal says:

    Yeah, no. F**k those guys. I’m done with Payday 2 and Overkill. The game now is most definitely not the one I paid for and that really winds me up, it feels like a bait and switch.

    • Paxeh says:

      You’re not the only one buddy. I’m not going to deal with them ever again – I was wary after the countless DLC packages, but this stuff just ruined the deal for me. I wish them all the best in their future business with people who have enough disposable income for this kind of cash milking.

  3. Ethaor says:

    Meanwhile the Steam ratings and Metacritic score are falling at the same rates as when Skyrim has added paid modding.

    What has been considered as an overwhelmingly great game with top notch support is now down to “mostly positive” and below average alarming red scores in a few days.

    Way to go, whomever is Overkill marketing director should be proud.

    • Keiggo says:

      How can the Metacritic score be falling? Are people re-reviewing it?

    • TightByte says:

      I honestly don’t know much about how Metacritic works, but I find it interesting that only Steam accounts actually owning the game are able to review it. That means it’s not just the peanut gallery venting, but people who bought it and presumably played it. Its Steam rating have gone from 93% to 79% since the announcement of their microtransactions.

      What a splendidly effective way for a games publisher and its audience to engage in communication with each other.

      • Bull0 says:

        Is that true? I’m pretty sure you can review things that aren’t in your account. I’m at work, so I can’t check.

    • SaintAn says:

      Steam is still saying Very Positive. It has around 120,000 good reviews and 30,000 bads. It’s not even making a dent.

      • felis says:

        It did go from overwhelmingly positive to mostly positive, didnt it?

  4. Gandor says:

    How many times do people have to get pissed for companies to learn not to pull this stuff?

    Damn Ubisof…. Er, I mean Overkill.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      This might hurt future game sales, but because of the way microtransaction economics works, you’re always going to make more money. It takes very little time to make a new asset. It would take very few purchases of that asset to make up the cost. So the “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it” or “vote with your dollar” attitudes DO NOT WORK in this case. (remember horse armor? guarantee they made money on that) Eventually this might force them to make it a F2P game so that they can slowly transition their audience from the f’d over to the indifferent masses. I was a little hurt when TF2 changed, and there’s some similarities, but this is so so much worse. I feel for those that bought into it and loved the game.

      • Cederic says:

        Sure, they’ll make money on it. Just not from me.

        I spend at least as much money on games as I ever have. There are more options on where to spend that money than there have ever been. I don’t need Overkill to fail, I just need the people doing things right to succeed, and positive support for them matters more than the resultant loss of revenue to Overkill.

  5. Distec says:

    It’s amazing. A title I quite like has gone from a splendid little distraction after work and turned into a product I’ve now uninstalled and hidden in my library. Funny how good will can evaporate like that.

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      Did the exact same thing.

    • Darkz0r says:

      Same here.

      They added so much stuff but nothing worthwhile.
      Its probably the game that received the most amount of new and useless stuff.

      After playing the “release” version and doing everything you can, theres simply nothing to go back, unless you care about masks.

      1 or two new missions, meh!

      • CMaster says:

        Since release, they’ve more than doubled the number of heists. There have been 11 new free heists (some of which you need to be in the offical group on steam to play) and 11 paid DLC heists (admittedly 4 of them being small variations on a theme).

        No doubt they’ve added a lot of fluff and a bewildering amount of weapons and uneccessary extra features. But to say there’s no more to do than at launch is pretty clearly not true.

        • Jediben says:

          I just got sick of the constant massive updates which were clearly only for facilitating DLC which I don’t even own. There was 2.2gb down the other day for nothing I have.

  6. anHorse says:

    For me the DLC guns was a bit too far, made it really hard for me to keep up in a game I played casually.

    But I would have gone back with time, now that it’s a free to play game with a price as well and dlc I have zero interest.

  7. earthmachine says:

    It also doesn’t help that this update is apparently causing a bunch of problems with mods.

    link to steamcommunity.com

  8. Fitzmogwai says:

    Never mind problems with mods. For those of us who installed the game after Crimefest started, there’s a bug which is frequently causing CTDs at the end of missions, meaning no rewards.

    Much as I have enjoyed playing this with my friends over the last couple of days, my attitude is rapidly becoming one of “fuck this shit”.

    Which is a shame, because I spent far too many hours have an excellent – and entirely problem-free – time with the first Payday.

  9. LionsPhil says:

    You’re going to have to backpedal harder than that, Overkill.

  10. Uhuru N'Uru says:

    Just because people are daft enough to buy cosmetics, doesn’t make it good.
    The Fallacy is, so called FtP (Free to Play) games are never free. Even if you have the time and inclination to have the capability never pay for the game, you are one of the lucky few.
    Most players end up paying a lot more for FtP games than any other format.
    The second fallacy is “Cosmetics never effect gameplay, so it’s OK to sell them.
    That’s not true, invariably if not alawys, FtP games are Multi-player (Not sure about mobile, I don’t play them).
    That means that social pressures from your peers have the biggest effect on what cosmetics are “cool” and which are not. If anyone thinks who you play with, doesn’t have the greatest impact on gameplay. than any other game mechanic, they’re not human.
    If cosmetics truly had no effect, on the game, they’d not be worth buying, in the first place. They should be pert of the game.
    The only FtP model I think is acceptable and truly has no iffect on Gameplay, is paying to decrease time that must be spent playing. Some people haven’t got the time available, to reach the level of their friends, who they still want to play with. Advancing their progress in no way affects, the actual gameplay. It may make the player less skilled, that’s their problem.
    The main point is, whatever may be sold, it should always be obtainable by playing the game.

    Star Citizen, though not FtP, will use this model with ships after release. The only way to play, will be to buy (Still crowdfunding until release) the Starter ship package, Everything else will be available, simply by playing the game. Or paying for them if you choose to.
    The plan is that those sales will fund future drvelopement for years to come. Time will tell, if this fairer system will work.
    The big advantage is Star Citizen, being crowdfunded need only break even to continue. It has no publisher taking money away from the developement of the game, which is intended to only ever upgrade and expand the available Territory to play in, not be Replced by Star Citizen 2 in a few years. The more Profit it makes the more funds it has of course. If that pans out all the profits Squadron 42 makes, can go into funding further single player games.

    Ideally, CIG will become like CD Projekt RED. A shining example of publisher free developement and one others can follow.
    Also with their initial success, profits made plus further crowdfunding is also a viable option for future projects.
    Publishers wont do this, if PC gamers want games made for PC first and foremost, we must take on that risk of failure.
    Making the games release my profit, that’s what investing in crowdfunding is.

    • Leroy says:

      In response to your statement about purely cosmetic IAPs.

      I don’t entirely understand your statement about other people stating which cosmetics are cool. You don’t have to buy them. You can have your own opinions.
      I have played plenty of F2P games where the only purchasable item is cosmetic and received no such harassment. In fact, the only play interaction it has ever caused is a ‘nice skin’ message from another player.

      I feel like CS GO is a good example considering the situation. You can purchase skins (no gameplay effect). Players have all sorts of different skins and compliment each other’s choices.
      Sure, some skins are valued more than others. But because a skin is worth a lot of money doesn’t necessarily make it look nicer.

      I think it is a great way to monetise a game post-release as it only adds player choice

    • thelastpointer says:

      A bit offtopic, but…

      “Everything else will be available, simply by playing the game.”

      We’ve heard this phrase hundreds of times now. Mostly not true.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Or when true usually meaning “if you play this game for 10000 hours”.

    • colonelslate says:

      The real danger, like in the case you cite for Star Citizen, is the time investment. We obviously don’t know what the final prices of ships are going to be after the funding period is over, but I’d wager a guess they will still be very high, which in turn as a time trade off probably means that it will take some serious grinding to make the time investment equal the monetary investment. I could be wrong, but just a very real danger of the “everything is available” mantra.

      As for Payday 2’s stuff, I think there are three problems.

      1. “We’re not going to do this”
      I mean, that’s a trust issue, if some one adamantly, says, nope, not happening, you expect that.

      2. Gambling Boxes for Skins.
      Cosmetics are fine, I’m totally cool with buying cosmetics, but random gambling boxes are always shady. Top it off with the fact that you’re basically purchasing “half a DLC pack” for the chance at one of these things, and ugh.

      3. Stats.
      Selling stats, always bad. And in some cases as other people have pointed it out, yes it’s only +4 which is very small, however other skins come with the mods attached, making the bonus much more significant.

  11. CMaster says:

    The key drop rate still has to be less than the safe drop rate if they want to make any money. And it’s still an annoying, gambling-based distraction from the game that gets in the way of exisitng loot.

    Give me a way to completley ignore this Overkill, then we’ll talk.

    • Hohumm4sh3d says:

      It can be ignored though. Your not forced to open the safes or use the drills. a stat increase of +(insert single digit here) is hardly game breaking. The games not pvp but team based pve so it’s not like your ruining someone elses game time.

      If the weapon “nerf” which has happened hurts too much then peeps just need to take it as the games that little but harder. Raging and frothing at the mouth about the evils of the f2p model, uninstalling and deleting the game doesn’t make any difference.

      The constant drip feed of DLC imho has always been a strong point for PD2. For £3 or less (Their always having sales on the content and game) you get more. This attitude of entitlement and demands from a developer to continually develop at no cost more content is something I’ve not seen before. You buy a game, play the content. Finish it and then wait for the next £35-40 instalment of the series. Instead OVK have left the core game and release DLC packs for little cost.

      I pay double the cost of the DLC in my lunchtime and that only provides me with an hours enjoyment :D

      • Kitsunin says:

        It’s worth realizing that getting a safe drop sucks. Unlike TF2 or CS:GO where crates come in addition to your other drops, getting a safe in PD2 comes at the expense of another drop you could’ve actually used. So it can’t really just be ignored, it’s actively quashing your rewards.

        • Archonsod says:

          The reward cards are the least effective for getting anything *useful*, and I don’t think anyone is going to complain about not getting yet another mask or material.

        • Distec says:

          They really should have made the crates/safes/whatever drop in addition to the usual rewards. I don’t mind getting “useless” drops like paints or masks, because at least they have some utility to me if I want them. An opportunity SPEND MORE MONEY does not leave me jumping for joy; it makes me resent the game I already purchased and bought DLC for.

          So Valve’s system is better. But even there, I find myself looking at my inventory full of crates I haven’t opened since 2010 and getting slightly annoyed. I guess I can trade and sell them? That seems tedious when I have, like, five pages of these damn things.

  12. KDR_11k says:

    “It was a bit weird when it went Wild West-y”

    Eh, the Wild West pack at least had guns. It was much sillier when the DLC went medieval. That gave us crossbows and a long bow (plus swords and maces but nobody cares about melee weapons).

  13. jonahcutter says:

    Overkill were so damn cool during Payday 1. A really fan-orientated company.

    But they sure seemed to have skeeved out over the course of the second game. Going the EA route, instead of the CDProjektRed route.

  14. Chicago Ted says:

    Thank you pirate perfection