Payday 3 fans lament its inevitable shutdown after Starbreeze confirms transition to always-online: 'This game is on death row'

Payday 3's criminal protagonists stand on a rooftop overlooking a city.
(Image credit: Starbreeze)

Bad news, wonky internet havers and those of you leading the rich lives of hermits out in the woods: Payday 3's developers have confirmed the upcoming multiplayer heist-em-up will be uncompromisingly always-online. Fans have speculated this might be the case for a while, ever since the game's system specs on Steam started featuring a requirement for a "Broadband internet connection" earlier this year, but it was confirmed by Starbreeze global brand director Almir Listo in a recent stream.

"Hi Almir, will Payday 3 have an offline mode? Like playing solo?" asked a hopeful viewer of Listo's Payday 2 stream yesterday.

"You will be able to play by yourself," answered the dev, "but I do believe you will have to have a connection in order to play".

The reasons for that are apparently tied to the game's cross-progression functionality. Listo justified Payday 3's shift to always-online by pointing out that it's "made in the Unreal Engine, it's using cross-progression [and] cross-play". "I do believe we need you to be online, my dude," said Listo.

Given that both Payday 1 and 2 featured some kind of offline mode—letting you solo their heists with AI help—fans haven't been thrilled by the news that the third game is officially undergoing the transition to always-online. "It's very sad to see them take this route," said a fan named Crust on the game's Steam forums, pointing out that "Payday 3 will be shutdown one day" and become inaccessible thereafter. "This game is on death row".

Those sentiments are echoed all over. "I think 'always online' is like one of the worst features you can have for a game," said a top-voted comment from a fan called Nooby_Chris on the Payday subreddit. Even a player who said they understood Starbreeze's reasoning—a Reddit user by the name of Buncarski—worried about "what happens when the game reaches the end of its support? Does everyone lose access to everything? Will heists be hosted like in Payday 2 or on dedicated servers?"

Other players have other complaints. Some are just worried about their dodgy internet connections, and what will happen when their broadband gives out mid-match. Others fear that this means the total death of the Payday modding scene. "PD2 will live forever cuz of mods," said user ShrekDamage, but "PD3 will live for a few months until Starbreeze goes out of business for how badly they’re screwing over this game". It's, uh, not especially likely that Starbreeze will end up defunct over this, but the comment speaks to a real concern among members of the Payday community.

Still, there were some users who welcomed the news, although almost always with some trepidation. A player named Keohane said that, so long as Starbreeze's servers can handle the load "it'll add portability to save files, cut down on hackers and cheating, and ensure they have good telemetry on what players keep coming back to and what didn't work, all of which I'm more than fine with". Of course, they also promised to "ream [Starbreeze] out" if the servers do buckle.

That's honestly about as positive a reaction as you can find among Payday players, at least as far I can see. We'll have to see if it makes a dent in the game's player count when it finally releases on September 21 this year.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.