A new update from Starbreeze on the status of the much-needed first patch for Payday 3 does not offer much in the way of good news: The patch is still not ready to go, and there's no indication as to when it will be. Instead, the studio has come to us with a brief explanation of how it all went so disastrously wrong, and what it's doing to try to fix it.
There is one bright spot amidst all the gloom: The first patch has been sent off for console certification, a process required by Sony and Microsoft to ensure, as much as possible, that game updates aren't going to cause any unintended grief. Certification requirements forced a delay in the release of the patch in early October; at the time, Starbreeze expected it would be ready to go live by mid-October, but obviously that didn't work out.
Delays are never fun, but in this case it was probably for the best. Starbreeze said the situation could have been even worse if it hadn't postponed the patch.
"The reason it has taken so long to get this first patch ready is very long and complicated, but the short version is that we discovered critical errors with our update pipeline shortly after the game released," Starbreeze said. "There was a significant risk to player progression being wiped if we didn’t address this and ensure a solid test environment."
As for why the console certification process is holding the patch up on PC, Starbreeze said it has "made a commitment to our players to keep parity between all platforms." In other words, if they wait, we wait.
Every game and situation is different, and Payday 3 has obviously run into far more serious problems than anyone anticipated. Still, it's hard not to draw comparisons to Lords of the Fallen: Less than two weeks after that game launched with serious performance and stability issues of its own, developer Hexworks has mashed out no fewer than eight updates, which has gone a long way toward restoring the goodwill of its players (some of whom are now expressing worry that developers are crunching too hard to maintain the pace of patches) and faith that the game will meet its potential. Starbreeze, meanwhile, has nothing but apologies, explanations, and pleas for patience.
It's surely frustrating for Starbreeze developers, but players are frustrated too. That's reflected in Payday 3's concurrent player counts, which have tapered off precipitously since its September 21 launch. Currently, 2,609 people are playing the game, which isn't a complete collapse but far from its peak of more than 69,000; it's also less than 1/10 of Payday 2's current number. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison—Payday 2 has been around for a decade and so presumably has a much larger player base—but it is a clear sign that people are, understandably, not making the move to the new game.
Aside from getting the patch fixed, Starbreeze said it's also looking at ways to change Payday 3's progression system in response to player feedback, and will have more information on that to share soon. "Once we can consistently deliver patches, the team will also deliver on our plans for more content for the game," the studio said. "Expect to see free content updates for the game before the end of the year, we’ll share more information on what these will be when we get there."