When Overkill Software first added TF2-like weapon crates to Payday 2 [official site], putting special gun skins with better stats in ‘safes’ unlocked by paying real money for ‘drills’, it went poorly. The vocal portion of the co-op heist FPS’s playerbase were riled, to say the least. Overkill backpedalled a little, making it so folks might randomly earn free drills while playing, but it was still pretty crummy of them. Now they’ve returned with a new set of safes, containing guns with new unique bonuses. Oh dear.
Yesterday’s update added weapon skins with ‘Team Boost’. If any player on a heist brings a Team Boost weapon, the whole crew receive bonuses to experience and money, which are used to climb the skill tree, unlock weapons and items, and so on. I can see the logic in this: folks are less likely to feel they’re missing out by not paying if they’re on a heist with someone who has a special skin. But it also means that if no one has one of these skins, your whole crew are levelling and unlocking slower than you know you otherwise could. Yes, you might get ’em free if you’re lucky enough to get a drill, but the existence of microtransactions add a nasty taint.
The reaction from vocal players is, well, about what you’d expect. Several of Payday 2’s volunteer Steam forum moderators have gone on strike, unhappy with Overkill and stressed about how much abuse they themselves now have to deal with.
Why add safes in the first place? Overkill had tripled the size of the Payday team to keep releasing new free updates and paid DLC, producer Almir Listo explained on Reddit after the initial safe upset, and thought these microtransactions were a good way to ensure they earned enough to support that. Back then in October, he said:
“We understand that there is a lot of fury, anger and disappointment with us adding this. From an economical standpoint however, completely based on statistics, we can already see that the Black Market update is working as we intended. Going forward, we hope we can convince the parts of the community that resist this change that this was the right decision to do to ensure the stability of Overkill as an independent developer and the future growth of Payday 2.”
Evidently there are/were enough people who liked the safes enough to crack one open, making the business decision not wholly insensible from Overkill’s perspective. People who liked them are less likely to go rampaging across forums, I suppose, and we should never mistake vocal players for representatives of everyone. However, Payday 2 is also supported by regular paid DLC, and I can imagine a portion of players who bought those might now be put off.
I don’t have access to the numbers Overkill are basing their decisions on, though.
At this point, I wonder whether Overkill will be able to turn folks around or if each new set of safes will kick this whole fuss off all over again. Making drills available as free drops as well as purchases clearly wasn’t enough.