Starbreeze’s financial woes have thrown up some interesting twists in recent times. The Swedish publisher and developer nearly collapsed this year following a financially difficult 2018. A company restructuring managed to keep things afloat and they are in the process of building their future around Payday 3, which is coming out in 2022 or 2023. That’s something of a gap, one that they're hoping to plug by restarting development of Payday 2 a year after the gang waved goodbye. They are asking players to pay for more DLC going forward.
That last line is quite a thing to write because Starbreeze are essentially breaking a promise made to the people who bought Payday 2: Ultimate Edition, a package that promised any future addition for free. They're owning up to that and asking for help.
Here’s how things shook out, according to Starbreeze CEO Mikael Nermark: "Late 2018 Starbreeze found itself in an acute liquidity shortfall (fancy words for: 'we were urgently really out of cash'). In December of 2018, Starbreeze entered into 'reconstruction', a procedure similar to the US version of Chapter 11. On December 3rd, we only had projected cash reserves to run the company until mid-January 2019. This was how serious the situation had become."
They're still here, so the reconstruction gave them time and space to plan for the future. Bringing back Payday 2 is a smart move. It still hovers around the middle of Steam’s top 100 games. According to Nermark: "We want to move forward and make more of Payday 2, and to do so we need your support to continue producing content. New DLCs will be a mix of paid and free updates."
For those who bought the Ultimate Edition, that version is now going to be rebranded as the Payday 2: Legacy Collection. It'll have all the previous expansions that were developed up to the end of 2018, but paid content from this revived development period will have to be purchased. Newmark's honest about having to do this: "I know we’re breaking a promise. We do not do so with ease or take this lightly."
They're in a tough spot. Promises made to people laying down money can sometimes come back to haunt you. If you bought the Ultimate Edition, you'd be well within your rights to be a bit miffed, but jobs are on the line. I think I'd be understanding, given it's a game that's lasted six years and had numerous free updates. Though if you disagree I wouldn't argue with you. There's nothing to be won in that fight.