By many accounts, Payday 3 appears to be a disappointing half-step forward for the longrunning co-op bank robbery series. Unlike its predecessor, it also requires players to always be online, a seemingly grave misjudgement given Payday 3’s first-week launch woes. The problems with crashes, slow matchmaking, and disconnected servers were so bad the CEO of creator Starbreeze Studios began apologizing for the state of the game almost immediately.
“We are so sorry that the infrastructure didn’t hold up as expected, and although it’s impossible to prepare for every scenario—we should be able to do better,” Tobias Sjögren tweeted on September 22, just a day after Payday 3’s debut. “We work tirelessly until we have restored all services and our players can get back to heisting again without issues!”
“Early access” for Payday 3 began on September 18, but the massive influx of new players didn’t begin until its full release on September 21. In addition to PC and PlayStation 5, the multiplayer heist sim also hit Game Pass, where paying subscribers on Xbox Series X/S could download it for free. PC players complained about the game being stuck in “searching” mode when trying to find a match. Some Xbox players also appear to have faced unstable servers and crashes.
“No matter what you choose, public, friends only, invite only, it will just matchmaker forever,” wrote one player in a post that blew up on Reddit. “Release day is usually tough for studios. This…This is embarrassing.”
Players on PS5, meanwhile, began the week with an apparent wrong build of the game. Lead producer Andreas Häll-Penninger blamed Sony for pushing out an incorrect patch. “PS5 players: For reasons out of our control you are currently playing an older version of the game,” he tweeted. “Sony is working on rolling out the proper patch.” The right version arrived a day later, but it was still a bad omen for fans on PS5 who paid $30 extra for the Silver Edition to play the game before others.
Naturally, the outages have once again spurred calls for companies to move away from always-online requirements. Payday 2’s offline mode lets players run through missions with AI-controlled characters. While the allure of the series remains its real time online multiplayer antics, being able to still enjoy the game without an internet connection was a nice feature. An offline mod for the game is apparently already in the works.
A three-act play on the Payday 3 Twitter account (sorry, I mean “X” account) perfectly captured the mood of the launch. “HEISTERS! We’re number one on Steam!” the account tweeted on September 21. “Heisters, we’re currently experiencing slow matchmaking,” read its very next tweet. “We’re investigating and working on a solution.” While matchmaking was unavailable for many throughout the afternoon and evening, the studio reported that things were improving by early in the morning on September 22, only for outages to creep back in as the day went on.
The ongoing mess is another reminder of why so many people take a wait-and-see approach to new game launches, especially on PC, especially when they have stringent online requirements. “Payday 3 feels like the kind of game that is not meant for day-one purchase,” wrote one observer on Reddit. “But rather wait until they have a bunch of content released.”
This is effectively what IGN wrote in the very first paragraph of its Payday 3 review. “The usual horrible Payday bugs, a dinky pool of jobs to tackle, and a predictably weak story mean it’s not exactly the giant leap forward I was hoping for,” it reads. “Still, if Payday 2’s post-launch support is any indication, this is at least a very promising start for what could become another decade of happily pistol whipping cashiers and fixing drills.”
A promising start indeed!