Even though the series hasn’t had a new release for ten years, Payday 3 hasn’t had the expected effect. It has received mixed reviews generally and a lot of bad ones on Steam lately, and the number of players has drastically decreased. The game had an average of more than 28,000 players when it launched in September 2023, but by October, that number had dropped to just around 6,000. After that, in January, there were an additional ten times fewer players overall, with an average of 655.
Payday 3’s rapid fall is intriguing in part because it consistently lags behind its predecessor. The player count data for Payday 3 shows how difficult it has been to acquire traction, particularly in light of Payday 2’s outstanding results. At least on the Steam platform, the latter has maintained an average of over 25,000 gamers online. Statistics on more calm platforms could differ, but the difference is still quite noticeable. Although this phenomenon is caused by a number of circumstances, some stand out as especially significant.
With the exception of the brief mobile game Payday: Crime War, a decade had passed without a sequel. However, Payday 2 cemented its place in both its genre and the larger multiplayer gaming arena. Overkill released more than thirty DLC packages and other content upgrades over this time, so any replacement would have a difficult task ahead of them. That Payday 2 users choose to forego the headaches and continue playing the game in which they had previously put in a large amount of time is not surprising given that Payday 3 suffered matchmaking troubles at launch.
A sizable portion of gamers welcomed Payday 2’s microtransactions and related DLCs in spite of the controversy surrounding them, which prompted developer course changes. It was difficult to persuade these users to switch to a new version of Payday 2, considering the significant monetary expenditures made in the previous game. In addition, Payday 3 has drawn criticism for having insufficient content, drawing negative parallels with the numerous upgrades Payday 2 has seen over the years.
The always-online requirement in Payday 3 has backfired. The absence of the offline play option in Payday 3, in contrast to Payday 2, added to the chaos on launch day. Because lone users had to join online servers, there was server overload and a host of other problems that made the launch difficult for everyone.