Overkill’s The Walking Dead will be like Payday, but in a bigger world

The upcoming Walking Dead game in development from the studio behind Payday: The Heist will include cooperative online gameplay and be “Payday-esque,” said The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman at a SXSW panel today.

“I can say that it will be Payday-esque because [Starbreeze and Overkill] are currently doing Payday,” Kirkman said. “But I’m told it will be in a bigger world than Payday currently encompasses. They are going to be learning a lot of stuff from Payday that they will be incorporating into The Walking Dead game.

“There will be announcements about that game very soon.”

Overkill’s The Walking Dead was announced by Starbreeze in August, 2014 with a teaser trailer but little has been said about the game sense.

In an onstage fireside chat with me during SXSW, entitled “Creator Activism: A Discussion with Robert Kirkman,” the man behind the comic and television shows said that one reason Skybound has had such success with the video games based on their properties is because they’re not marketing tools.

“One thing that we are doing, which I think is very cool about the Telltale game and the Starbreeze game and Air game is that they are all licensed games, and licensed games are usually somewhat crappy, but thankfully our’s aren’t,” he said. “The key I think, which is very important, is that we’re not doing, ‘Hey, it’s Daryl Dixon running around shooting zombies, because you like Daryl Dixon.’ Or ‘It’s Rick Grimes doing this because you like Rick Grimes.’ We’re telling our own stories and doing our own things almost as if they are original games.”

Take for instance Airthe upcoming movie co-written and directed by Chris Cantamessa. It has a game that will take place in the same universe, but won’t feature the same characters and has it’s story and entry point.

“So instead of like it being a derivative experience, where you kind of enjoyed a movie so you’re playing a game and it’s not as good as the movie and there is some lame things about it, we’re doing a thing that is its own experience that stands on its own as a cool game, rather than a licensing barnacle to this popular movie,” Kirkman said. “That’s the thing we try to do with all of our things. Try to come up with a way to make it exist in its own right, as opposed to cashing in on the success of The Walking Dead or whatever we are doing.”

Another important element to Skybound’s successes so far is that they don’t try to tie the release of the games to any sort of schedule for the original product.

Games have room to breathe and time to turn into wonderful, standalone creations, he said.

“With most licensed games, the company looks at it as a marketing tool and not a game, and the release date is set in stone,” he said. “The marketing for the game is marketing for the thing, and the game is supposed to build brand awareness. So those release dates are set in stone.

“Most licensed games have some lackluster element to them because it’s like, ‘You have to hit this date, sorry,'” he said. “We’ll just push things back and make it good.”

As the panel wrapped up, Kirkman responded to a question from the audience about Overkill’s The Walking Dead and cooperative online play.

“I think it is pretty safe to say that the Starbreeze game will be online and interactive,” he said. “It is [safe to say] and it is [online] and i just said it.

“Payday is an online cooperative game correct? Yes,” he said. “So it will be it will follow a similar approach. That’s good news.”