Q&A: We speak with Starbreeze's CEO about the €50 million deal with Koch Media and what it means for the studio and the game.
Major news for Payday 3 recently broke when developer Starbreeze announced a €50 million deal with Koch Media to fully fund the upcoming heist game, and to support it for more than a year after release through its games-as-a-service model. Starbreeze also confirmed a 2023 release date for Payday 3 on next-gen consoles and PC as part of the news.
Payday as a franchise is crucial to Starbreeze's business, so this was a major deal that could have lasting implications going forward. GameSpot caught up with Starbreeze CEO Tobias Sjögren to discuss this new deal and what it means for Starbreeze and the Payday series. In our conversation, Sjögren talks about how the deal came together in the first place, the benefits of having Payday 3 now be fully funded, what Starbreeze has in mind for Payday 3's games-as-a-service approach, and how involved Koch is in the day-to-day.
Also in the interview, Sjögren talks about the possibility of expanding the Payday series to new media and more. You can check out GameSpot's full interview below.
Payday 3 was originally announced back in 2016 when Starbreeze acquired the franchise for $30 million.
Can you walk us through how this deal with Koch Media came together?
Sjögren: We had several discussions ongoing simultaneously. In the end we believed Koch Media to be the perfect publishing partner for Payday 3; they share our passion for the IP and the games-as-a-service model. They were open to a co-publishing partnership and understand the value of what Starbreeze contributes with the IP, our community and the games-as-a-service model.
What does the injection of capital mean for Payday 3 and the team at Starbreeze overall? What does this allow you to do that you couldn’t before?
It means a lot for Starbreeze of course. With this deal, Payday 3 is fully financed to launch and beyond release. For the team it means ease of mind, and not having to be in 'pitch-mode' while developing at the same time--meaning we can focus on making the best game possible.
We estimate that the total investment up to 18 months after the release can be as much as 50 Million Euro or more--we have the resources needed to create the game we want. The deal-length is also significant--it cements a commitment to post-release development, something Payday 2 has done so well. We are still releasing content eight years after its launch that our community loves.
Beyond that, Payday 3's development allows for a great exploration of how we can expand and innovate on the games-as-a-service model. We believe that making Payday 3 will give us great experiences that we can use to deliver Starbreeze's unique take on games-as-a-service to other titles in the future.
What does it mean for Starbeeze and Payday 3 to have Koch Media as a co-publisher? How are you both working together? I understand Starbreeze owns the IP, but how involved is Koch Media on the day-to-day of the game?
To be fair, we just started working together, but the key thing for us going with Koch Media is their focus on expanding their publishing portfolio into the Games as a Service model. While we have a clear idea of where we want to take the Payday IP further, we know we can lean on a broad international organization for testing our ideas and getting great input. And the key here will be the on-going development of content beyond the release, where the publishing and development team will work close to each other in short iterations.
In the end, we each bring decades of experience to the table--we've been working on the Payday experience for ten years, and Koch Media has been publishing successful games for more than 20.
Payday 3 is now fully financed--in layman's terms, can you talk about what this means for the game and its future?
I guess the short answer is that thanks to this deal, we will not need any additional capital to deliver Payday 3, and can focus on making Payday 3 the best game it can be.
When we started the development back in October 2019 we knew Payday 3 would be a big game, and we realized we would be better off focusing on development rather than trying to self-publish. We knew this: Payday 3 deserves to be a game that has the best possible financing and organization behind it. And to complete that plan we knew we needed additional financing. With the co-publishing agreement with Koch Media we have that secured.
You've said there will be a long-term tail for Payday 3 with the games-as-a-service model and ongoing monetization. I know you’re holding back specifics for now, but at a high level, what can fans expect in terms of ongoing support for Payday 3, and how will microtransactions play into the formula?
Payday fans are familiar with what we call games-as-a-service already, since this is the current model for Payday 2. We want to continue to provide a full game experience that can evolve with more content over time. Based on the experience we have together with the community, we have seen this model work well both from a player perspective and our development cycle. So while we're still working out specifics for Payday 3, we're going to look at a number of options, including the potential for premium content released as DLC and other transaction models, suitable for the games-as-a-service model.
Payday is obviously a massively successful series with 28M installed units. As you look to grow the franchise further, do you have plans for transmedia efforts like a TV show or a movie or some kind of further extension?
Storytelling has always been an important pillar in our vision for Payday--you can see this in the various co-operations we’ve done with IPs like John Wick, Scarface, and Point Break. If you look around the industry, I think most people would agree that the world is more open to that kind of IP exploration now than ever before.
We want to continue exploring new opportunities to engage both our existing community as well as new fans--and with a franchise like Payday that's built from the ground up to suit a Hollywood-style heist fantasy, we think there could be awesome opportunities to push this further. Overall, we think a franchise like Payday deserves multiple different entry points, and we'll work to create these while always keeping our player community front and center.
I understand development on Payday 3 is still relatively early, but what can you share about the game, what it will offer and how it will be more expansive and innovative than the earlier games?
Yes, it's still a bit early to dive into specific features, but we can safely say that we are going to push the envelope and make sure that Payday 3 delivers on the high-octane, co-op first person shooter gameplay that our fans know and love. We're aiming really high with this title, and want our players to live out the Hollywood fantasy of a world-class career criminal.
One item I can share is how excited I am that Payday 3 will be developed on the Unreal Engine. This will allow us to develop more quickly, be available on more platforms and to add new features that continue expanding the Payday 3 universe long after Payday 3 launches.