Payday 3 | The number of PC players has dropped sharply since launch

payday 3 players

Heist sequel Payday 3 has suffered a major drop in PC players since September, with its userbase having dropped over 90 percent since launch.

The launch woes of heist sequel Payday 3 have been well documented by now, with its 21 September debut marred by server issues and matchmaking errors.

Those bugs might at least partly explain why, despite the game only being a mere three weeks old and counting, its player base – on PC at least – has dropped sharply since launch.

As spotted by PCGamesN, Starbreeze’s multiplayer crime opus now sits at the 153rd position on Steam’s list of most-played games, while its player count has also fallen – look at Steambase, and you’ll see its all-time peak was 77,938 consecutive players. At the time of writing, that figure sits at 3,147 – a drop of 96 percent.

Interestingly, its predecessor – that would be Payday 2 – has vastly more players currently playing it, with 47,704 players logged in as of lunchtime on 16th October. Payday 2 had a lower all-time peak than Payday 3 – 59,467 players – but its userbase has remained far steadier over the past few months. Given that Payday 2 is a decade old, and that there’s a far more modern successor for heist fans to get to grips with, the game’s popularity looks even more surprising.

Then again, Payday 3 has received a much cooler reception from players, with its reviews described as Mixed on Steam – its predecessor, by contrast, has Very Positive notices.

Again, those launch issues may have affected the game’s standing among fans here, and Starbreeze’s decision to make Payday 3 a live service experience probably hasn’t helped its cause, either. As our regular columnist Vikki Blake wrote a week or so after the game’s launch, “… it’s the players who forked out for the PS5 and PC versions – not to mention the shiny silver and gold editions – that I feel most for. Games aren’t cheap, and nor is our free time. The idea of sinking £70 into a game – a game you may even have taken time off work to play! – and being unable to touch it for five days is woeful at best, and cruel at worst.”

Starbreeze has since addressed Payday 3's ropey launch, admitting in a statement that its infrastructure “has not performed as tested and expected” and blamed a “third-party matchmaking partner” for the situation. The studio also said it was looking into a new partner for matchmaking, as well as “making Payday 3 less dependent on online services.”

Unfortunately for Starbreeze, it’s possible that the damage to the game’s reputation has already been done.

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