In light of my recent article and even more recent events, I felt it was prudent to elaborate on some things and further inform you of what’s been going on. As reward for completing Payday 2‘s Crimefest 2015, the fanbase has received the first of many rewards. That being the option to now receive weapon skins through microtransactions.
At the time of writing, the fanbase outcry had already been quite steady. In the light of Overkill’s Producer Almir saying back in 2013, “We’ve made it clear that PAYDAY 2 will have no micro-transactions whatsoever (shame on you if you thought otherwise!)” you can imagine how that would come back to bite them in their hiney.
Personally, I always felt Overkill was more “blissfully unaware” of the ongoings in the gaming world than being actually devious of nature. In fact, one could argue that this might help keep the game further alive. Sitting out the tidal storm might have been a course of action worth suggesting.
Instead, it becomes painfully obvious now through a Reddit thread that has been cataloging the relevant ongoings, that Overkill seems to now be “in full PR disaster mode.” Holding no punches, Overkill has now been accused of implementing a “pay-to-win microtransaction system adding skins that give affect player stats, make weapons do more damage and a range of other stat changes such as more ammo carrying capacity.”
In response to this tidal wave of negativity, moderators have been deleting posts of other users and apparently “locking down their steam forum,” as well as covering up shady things such as removing the announcement of removing the .lua hook. The latter is a pivotal component to modding the game and for many was the sole reason they were still playing the game. Then there’s the fact that the promised weapon rebalance seems to be more of a nerf going around some classes of weaponry, as for example the LMG’s being more wieldy and inaccurate.
The chaos is real. Users have complained before that Overkill had been padding on small pieces of content to their game through weapon DLC, complaining that the DLC weapons often outclassed similar weaponry and prove to be superior. Now having reskins that seemingly take even less effort and give yet even more advantages, Payday 2‘s fans feel Overkill has quite a bit to answer for.
Here’s my two cents on it: This didn’t need to happen. First of all, skins that give stat boosts? If you as a developer were aware of gamers being sensitive over Pay-2-win practices, you’d know better than that. Even if you don’t believe the boosts are significant enough, their sheer existence alone will work against you. If it was cosmetic only just like in CS:GO and TF2, I’d imagine the outrage (while probably still existent) would have been drastically less. I’m not sure changing this after-the-fact will have been the better of two pathways, but it’d surely be better than not seeing what mess this has been already, and might continue to be.
Also, why announce this as a part of CrimeFest? The idea behind the event was always free content. Instead, the idea has been turned 180 degrees, corrupted almost. This is actual content you need to pay money for to access. Even if Almir had not made that promise so many years ago, the idea of implementing microtransactions through an event that was always about free content could come across as quite disgusting for some fans.
But finally, this could have so easily come with a free aspect to lessen the pain. Maybe have some grey or green colored rarity chests be free to open. These skins would not look as good and give a very, almost negligible, chance at getting a skin from a higher rarity. Dirty Bomb has been doing it somewhat this way and it hasn’t worked against them so far. In fact, I even played Dirty Bomb for a month straight because I felt that business model was fair enough for my taste. Overkill could have chosen to innovate or take a look at a more recent example for this kind of idea. But instead they went with a simple copy of an already existing and beaten-to-death concept.
And that’s what I think has been wrong with Payday 2 for the longest time. All the weapon packs, the map packs, they’re all based on existing ideas fit to make functional in their own game. You’ve got Historical Weaponry, a Ninja Pack, Yakuza, and so on and so forth. All that takes is making or commissioning a weapon mesh, giving it a texture and sounds and maybe make new animations for it. It’s not a negligible task, but far from an insurmountable either. In fact, there are people who design brand new weaponry and release them as mods for other games, such as Fallout 3/New Vegas. The talent to have these things done is out there. So surely a studio like Overkill can bring itself to innovate, or at least finally make good on their promise to have Safehouse Customization?
The worst offender, I think, is disabling the .lua hook. I am among the people who would have given up on the game without mods. As you may know by now, I am a strong advocate for game modding, believing that very few things make a game last as long as user-made modifications can do. Overkill has now spat in the face of the hard working people who code mods for others to enjoy. And it would seem they did this to protect their precious microtransactions that so far have been nothing but trouble for them.
A question comes to mind, is it worth it?
What do you think? Were you expecting the outrage to reach such a size? And what of Overkill’s apparently rash actions, do you think they are in the right? What would be a reasonable course of action at this point?