Starbreeze AB on Tuesday announced plans to bring its popular “Payday” franchise to smartphones with the help of Universal Games. News of “Payday: Crime War” comes as the company continues to deal with a decision to file for reconstruction, a brief criminal investigation into the company’s finances and the poor reception of “Overkill’s The Walking Dead.”
The decision is the first sign, since that December news, of what direction Starbreeze is headed as it refocuses its portfolio and tries to cut costs.
Mikael Nermark, acting CEO of Starbreeze noted he was just two months into his new role at the company when asked about the future of Starbreeze and the state of the reconstruction.
“We’re moving ahead accordingly,” he told Variety in a brief phone interview. “‘Payday is our franchise and it is what we’re focusing on moving forward.”
Chris Heatherly, executive vice president of Universal Games and digital platforms, noted that the two companies have a long history of working together going back to “The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay” in 2004. More recently, the two partnered on “The Mummy Prodigium Strike” in 2017.
“Starbreeze has been a long-term partner,” he told Variety. “We’ve done many things with them. Right now, both parties are focused on getting ‘Payday: Crime War’ out. Starbreeze is really narrowing its focus on Payday in general.”
Development on “Crime War” started late last year and the game is in a limited beta right now with plans to release it in an open beta in the coming weeks.
While the game is built in the “Payday” universe and features the same sort of aesthetic and approach found in “Payday” and “Payday 2” it is an entirely new game, Heatherly said.
“‘Payday: Crime War’ is not just taking “Payday 2″ and moving it to mobile,” he said. “it’s a rethinking of ‘Payday’ for mobile.”
Nermark said that the decision to bring the franchise to the mobile market seemed like a natural one.
“We launched ‘Payday 2’ in 2013 and we think the reception was pretty good,” he said. “We brought it to the Switch and next we’re bringing it to the mobile audience.”
The game, which is being developed by Starbreeze studio Overkill and Barcelona-based Badfly Interactive, will allow players to choose between heisters or cops and face off in co-op multiplayer player-versus-player experiences. Locations in the game include the First World Bank and Jewelry Store from previous games.
While development of the game is being overseen by Starbreeze, Universal will handle the publishing, marketing, and monetization for the free-to-play game.
“We think that this is the trend of where the mobile market is going,” Heatherly said. “The last year we have seen console IP successfully come to mobile, which was not the case in the past. Because core gamers are mobile gamers as well, we think now is the right time to do some of this.”