Payday 2 brought 8 million new players into Payday 2's community by giving the game away for free, boosting its year-on-year revenue and hitting a new concurrent player record in the process.
Starbreeze, which owns Payday developer Overkill, launched the giveaway in June this year, when it promised to give away 5 million copies for free. According to the company's Q2 financial report, it reached that amount in 36 hours, and ultimately gave away 8 million units after extending the offer.
The move was tied to the release of Payday 2: Ultimate Edition, which bundles the game with its large collection of DLC packs. The free copies were only the base game, and recipients can purchase the DLC piece-by-piece or as a bundle.
The gambit appears to be working, with Payday 2's Q2 revenue increasing by SEK 8.3 million year-on-year ($1 million). It also reached a new concurrent player record on Steam: 247,628, the sixth highest amount ever recorded on the platform.
Starbreeze's other big product, Dead by Daylight, launched for console during the quarter, which boosted the game's revenue 65% year-on-year to SEK 65.8 million ($8.2 million). Overall, the company earned SEK 122.7 million ($15.2 million) in revenue during the quarter, up 20% over the prior year.
However, it posted a loss of SEK 2.7 million ($334k), largely due to rising costs (up 50% year-on-year) related to, "higher activity in our core business." According to CEO Bo Andersson Klint, "the rate of cost increase has slowed significantly compared to the first quarter as the development teams are approaching full staffing."
Another major cost was the SEK 20 million acquisition of the location-based VR firm Enterspace, though Starbreeze has now signed a five-year deal for Enterspace to supply a new VR centre in, "one of the largest malls in Dubai." Starbreeze Studios will also develop content to be used in the new facility.
The VR centre will require a $10 million investment, which will be provided by Nordea investment bank and Starbreeze and Acer's joint venture, StarVR Corp. Starbreeze will receive between 20 and 25% of future revenue.