CEO Tobias Sjögren remarks on the report: 8 years with PAYDAY 2.
A strong quarter with the PAYDAY anniversary and our highest ever MAU.
I can report that the interest in PAYDAY remains strong and player activity is high. The number of monthly active users (MAU), reached 1.2 million in one of the months of the third quarter. This is the highest level since we started tracking the number of active players in PAYDAY 2 and 200 000 more players than in the third quarter of 2020. At the same time, we increased net sales on Steam, against a strong third quarter of the preceding year. Successful sales during Steam's summer sale made some contribution. During the quarter, sales of the base game increased by 10% and of DLC (add-on bundles) by 4%, and in the first nine months of the year, sales increased by 29% compared to the same period in 2020. In line with our development plan, we released further exciting content from the City of Gold season in the third quarter.
We also saw a substantial improvement in our financial performance in the third quarter. EBITDA was SEK 19.9 million, an increase of SEK 8.2 million on the same period of the preceding year. For the period to September, EBITDA, adjusted for one-off effects, amounted to SEK 59.3 million against SEK 44.0 million in the same period in 2020.
PAYDAY: The Heist was launched in 2011, and the sequel PAYDAY 2 was launched on PC in the third quarter of 2013. This means that so far we have had eight fantastic years with PAYDAY 2 and a full ten years with PAYDAY as a franchise. In August and October, we ran campaigns to mark these two anniversaries. In addition to the usual launch of new content for PAYDAY 2, we treated our fans to a much-appreciated four-part documentary series detailing key events in the life of the game. To date, PAYDAY has been installed by nearly 36 million players worldwide, and we have released over 220 add-on bundles. This is a tremendous level of development and a journey that is still ongoing, along with 7.6 million members of the PAYDAY 2 community on Steam - the highest number for any game on the platform. We are continuing to develop new content for PAYDAY 2 and are planning a series of new activities leading up to the launch of PAYDAY 3 in 2023. I see the high number of monthly active users and the increased sales as clear evidence that the team at Starbreeze has mastered the games-as-a-service model.
At the same time, the development of PAYDAY 3 is proceeding according to plan. We have strengthened and expanded our game development team and are continuously recruiting new staff for our studios in Stockholm and Paris. But we also have several new employees working in other locations and in other countries. Since the beginning of the year, we have welcomed 56 new employees from eight countries to our team.
In order to offer our players even more content and better service, while enabling us to tailor our communication to different customer segments, we launched the first version of our new customer portal - Starbreeze Accounts - in October. Through this system, we can offer our players exclusive in-game objects and incentives linked to current and future games regardless of the gaming platform. The community is the most important resource we have, and we will continue to offer them new and innovative ways to interact with us and other players.
Overall, we see continued strong growth for PAYDAY 2 and on-track development of PAYDAY 3. With the launch of our customer portal, we are working hard to create the best possible foundation for the successful launch of PAYDAY 3 and other future games. The fact that we are continuing to improve our finance performance demonstrates the strength of our strategy and the skills of our team. We are continuing to work on delivering on our long-term goals: to create games where players can collaborate and take part in creating their gaming experience, and to create a basis for launching additional games in the future.