After a particularly rough 2019, Starbreeze placed its future on the back of its Payday franchise.
That decision first caused it to resume live development of Payday 2 last year to help keep the studio afloat, but looking forward that now means that a lot is riding on the next entry in the Payday series.
After sharing earlier in the year that Starbreeze participated in some promising conversations about Payday 3’s publishing agreement, the Swedish studio has now shared a slight update on Twitter to note that subsidiary Overkill's development on the game is moving along.
While there’s not a lot to go off of there, the tweet does share one interesting tidbit of information about Payday 3: it’s being made using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. Previous games in the Payday series made use of the Diesel engine, a creation of the decade-defunct studio Grin that was founded in part by ousted Starbreeze CEO Bo Andersson that had become Starbreze’s in-house engine.
However it’s not the first time Starbreeze has worked with Unreal Engine, but this time around it seems that the studio is learning from its past troubles and starting with the externally-developed engine early into development, rather than trying to shift gears years into the game’s creation.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead, notably the game launch that seemed to kick off Starbreeze’s financial tailspin, launched as an Unreal Engine title, but was first developed using Diesel, then pivoted to use the Valhalla engine Starbreze acquired in May 2015, until those efforts were shelved in favor of using Unreal Engine. According to a Eurogamer writeup from last year, those pivots made a significant contribution to the development hell the developers of Overkill’s The Walking Dead found themselves in, and played a major part in Starbreeze’s resulting financial trouble.
With Starbreeze now saying it is in the design phase of its Payday 3 development plans, it looks like the early adoption of Unreal Engine aims to avoid the missteps of its past, while also counting it among the ranks of other major development studios that have seemingly shelved their internal engine development efforts in favor of major third-party engines like Unreal or Unity.