Payday 3 slammed on Steam by players forced to wait in server queues just to play by themselves

 Payday 3.
Payday 3.

Launch week server headaches have rankled everyone trying to play Payday 3, but the most frustrated are those who don't even want to play the new co-op heist shooter online. Payday 3's always-online construction means that solo players still have to connect to the matchmaking servers to start private heists, which has subjected them to the same errors and long queues as multiplayer heisters.

When I first launched Payday 3 today, I struggled just to get to the main menu, receiving an impassable "Nebula data error." After relaunching a couple of times I was eventually able to start a private, invite-only heist, waiting through about 30 seconds of "matchmaking" despite playing with bots.

30 seconds of waiting isn't a devastating inconvenience, but players have been reporting more frustrating queue times this week. On Steam, Payday 3 currently has a "Mostly Negative" user review rating, and discontent over its always-online design is the primary thumbs down motivator. A sampling of the reviews:

  • "Imagine waiting for an hour and ten minutes and still not being able to get into a private game." —Decoy Felinferno

  • "Matchmaking for 20 minutes for solo play!!" —Punisher

  • "Online only was a huge mistake." —Aquagrunt

  • "No offline mode is a real bummer for us solo players. Queues and lag just to play by yourself is lame." —Kedlize

Some of the more comprehensive Steam reviews also focus criticism on the progression system—it's not popular at all based on my survey of user comments and a quick check-in with our Payday 3 reviewer, who broadly likes the game, but also isn't a fan of the progression systems (or server errors).

Server problems are hardly unheard of during multiplayer game launches, and are often resolved when demand settles down in the weeks after launch, although Payday 3's always-online infrastructure will still disappoint some players for other reasons.

I also think Payday 3 may be afflicted by another modern syndrome, where a sequel initially suffers from comparisons to a predecessor that had years and years to expand and change and acclimatize players to its quirks and flaws. Payday 2 came out a decade ago, and is still so popular today that, at the time of writing, it's sitting above Payday 3 in Steam's Top 100 concurrent players list (#22 vs #26).

A snippet of the Steam Top 100 concurrents page, showing Payday 2 above Payday 3.
A snippet of the Steam Top 100 concurrents page, showing Payday 2 above Payday 3.

"Just like Payday: The Heist, and Payday 2, it's a janky ass launch that they will have to resolve," wrote one Steam reviewer who's got faith that Payday 3 will make it through this in time.

Payday 3 developer Starbreeze has been keeping players updated about the server issues on X, most recently stating that it's "still working on the current matchmaking service outage" and is "hoping to have a more positive update soon."

The developer hasn't issued any bigger statement on Payday 3's launch struggles at this time, and I've asked it for comment.