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'Payday 2' Players Are Hacking Their Way Around Microtransactions

Overkill went back on its word, and players are responding with piracy.
November 5, 2015, 3:45pm
tk
Image: 505 Games

The Payday 2 player community has been in an uproar lately, and if the developer doesn't give them what they want, they might just go ahead and take it anyway.

The cooperative bank heist-themed first-person shooter was first released in 2013, and developer Overkill has sold a steady stream of downloadable content (DLC) for it ever since in the form of extra missions and weapons.

In October, Overkill infuriated players by releasing the Black Market update, which monetizes the game further with microtransactions.

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Whereas with previous updates players could buy specific new items, the Black Market update made it so players earned "safes" at the end of every match, which contained random weapons skins that change their appearance and in some cases make them more powerful. Players can also sell and trade these skins. At first, the only way to open a safe was to buy a "drill" for $2.50, but following the negative response from players, Overkill made it so they could also randomly earn drills by playing the game.

"All I can say is that it serves them right."

Players' main gripe is that the Black Market update made it so paying real money could get you better weapons (what players deride as "pay-to-win"), and that this is true even after Overkill made drills random drops. Immensely popular games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 also employ monetization methods where players can pay to open packs that contain random items, but in those cases the items don't impact how you play the game, only how certain items look; they're cosmetic vanity items.

Payday 2 players are doubly pissed because in 2013 Overkill said: "We've made it clear that PAYDAY 2 will have no micro-transactions whatsoever (shame on you if you thought otherwise!)"

So now players are taking matters into their own hands.

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On Wednesday, a new hack that can unlock all the weapon skins that were added in the Black Market update started making the rounds. It got 730 updates on the Payday subreddit, and at the time of writing, is the top post on r/Games. It's unusual for any game's player community to surface this kind of information because the hack lives a moral gray area.

Players hate cheaters who unfairly dominate multiplayer matches, and while the Payday 2 mod in question isn't designed to harm other players, it does make you more powerful by giving you access to those new weapon skins. It also relies on a hack from the website Pirate Perfection, which allows players to unlock all DLC that's sold for the game and cheat in variety of ways: becoming invisible, reducing recoil on weapons, and more. You can see that hack in action here.

Also, if it wasn't clear already, hacking your way to get parts of the game that you would have to pay for otherwise is clearly piracy, another thing that most gaming communities frown upon, but in this case players don't seem to care. Nobody on Reddit is posting a direct link to the mod, but it's not hard to find if you know to look for it. Also, I couldn't find anyone arguing against it.

As one player put it:

"All I can say is that it serves them right. Overkill, after what you've done to the community you don't deserve another penny from these skins. I seriously hope people will stop buying skins and use this instead (preferably only for the skins) to show Overkill that the community can bite back."

Being caught by Payday 2's anti-cheat system can have consequences. At the least, Overkill can flag players as cheaters so others know, and at the most ban their account, meaning they'd lose all of their progress and any DLC they paid for legitimately. This means it's safest to use hacks like the ones provided by Pirate Perfection in private matches you connect to directly with friends, as opposed to public matches via matchmaking.

However, several players on Reddit said that if you're just using the hack to unlock all the weapons skins, and not using any blatant cheats like spawning infinite items into the match, you're not going to get detected. This makes sense because the most commonly used, most effective anti-cheat software in the business works by detecting improbable actions by players in a match.

It'll be interesting to see what Overkill's next move is. It could either put effort into detecting the hack and punish the players using it, or it could step back its monetization method, which it showed it was willing to do in the past.

Overkill did not respond for request to comment.