Payday 2 Director Quits, Says "I'm Abandoning AAA"

David Goldfarb leaves Overkill Software to start his own studio.

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Payday 2 game director David Goldfarb has quit Swedish developer Overkill Software, saying that his decision to leave was not motivated by a lack of faith in the company, but rather a personal ambition to leave AAA game development and focus on making games with smaller teams.

"I have decided to move on," Goldfarb told Polygon. "It's all on good terms and I think they're well positioned to succeed as the last Steam sale seems to indicate. They're doing just fine. It's just one of those things where I've been making games for a long time."

Indeed, Goldfarb has been in the business of making games for 15 years. Prior to joining Overkill in 2012, Goldfarb spent half a decade at DICE, where he worked on Mirror's Edge and Battlefield 3, among others. He also worked at Guerrilla Games on Killzone 2. Part of the reason Goldfarb said he wants to branch out and open his own studio is so he can have greater creative control.

"I knew that at some point the thing that I always wanted was to make my own thing. It doesn't matter who I work with: the desire was never to make other people's games, no matter how good they are," he said. "I felt like I had done everything else. Payday 2 was a big success, the team did great. But for me I was like what am I doing here?"

Goldfarb's new studio is only just getting off the ground. It aims to be a "small studio" that will employ four people. Early conceptual work for the company's first game has been in production for a few months, but it's not very far along. Though Goldfarb wouldn't give any firm details on his new project, he did outline his broad ambition.

"I'm abandoning AAA. Payday 2 wasn't triple AAA but it had AAA sales. But I just want to find genres that I can subvert," he said. "To do that I can't be working for people in the way that I was, I just don't want any of that sh**."

Don't expect Goldfarb to make a MOBA, or a game with comic book or pixel art, either. "Those are the things I will not do." What might he make, then? "I love role-playing games, so I will make one," he said.

One thing is for sure. Goldfarb has no intention of going back to AAA game development. Instead, he wants his new studio to exist in between indie and AAA, where developers can try new things and take risks.

"I never wanna really do that again, big teams. And there are a lot of reasons for that. Even when I was doing it it felt f***ing fraudulent," he said. "And there are people who are totally valid in that context but if you're a journalist or a game designer who thinks the thing that matters the most to you is you need freedom, and I think I'm one of those people, then eventually the world will decide or you will decide, there is no other thing. It will happen one way or another."

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

205 comments
greenshadow222
greenshadow222

Let's call them triple M games for MASSIVE MEDIOCRE MONEYMAKERS.  There were no triple AAA quality games in 2014. 

KSSuperhero
KSSuperhero

Good maybe they will get someone who can turn it into a decent IP.

darthburrito
darthburrito

Yeah, "try new things and take risk"......until the funds run out.

Brakkyn
Brakkyn

I know it is an unfair way to think and categorically untrue, but...whenever I hear about small teams and independent developers, all I can picture are side-scrollers and other old-school style games, which I find uninteresting.  They have their fanbase, but I am not a member.  I sometimes wonder where the industry is going with so many seeming to go this route.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

"I'm abandoning AAA. Payday 2 wasn't triple AAA but it had AAA sales. But I just want to find genres that I can subvert," he said. "To do that I can't be working for people in the way that I was, I just don't want any of that sh**."

Ya i don't like you.


Also the idea that you can't take risks or be creative unless your in between is so full of sh**. Just so you know tons of Indies take risks and even AAAs do sometimes.


 "Instead, he wants his new studio to exist in between indie and AAA, where developers can try new things and take risks."


Also gamespot stop limiting my freedom of speech...this isn't freakin miiverse where i am not even allowed to talk about alcohol and violence and no i am not joking. I nearly got banned both times.

Veenox
Veenox

I like that guy, I wish there was more people like him in the business. 

mr_nee
mr_nee

 "I'm abandoning AAA. Payday 2 wasn't triple AAA but it had AAA sales. "

So is he saying that he wants to make games that no one will buy?

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

Cool enjoy creating a new company that nobody cares about

BradBurns
BradBurns

 "Instead, he wants his new studio to exist in between indie and AAA, where developers can try new things and take risks."

Wasn't that every other game of the PS2 generation? This new generation of games is just such a sorry sight.

Redsyrup
Redsyrup

The more seasoned you become the lower your tolerance gets for other people's BS. Politics being A number 1. A small team will have little to no politics. With much respect I understand.

mos2000
mos2000

AAA game developement has become a problem -- but I hope he doesn't morph his talents to portable crap!

With that said the plethora of money poured into game development, investor expectations on rate of return and overall publisher greed is killing the genre. There has to be a new investment model involved -- a model that is more lucrative to the developers, and still creates the best quality product for the community.


Right now that's not happening. The only consistently  worthwhile dev is Bethesda in the AAA market.  Nothing against Bethesda -- but that's bad.


I'm all for indies gaining steam... via Steam... I'm a PC gamer first and foremost and the large number of options available cannot be matched.  However there's nothing like getting your hands on a greatly resourced, epic and large scaled title that changes what you can expect out of a game.  Bioshock, Mass Effect, Skyrim are large scale AAA titles that changed gaming like no other in recent history.  These titles just can't be done with indie resources.


We need AAA titles to survive and still exist.  The industry will not be the same with out them.  We as a community need to find a way to support further development and X out the disease rotten publishers and investors.  The current revenue models must go -- for the benefit of us all

Senor_Kami
Senor_Kami

As long as this doesn't result it yet another 2D indie platformer.  We literally get like 2-4 of those every week and that's been going on for the past 4 or 5 years.  It's a genre more saturated than shooters and more saturated than it was back in the 80s and 90s when 2D platformer was like one of the only genres a game could possibly be at was like #1 above all other genres.

Barighm
Barighm

Can't blame him. There's always someone trying to put their mark on your project, and more often than not, that "mark" essentially results to boiling down the project to something mainstream and forgettable.

VegasAceVII
VegasAceVII

Good to see this had some amazing sales.

Deto15
Deto15

"Payday 2 wasn't triple AAA"


Triple AAA = AAAAAAAAA

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Er....Payday 2 wasn't exactly AAA as it is.....so what exactly are you quitting?

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

most of my favourite games now are in between B+ and AAA games. The games i play the most Counter Strike, ARMA, arent AAA games.  Im quite content with good graphics not amazing graphics, if the game is awesome.


I play ARMA for the same reason this guy is going to make his own games. In ARMA i can make my own missions exactly the way I want them to be. So i fully get what he means. 


The problem with AAA is it instills fear in the developers, that they have a notion that if they don't follow the trend, then it wont sell any copies. Thats why its sht. AAA games SHOULD be absolutely amazing, they have all the resources, but publishers are to scared to be to outside the box, because of the sheer money invested into them. Once publishers make XXX money, they stay on that formula. Just look at Assassins Creed. How many Ubisoft games now have the EXACT same formula as ASS creed!!?!?!. You can guarentee Farcry 4 is going to have the exact same formula as farcry 3 and Assassins creed with barely any innovation. Even watch dogs is pretty much the Ass creed / farcry formula and then other companies will follow it because they will see Ass creed making money out f it and then its all downhill from there. Same goes with QTE events. Publishers start thinking its the QTE thats making more people buy it. Just BECAUSE that particular game had QTE event sin it, doesnt mean thats the reason it sold well. Well RYSE and Cryteks latest money issues is a good look at how QTE DOESNT mean your company is going to make tons of money.

Johny_47
Johny_47

Good for him, he should go to indie games, much better and more creative.

nurnberg
nurnberg

Another guy that will go beg on Kickstarter... like there are not already enough of those.

spectreSE7EN
spectreSE7EN

@Brakkyn I hear you. Been thinking the same thing.  With so many of these platformers, endelss runners, old school style of games, pixel art, etc.  I totally get where they're coming from.  I grew up on games like that because that's all the tech would allow at the time.  There's some nostalgia tied to these types of games for older gamers like myself, yet they appeal to younger gamers who grew up on 3D rendered titles and games that push the boundaries of realism.  Some of the younger gamers gravitate towards these side scrolling, 8-bit art style games because it is fresh and new to them.  For myself, I grew up playing thousands of titles built like that.  Its nothing new to me.  Everytime I play these games, they're fun for a minute and I'm always left with a "been there, done that" feeling.  I dunno, every now and then I get a great experience...limbo comes to mind, but even that construct is something I've done many times before with games like the original Flashback and Out of This World on PC.  


Sorry for the rant :)  Good for Goldfarb.  Hope he makes a great RPG.  

staticsnake87
staticsnake87

@WolfGrey Meanwhile, the average American is too stupid and uneducated to know that the "Freedom of Speech" they always refer too is the first amendment in the U.S. Constitution, which specifically protects their speech from GOVERNMENT restriction. Such as to prevent a single GOVERNMENT from saying you are not allowed to speak freely in their presence. It has no bearing on private grounds such as this website.

MonocleOwl
MonocleOwl

@mr_nee

Triple AAA? That's AAAAAAAAA. For a AAAAAAAAA game to have AAA sales is pretty bad, so it's a good thig Payday wasn't a AAAAAAAAA game.

keech
keech

@BradBurns It's nice to see seasoned game developers starting to realize that there needs to be some kind of middle ground, and actually trying to make it happen.


When you have names like Kojima, Levine, Inafune, and Cliffy B saying the AAA development is in trouble and in most cases bailing on it entirely, you know there's a huge problem.

staticsnake87
staticsnake87

@Redsyrup By a small team will have little to no politics, you mean this guy clearly has control issues and doesn't know how to work in a team. Some of what he said clearly sounds like someone who thinks his ideas are better than anyone's, so he just wants morons to listen to him and make his game with no input of their own whatsoever. This was pretty clear from his remark that it doesn't matter who he works with. Seems pretty pathetic to me.

thorn3000
thorn3000

@Redsyrup agreed,...he made a good choice, honestly if you look this is a point any producer / director etc. reaches if he has the balls to do so...creating something other people want for your whole life because it sells is demotivating and is not what true gamers (I mean the producer etc. being a gamer) want...I applaud his choice and that he is going to create RPG, hopefully he some nice indie one, luv em, who needs photorealistic BF bullcrap when you have a great idea and atmosphere

thorn3000
thorn3000

@Senor_Kami and? I still enjoy playing them IF they have a good idea and IF they have a good atmosphere, it sure is saturated, but at least hey, you have the choice

hystavito
hystavito

@nyran125tk I agree they are afraid to take a risk, but I also believe a lot of gamers really do want the same thing over and over.  You see people around here complaining about it, but honestly we're just a tiny little fraction of the market.


I remember someone commenting recently that most CoD players don't have the time or the desire, or both, to want to learn new gameplay and that's how CoD manages to be super successful without changing much.  That's just one example to think about, as possible reasons why AAA doesn't like to stray from an established formula.  Yes they are afraid of risk but, they probably know their market a lot better than we like to think.

thorn3000
thorn3000

@Johny_47 or kickstarter if he wants to create something above an indie (with more funds)

Jasper_73
Jasper_73

@spectreSE7EN That's funny I was about to right something very similar, looks like you did it for me :-)

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Alurit @Thanatos2k No, I read it.  It still doesn't make sense.  If he's not making AAA games now then how is he quitting AAA games?

kujel
kujel

@hystavito @nyran125tk "I agree they are afraid to take a risk, but I also believe a lot of gamers really do want the same thing over and over." Those aren't gamers, they are as we Satanists say herdlings.

dustdevil15
dustdevil15

@Thanatos2k @Alurit He said it wasn't an AAA game but it had AAA sales. At the end of the day (and this is just my opinion) if a game has AAA sales, then it's pretty much an AAA game.

OldDirtyCR
OldDirtyCR

@Thanatos2k @Alurit Read the article a couple more times. You'll get it eventually.

Actually I have taken pity on you. He worked on several high profile AAA games before, as stated in the article. He's sick of the atmosphere and lack of freedom from having hundreds of employees. 

 

lilflipp
lilflipp

@dustdevil15 @Thanatos2k @Alurit So if I make a game in my grand mothers basement with 2 highschool friends and somehow the game explodes with popularity and sells millions. Is that a AAA game?


I think he was referencing AAA more as the work environment. When you get into AAA projects, you will most likely have a large team. And I think because of it you lose the ability to put your own input, and construct the game based around, a feeling of what you want it to be.

It becomes more about accomplishing your objectives in time, so that the other team can proceed, and then comes the pressure that doesn't really have to do with the game itself but with the environment. Your motivation starts to comes less and less from the excitement of building this fun game and more from pressure. You start to enjoy your work less, and that can transpire into the way you actually feel about what you're making and that's when everything can go wrong. You stop having as much fun, and enjoy it less and imagination and creativity drops.


Look at it this way, it's like when you're going somewhere with just a few close friends, and then when you go with a group of friends that aren't as close to you. In the big group, you lose some authenticity, you're not as comfortable.


As this industry grows, it will become more and more like Hollywood.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@dustdevil15 @Thanatos2k @Alurit Minecraft had AAA sales.  Will Notch quit next?


Is he afraid of success?  Because that's what it sounds like.  OH NO!  Too many people bought our game!  That somehow devalues our work!

dustdevil15
dustdevil15

@lilflipp A game may not start out AAA, but if it rakes in enough dough, it kind've becomes that way.


And does anyone have a specific definition for an AAA title, anyway? I was always under the impression that it sort of depended on how much money you put into the game, marketing, development, etc. I mean, I don't necessarily think it matters how many people make a game, you could get a large group of people together to make an indie game. Now that's generally not the case, but it could happen.



Barighm
Barighm

@Thanatos2k I suspect he wanted to make a game a certain way but everyone else wanted to do it another way and his ideas got crowded out. As a result, he was no better than a programming monkey. He came to work, did his job, and then went home. For a creative person that's incredibly stifling and an intolerable way to live. The fact the game was successful is irrelevant.

Think of it like being paid a lot of money to shovel poop. Sure you're being well paid, but in the end...you're shoveling crap for a living! 

lilflipp
lilflipp

@dustdevil15 @lilflipp I agree. It's really hard to define. I think it's a combination of everything, usually with low budget, you can't afford to have a large team.

AAA just have this corporate feel to it. Having people who aren't into games wanting to push a game out, is where things start to get weird.

dustdevil15
dustdevil15

@lilflipp @dustdevil15 Yeah I agree, I'm not sure if you've ever attended a gaming convention, but some of the big name companies (AKA Ubisoft lol) will hire some people to advertise Assassin's Creed titles who clearly don't care much for video games, which is really strange because you would think the only people attending gaming conventions would be, well, gamers.

lilflipp
lilflipp

@dustdevil15 @lilflipp I've been to one gaming convention. Yeah, and Ubi giving free phones to "gaming journalists". Lol.

I'm from Montreal, I live a block away from Ubi Mtl.

dustdevil15
dustdevil15

@lilflipp @dustdevil15 Ha, yeah I'm from Washington and I live a couple minutes away from Bungie and Valve, but those companies are less slimy.