Payday 2, Microtransactions, and You
Welcome to the Crimefest!
Crimefest 2015 is here, celebrating the release of the original Payday: The Heist, and with it, brings quite possibly some of the most controversial changes to Payday 2 to date. Advertised as a “series of free community updates,” it runs from October 15th to the 25th, with the first day bringing the “Sputnik Safe,” and the “Crimefest 2 Safe.” Stop me if you've heard this before, but the safes are dropped as part of a timed drop system, and require a drill to unlock, that can either be purchased from the in-game store, or via the community market. In those safes are weapons of varying rarities, each with their own different customization skin, which in and of itself comes in a variety of degradation qualities. The icing on the cake is that some of the skins have stat boosting effects to weapons, making guns you buy/acquire via the safes better than what you have normally.
Sound like CSGO, or even the Gun Mettle update to TF2? Understandably, the community is pissed, and there's some history behind this. Prior to release, both Almir Listo, current producer for the game, and David Goldfarb, former director for the game, said that there would be no microtransactions ever for the game, Goldfarb adding “God, I hope not[,] never[,] no.” Goldfarb himself left Overkill, developers of Payday 2, sometime last year saying that he had made shooters for quite some time, and was more looking towards an RPG over anything else. Of course, looking at the drama now, Goldfarb said on Twitter that “There appears to be some microtransaction drama,” adding that “[it] was one reason why I left,” further implying that this has been in development for some time, or that he didn't see much of a future with Overkill.
Furthermore, due to some changes in the code structure coming with this update, a number of mods have stopped functioning as well. This is owing to a Reddit post, but this appears to be a result of Overkill optimizing their code more than anything else. For mod developers, this will require a community effort to pester Overkill to open up their code for such modders again. In conjunction with this, pd2stats, a wide-ranging stat-tracking website for the game, has announced that it is closing, due to less and less community members visiting the site, if only because Overkill introduced their own stat-tracking in the game some time ago.
As always, there's bound to be the more vocal members of a community taking to Twitter, Reddit, Steam forums, and elsewhere to display their apparent frustration with the changes to the game. Even the volunteer moderators themselves are aware of this fact, though a comment, since deleted, by the “head moderator” saying that they are responsible for deleting threads certainly hasn't been taken well. This led to further clarification by the moderators, effectively saying that in lieu of having the threads spammed to death, they are going to make sure that insults are kept to a minimum, and that discussion is kept civil and fresh.
A perfect storm of community outrage doesn't happen all too often in the gaming community, the last episode in recent memory probably being paid mods on the steam workshop. Will Overkill back down on this update, likely representing the final straw for many fans of the Payday series? Probably not, and this realization will likely further anger the community. The future for Payday 2 looks to be fraught with rage and strife, and it will be interesting to see where Overkill goes from here.