Remember the Swedish company Starbreeze? Yes, that company behind the Chronicles of Riddick games and the original Darkness. They had a few good years in the early 2000’s, but things don’t look so picture-perfect these days. The major projects released by the studio have been met with increasing apathy over the last five years or so. Starting with Syndicate in 2012, games released by the outfit were met with mediocre sales. This effect started to turn around recently though with the first two games in the Payday series. The two crime spree shooters roared onto the scene, with the sequel exploding in popularity in August 2013. leading to developer Overkill becoming flush with cash. In a pretty strange deal, the two Swedish companies (Overkill and Starbreeze) sort of bought each other and set to work on a bevvy of new projects. And now, it turns out that they’re working on a new Payday, the third in the series.
Now obviously, this release is a ways off, and the project could certainly end up in limbo before that time. Starebreeze has been going through a ton of turmoil these last few months. Sure, the first two outings in the Payday franchise definitely gave the publisher a much-needed lifeline, but things very quickly went south in a bad way. After a variety of failed VR investments burned the profits from that venture, the company was left with few options. Overkill and Starbreeze immediately set to work on the project that the executives pinned all their hopes on, The Walking Dead. But since that shooter was plagued from the start with a confused design process, and further hampered by an engine switch, the project was all but DOA. The game was plagued by bugs and just plain bad design, which led to it flopping horribly in terms of sales.
Said flop was so bad that long-term plans for the future of the multiplayer game had to be scrapped. Skybound Entertainment terminated its contract with Starbreeze Studios, leading to a console port of The Walking Dead being scrapped. But that apparently hasn’t stopped the company from planning for the future. Starbreeze revealed that they’re still banking on the future in a new press release on its estimated earnings for the next four years. The graph of expected cash flow estimates that the planned 2022 or 2023 launch date for Payday 3 will force the trend in a positive direction.
Currently, the company is living on borrowed time, as they owe creditors 40 million krona, or £3.2 million. With the addition of the chaos from the failure of previous games, problems kept mounting; as the company struggled with new issues including a criminal case being brought allegedly involving insider trading, and the loss of a large number of staff, they’re going to have quite the uphill battle to turn cash flow positive.