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Payday 3 rival Den of Wolves dev says Starbreeze “played it very safe”

Ex Payday dev Simon Viklund tells PCGamesN why they think the newest entry falls short, as their next game Den of Wolves wants to rival it.

Payday £ Simon Viklund: a neon city background with a man glad in black with a gun in front

Payday 3 hasn't had a smooth launch, with the previous game in the series Payday 2 still going strong and the brand-new Den of Wolves, announced at The Game Awards by former series developers, looking to rival it with a sci-fi twist. So PCGamesN had the chance to ask one of the Den of Wolves team, Simon Viklund, what they thought of Payday 3's launch, and how they want to rival it once Starbreeze gets its groove back.

Simon Viklund was the creative director and sound designer on the first Payday game, then went on to act as Payday 2’s composer and the voice of character Bain. Viklund left and co-founded GTFO developer 10 Chambers in 2016 with fellow ex-Payday dev Ulf Andersson. The studio’s newest FPS game, Den of Wolves, was announced at The Game Awards 2023.

Ahead of the Den of Wolves reveal at The Game Awards, PCGamesN asked Viklund how he felt about Payday 3, especially with Payday 2’s player count still outstripping it.

“I mean, Payday 2 is their IP, so they’re still making money from that if people are still buying DLC from their previous game. That’s a luxury problem, really,” Viklund tells PCGamesN. “But they should take the money that they’re making from that game and put it towards making Payday 3 even better, and then, over time, hopefully they can shift it and make Payday 3 the game that you can’t avoid. But they have played it very safe.

“At the same time, it’s so hard when you have an IP and a franchise and you can’t go outside of what people expect from that franchise. And I think they did a good job of delivering on what you expect Payday to be with the tone of it, with the voice lines, the characters, and the type of heists and the mechanics that they have.”

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The struggles of Starbreeze’s newest game aren’t a secret and we even noted how at one point Payday 2 had ten times the players of Payday 3, with Viklund’s words really hitting on the head why that might be.

You can see the TGA debut of Den of Wolves below, which aims to blend the co-op heist action of the Payday series with science fiction to help expand what the genre can do – namely espionage, sabotage, and assassinations.

“They’re playing to the crowd that they have already,” Viklund adds. “I don’t know how that’s playing out. But I thought it was like, yeah, they have a big install base with the previous game.

“I think the issue that they’re struggling with is the previous game is so big, and it has so much content, and the people who play that game have invested so much in the DLC needed. It’s hard for them to abandon all of that, you know, the players, and to start over in a new game that has less content and might be a little bit buggy and janky in places.

“I’m not betting against them. Because we want them to succeed. If they’re better, we are forced to be better, because we realize it’s going to be a little bit of a competition, especially with our history within that company and that IP, specifically. But we’re hoping that it turns out that they can turn it around and be like, building over time. It’ll replace Payday 2.”

While we all wait for Den of Wolves, we’ve put together the biggest upcoming PC games you’ll want to try, alongside some great crime games too.

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Interview conducted by PCGamesN editor Cameron Bald.