After a difficult financial year which saw them face a very real threat of shutting down, Starbreeze have survived a reconstruction process (roughly the Swedish equivalent of administration) and agreed a plan to pay off their debts. They’re still not in great shape, what with those debts and all, but the court have approved their proposal to complete the reconstruction process so there is hope. For now, they’re focusing on what they say is their “core business”: the cooperative heisting Payday games, including the upcoming Payday 3.
Starbreeze entered administration in December 2018, saying they needed time and security “to negotiate a long-term financial solution and implement changes in the organisation and operations.” They’ve done a lot to try and get steady since then. They sold off publishing rights to several games, including System Shock 3 and Psychonauts 2. They sold their majority stake in art asset outsourcing company Dhruva to Rockstar Games. They pulled out of a VR arcade in Dubai. They shuffled back from VR in general. They reshuffled and tidied a lot of business bits. In the midst of all this, they were hit hard by their cooperative zombie-blaster Overkill’s The Walking Dead flopping badly enough that the license owners had it pulled from sale.
“It has been a toilsome journey for the entire company over the past twelve months, but we are very pleased to have gained the creditors’ confidence and have succeeded in reclassifying the majority of our debts to long-term to be repaid over five years,” acting CEO Mikael Nermark said in Friday’s announcement.
“We have also succeeded in positioning the company in a situation where we can look forward to the future and focus on our core business – to develop games within the Payday franchise.”
They recently said they expect Payday 3 in 2022 or 2023, pending the signing of a publishing agreement they trust will go ahead. They have also returned to Payday 2 with new free content updates and paid DLC, a year after they had ended development and waved goodbye. Payday 2 was a moneymaker and is still popular, and they need money. Apparently they’re pinning their hopes on the series.
“Our most important brand has great potential to provide the company with a stable foundation for decades to come,” Nermark added.
It’s a shame to see Starbreeze have their options limited. Remember they also made Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons, which was very not-Payday. But business is business, and their business has been bad. And I do welcome more Payday.