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Starbreeze Studios CEO Steps Down Following Payday 3’s Poor Performance

Payday 3 developer Starbreeze Studios has announced that its CEO Tobias Sjögren will step down. An interim CEO has been appointed in his place, and the search for a permanent CEO is ongoing.

In a press release, Starbreeze says that current board member Juergen Goeldner has been appointed as interim CEO “with immediate effect”, and that Sjögren “will be available to Starbreeze for a smooth transition”.

Goeldner is a 40-year industry veteran who’s served on Starbreeze’s board since 2023. He’s also served as the CEO of Focus Entertainment, formerly known as Focus Home Interactive.

Payday 3 studio Starbreeze has a new CEO.

Starbreeze chairman Torgny Hellström describes Goeldner as “a strong interim solution” due to his decades of experience in the gaming industry. He goes on to wish Sjögren well, thanking him for helming the studio during “a challenging phase of its journey”.

For his part, Goeldner says he’s looking forward to leveraging the “strengths” of the Payday 3 developer as an interim CEO. Naturally, it’s not yet clear who will be appointed as Starbreeze’s permanent CEO, but we’ll likely find out in due course.

No reason has technically been given for Sjögren’s departure, but it’s almost certainly related to the disappointing launch of heist-based multiplayer shooter Payday 3.

The player aiming a pistol at a grid of lasers in Payday 3
Payday 3‘s disappointing launch is almost certainly the reason CEO Tobias Sjögren is departing.

Back in February, Starbreeze admitted that Payday 3 was performing at “significantly lower levels” than the studio wanted. 

Indeed, a quick look at Payday 3‘s Steam player numbers as compared to Payday 2‘s shows a pretty stark contrast; at time of writing, Payday 3‘s 24-hour peak, according to SteamDB, was 378 players, while the same site has Payday 2‘s 24-hour count at 31,866. Yikes.

Starbreeze is currently engaged in a major operation to turn Payday 3‘s fortunes around. It’s called Operation Medic Bag, and it promises overhauls for many of Payday 3‘s core systems, including progression, UI, and stability.

Whether or not the studio can pull this off remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure, though: Tobias Sjögren won’t be at the helm to watch the operation’s progress, nor to oversee the studio’s upcoming Dungeons and Dragons game. Stay tuned for more.

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