Mikael Nermark, former Starbreeze CEO, dies aged 50

Mikael Nermark at the DICE 2014 awards.
(Image credit: Gabe Ginsberg via Getty images)

Former CEO of Starbreeze Studios Mikael Nermark has died aged 50. Avalanche Studios founder and friend Christofer Sundberg announced the news in a blog post.

"On behalf of Mikael's family, it is with a very heavy heart that we let you know that Mikael has passed away due to cancer. He was a great husband, a great father, a great friend, a great professional and he will always live on in our hearts.

"Mikael fought against his cancer for a year, and he fought hard. His strength under the circumstances is truly inspirational and gives us all a perspective on life. He lived every day like it mattered because it does and that is something we should all take with us as we honor his memory. His laugh, his guidance to us who have worked with him, his calm, his knowledge, his humor, and his voice will be with us forever. Gone, but never forgotten."

Nermark worked at Starbreeze for 11 years, latterly guiding the company through its successful restructuring before resigning as CEO in October 2020 after his diagnosis. Before this he'd worked for Starbreeze in the US, and had a brief stint at Overkill Software.

Among the industry figures paying tribute were Double Fine founder Tim Schafer, who said that "Without Mikael and Starbreeze, there would be no Psychonauts 2."

"His memory will live on through the games we make," added Sundberg.

Among the tributes to Nermark is a Payday 2 mod, itself a follow-up to a previous mod thanking Nermark for steering Starbreeze through troubled waters. It's a new charm for Payday 2 by modder Matthelzor, consisting of a baseball cap and sunglasses combination that Nermark was fond of, named 'The Guardian Angel of Starbreeze Studios Charm.'

Mikael Nermark is survived by his wife and three children.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."