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Starbreeze CEO Out After Payday 3 Disaster

The CEO of Starbreeze has exited the company following the disastrous launch of
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.


Tobias Sjögren was boss of the Swedish developer for three years, overseeing its recovery from near total collapse and the release of co-op shooter Payday 3 in September.

Payday 3 was billed as Starbreeze’s next big game, and the developer had high hopes it would enjoy the kind of success that would secure the company’s future for years to come. However, Payday 3 suffered a disastrous launch that was so plagued by server issues that
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. "We are so sorry that the infrastructure didn't hold up as expected, and although it's impossible to prepare for every scenario — we should be able to do better," he said at the time.


Then,
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for its lack of communication, and then just a week later
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. It said in January 2024
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.

Embracer Group, which owns Payday 3 publisher Plaion and
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, said its investment in the game was recouped as of the end of September, less than two weeks after launch. But Embracer also said Payday 3's ongoing contribution to the company’s bottom line would be “below management expectations” due to the softer launch.

Most recently, in February,
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in both sales and player engagement. "Payday 3’s sales and player activity are currently at significantly lower levels than we would like," it said. Improving Payday 3 was said to be the company’s "biggest focus” going forward.


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, but this number has dwindled, at least on Steam, as many more players are currently playing Payday 2 than its sequel. According to
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, Payday 3 has a 24-hour peak of just 378 players compared to Payday 2's 31,866, despite the latter launching over a decade ago. Payday 3 has an ‘overwhelmingly negative’ recent user review rating on Steam.

Now, Sjögren is out, replaced by current board member Juergen Goeldner as interim CEO of Starbreeze. Goeldner's last executive position was CEO of Focus Home Interactive, and has been a board member of Starbreeze since last year. Starbreeze said a recruitment process for a permanent CEO has been initiated.

The board’s consolidated assessment is that the execution of strategy needs a different leadership.

In a statement, Starbreeze Chairman Torgny Hellström failed to point to Payday 3’s failure as the reason for Sjögren’s exit, instead saying “the execution of strategy needs a different leadership.” Sjögren will be available to Starbreeze “for a smooth transition.”

“On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to thank Tobias Sjögren for his achievements during the past three years,” Hellström added. “Tobias took over the helm of Starbreeze in a challenging phase of its journey and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

As for what’s next for Starbreeze, it has quite the job turning Payday 3 around while also maintaining Payday 2, which remains one of the more popular games on Steam. Elsewhere, Starbreeze is working on
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due out at some point in 2026. The untitled game, codenamed Project Baxter, “will carry the signature Starbreeze game cornerstones of co-operative multiplayer, lifetime commitment through a Games as a Service-model, community engagement and a larger than life experience.”


Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at [email protected] or confidentially at [email protected].

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