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Payday 2 developers are breaking their promise to fans and charging for DLC

The Ultimate Edition will no longer give you all the content for free

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Two masked robbers hold guns inside a ransacked jewelry store in Payday 2 Overkill/Starbreeze
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

Payday 2, a game that’s been out for six years and remains astoundingly popular, is getting more DLC. Publisher Starbreeze said it’s spooling up development once again, and that additional modules — both free and for-pay — are on the way. The news comes courtesy of Starbreeze CEO Mikael Nermark, who let fans know that development is going to restart on Friday morning.

It’s good news, but it comes at a two-fold price. It will literally cost players money, and it will cost Starbreeze a bit of its reputation.

“We’re breaking the [...] promise of forever-free-content,” Nermark said in his letter. “The reasoning for this is plain and simple: 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.”

Payday 2 has an interesting backstory. The multiplayer first-person heist simulator was initially released in 2013 with just a few scenarios. The game grew significantly, with dozens of DLC packs and frequent updates that helped it earn a dedicated fan base. As Nermark put it in his letter, Starbreeze thought that eventually Payday 2’s popularity would slow down and be replaced by a new Starbreeze game, but that never really happened. Cough.

As the game’s popularity grew, so did the ambition of its DLC. Payday 2 had tie-in content with other games like Hotline Miami and Shadow Warriors 2. It even had big name movie deals including the addition of characters from John Wick, the 2015 Point Break remake, Reservoir Dogs, and even Scarface. All this new content helped the game continue to grow, and kept players logging in every day. Even today, Payday 2 sits within the top 50 most played games on Steam.

Payday 2 was joined by Payday 2: Ultimate Edition in 2017. That new version made the game more approachable to new players, and it also included all that previous DLC. It also promised all future content, saying that those who purchased it would “get everything Payday 2 in a package, until we release the next installment of Payday.” But that proved financially untenable.

Despite its popularity, development on the game’s content was wound down in December of 2018, as Starbreeze faced financial troubles.

“Late 2018 Starbreeze found itself in an acute liquidity shortfall. In December of 2018, Starbreeze entered into ‘reconstruction’, a procedure similar to the US version of Chapter 11,” Nermark says in his letter. Now, almost a year later, the company is afloat and Nermark says it’s time to look to the future, which includes more Payday 2 DLC.

Now Starbreeze is adding Payday 2: Legacy Edition to Steam. This version will still come with all past DLC available for Ultimate Edition, including everything that released up until the end of 2018, but will remove the promise of free future DLC.

The letter itself doesn’t include any clues as to what future DLC might look like, but there are a few spots that say Starbreeze will offer a sneak peek with the promise of a link that is “coming soon.” While it’s unclear when more Payday 2 content will show up, but the new Legacy Edition of the game is available on Steam now.

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