Six months after the disastrous launch of Payday 3, Starbreeze CEO is out as the company says it needs 'different leadership' for the future

Payday 3 trailer still
(Image credit: Starbreeze Studios)

Starbreeze CEO Tobias Sjögren has been shown the door, as the board of directors has decided that it is in need of "different leadership" to take the company forward. The move comes just six months after the catastrophic launch of struggling heist-shooter Payday 3.

Sjögren became acting CEO of Starbreeze in October 2020 following the resignation of then-CEO Mikael Nermark, and was appointed to the position permanently in March 2021. Three years later, he's very suddenly out, and while a specific reason for his ouster was given it sure doesn't sound like the Starbreeze board of directors was happy with how things have been going.

"The company has a clear strategy centered around creating attractive games on our own and licensed IPs," Starbreeze chairman Torgny Hellström said in a press release (via Game Developer). "The board’s consolidated assessment is that the execution of strategy needs a different leadership."

Hellström thanked Sjögren "for his achievements during the past three years," and of course wished him well in his future endeavors, as one does.

There's no mention of Payday 3 anywhere in the announcement, but yeah, it was Payday 3. The launch of the long-awaited successor to the decade-old Payday 2 was one of the bigger schmozzles we've seen in recent years: Lacklustre gameplay was the least of its problems, as deep-rooted technical issues and delayed fixes kept many players from being to get into the game at all, even when they were playing by themselves.

Sjögren acknowledged in February that "Payday 3's sales and player activity are currently at significantly lower levels than we would like," and the numbers tell the tale: Steam Charts indicates that Payday 3's peak concurrent player count over the past 24 hours was just 353, compared to more than 31,000 for Payday 2. An effort to turn things around was announced in February, but clearly it was too little, too late to save his job.

Starbreeze is now on the search for a new CEO, and in the meantime the role will be filled by Juergen Goeldner, formerly CEO of Focus Home Interactive and a current member of Starbreeze's board of directors.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.