Starbreeze's Payday 3 released over the weekend, and has already hit 1.3 million unique players. In a new press release, the developer confirmed the milestone covers both PC and consoles (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S), and peaked at a concurrent player count of 218,250.
At least part of the game's success is due to Xbox Game Pass, which touts the heist game on both the Xbox Series X|S and PC versions of the service. Players doesn't equate to units sold, but at the very least, the 1.3 million shows a fondness for a series that was almost cut short.
Similar to the success of Dead Island 2 earlier this year, it appears the Payday franchise fills a particular niche that can only be truly be filled by more Payday.
There was a caveat to the benchmark, namely that Payday 3 has been plagued with server issues since its September 21 launch. Starbreeze noted the matchmaking infrastructure "has not performed as tested and expected."
The developer further noted that the issue didn't appear in any Payday 3 pre-release technical betas (or Early Access) because of "the specificity of rapid user influx and load-balancing." A fix has since been deployed, with Starbreeze adding it would look for a new third-party partner "to make Payday 3 less reliant on online services."
CEO Tobias Sjögren acknowledged the studio has "a lot of diligent and consistent work ahead of us to regain community trust, but we will work hard to do it. We are confident in our core product and the quality of Payday 3—and all available metrics point to it."
The long, winding road to Payday 3
Despite the server issues, Starbreeze has confidence in Payday 3's long-term success—mainly because the game's predecessor Payday 2 proved the series can have a very long tail.
In 2018, Starbreeze nearly went under after the release of The Walking Dead: Overkill. That game's lackluster sales caused the studio to put many of its endeavors on hold as it filed for administration and then-CEO Bo Andersson immediately departed.
Starbreeze has been kept afloat mainly by the revenue brought in from Payday 2 (which first released in 2013) and its continuous updates over the years. At the same time, it's been working on Payday 3, which was already booked to be co-published by Plaion (via Deep Silver).
Even though Payday has helped save Starbreeze, the developer has plans beyond that one property. In October 2022, it revealed it would begin to publish games from third-party developers again (which it stopped doing after Overkill's underperformance).
It also currently developing a new property that it plans to release sometime in 2025.