How Payday Studio Starbreeze Turned Things Around

After a disastrous few years, Payday developer Starbreeze Studios has managed to turn its fortunes around.


Starbreeze Studios was in a perilous position several years ago, as it branched into publishing, acquired multiple studios, and planned to develop its own virtual reality headset resulted in company behind Payday spreading itself too thin. With Overkill's The Walking Dead proving to be a financially and critically disastrous game, accusations of insider trading that resulted in a police raid, Starbreeze was facing insolvency by the end of 2018.

Since then, the company has dramatically reversed its fortunes thanks to a period of reconstruction that gave it the chance to pay off debts and refocus its efforts to once again become profitable. And it's largely thanks to Payday 2 that Starbreeze is on the road to recovery.

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"We have some awesome people who have been with the Payday IP throughout its lifecycle who are still with us, but it feels like a new company, a startup, and we're really keen on getting [back on top]," new CEO Tobias Sjögren said to GamesIndustry.Biz. "And when we look at how Payday 2 is performing and how many people play it on a daily basis, I think we're already there."

Payday 2 has a healthy audience on Steam, and has retained those numbers with premium seasonal and free content. As the game keeps Starbreeze afloat and edging closer to once again being in the black--quarterly losses are shrinking steadily--the company is focusing on Payday 3 which is being designed with longevity in mind.

"Obviously Payday 3 is going to be [ongoing] and that plays into one of our key strengths at Starbreeze," Sjögren said. "We're good at managing a community and building a game that can be monetized over time. I definitely think Payday 3 will stay true to that part of the experience, but also it needs to change with the times and we have a lot of insights and understanding of what we need to do to be relevant when we release this, ten years after Payday 2."

Other factors such as Starbreeze paying off most of its creditors by the end of 2020 and securing a €50 million publishing deal for Payday 3 with Koch Media have also helped with the company's recovery path, as it continues to work towards a 2023 release for Payday 3. "That time is what you need to make a game good," added Sjögren

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