After the last few years, Swedish studio and publisher Starbreeze looked like they were dead in the water. Despite the major success of some of their games, notably Payday 2, many other ventures flopped. A major investment in a VR project dubbed StarVR never got off the ground. The VR firm operated in partnership with Acer to supply VR equipment to Japanese Sega arcades, Dubai’s Emaar VR Park, and Imax VR centers. As of late 2018 though, revenues have fallen and that venture looked asleep on its feet.
Things only got worse as other video game ventures also tanked. Starbreeze put a ton of effort in Overkill’s The Walking Dead, a themed zombie shooter with co-op gameplay. To keep it short, the effort flopped hard. The game was rushed out in a buggy state due to a rocky development cycle, and it failed to sell anywhere close to the units needed to make money. The console port was canned. There were mass layoffs, leaving 60 people out of work. The failure put Starbreeze so far behind the 8 ball that there were fears the company would close. Many blamed this particular project as it was emblematic of the deeper problems at the studio.
Starbreeze entered reconstruction to renegotiate their existing debt and to rebuild the company. It now it appears that effort has worked.
And now, according to statements from acting CEO Mikael Nermark provided to Gamasutra, things are finally looking up. The biggest game franchise in the history of the company, Payday, may be on track for a major resurgence with this news. A third game in the series, so far known as Payday 3, has already been teased. And now it looks like the studio is ready to jump into the development fray once again.
“It has been a toilsome journey for the entire company over the past twelve months, but we are very pleased to have gained the creditors’ confidence and have succeeded in reclassifying the majority of our debts to long-term to be repaid over five years,” says Nermark. “We have also succeeded in positioning the company in a situation where we can look forward to the future and focus on our core business – to develop games within the Payday-franchise.”
“Together with all our employees, I look forward to reaching a publishing agreement for Payday during the first half of 2020 via the ongoing dialogues we’re currently in, and to develop the game into a worthy sequel to the series together with a respected partner.”
Starbreeze has multiple projects in the pipeline, and this reconstruction effort has given them a stable base to work from. Let’s just hope they can avoid the pitfalls like another disaster of a game.