After Payday 3 Flops, Starbreeze Removes CEO And Looks For 'Different Leadership'

Image: Starbreeze
Image: Starbreeze

The launch of Payday 3 in 2023 was a disaster, leading to poor review scores, a negative Steam rating, and fans abandoning the new game to play Payday 2 instead. Now, a few months later, and after Payday 3 failed to meet sales expectations, the CEO of developer Starbreeze has been removed as the company looks for “different leadership.”

Released in September 2023, Payday 3 suffered from broken servers and bad matchmaking on day one. PS5 players also got stuck playing an older build of the game, too. Once things stabilized, there were still issues. The game was missing a solo option for lone wolves, a way to jump into matches via quickplay, and even a way to vote to kick players. The issues were so bad that the developers announced plans in February 2024 to focus on adding in all the features and content players demanded and fixing the game’s progression and UI, too. Meanwhile, that same month, Starbreeze announced that the game failed to meet sales expectations. According to SteamDB, Payday 3 has fewer than 400 players online most days. Payday 2 most days has over 25,000 active users. All and all, pretty bad! And now, seemingly as a result of this poor launch, Starbreeze CEO Tobias Sjögren has been removed.

In a March 12 post on Starbreeze’s corporate website, the company’s board of directors announced that, effective immediately, Sjögren had been removed from his position as CEO and was no longer part of the company. Instead, board member and former Focus Home Interactive CEO Juergen Goeldner is now the interim CEO while Starbreeze looks for a new person to take on the role permanently. According to the note, Starbreeze’s board decided that the company needs “different leadership.”

“[Starbreeze] has a clear strategy centered around creating attractive games on our own and licensed IPs,” said Torgny Hellström, Starbreeze’s Chairman. “The board’s consolidated assessment is that the execution of strategy needs a different leadership. Juergen Goeldner has been part of the board since 2023 and, with over 40 years of industry experience, is a strong interim solution.”

Starbreeze says in its note that former CEO Sjögren will be around to help provide a “smooth transition.” Starbreeze has had an eventful past few years, including a raid by police in 2018 as part of a larger investigation into insider trading. In 2020, the former CFO of the company was convicted on insider trading charges, though he was acquitted in 2021.

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