Starbreeze CEO steps down after Payday 3 launch disaster

Posted on March 13, 2024

When it released last year, Payday 3 did not quite live up to the high expectations that fans had of the long-awaited third entry in Starbreeze’s heisting series. With bugs and quality of life issues, the developer has seen itself falling behind on deadlines to provide major patches to remedy the game’s issues. Now, nearly six months following Payday 3’s launch, Starbreeze Studios’ CEO, Tobias Sjögren, has stepped down.

According to a statement on Starbreeze’s website, Juergen Goeldner has now been appointed interim CEO in Sjögren’s place while a search for a permanent replacement is ongoing. “The company has a clear strategy centered around creating attractive games on our own and licensed IPs,” states Torgny Hellström, Chairman of Starbreeze. “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.” Sjögren will “be available to Starbreeze” during this period to ensure a smooth transition.

Admittedly, the writing was on the wall for some sort of change in approach for Starbreeze following Payday 3’s rough launch. The studio found itself apologising for the state of the game pretty much as soon as it came out. The game’s fortunes have not substantially improved in the last few months, with the studio promoting “Operation Medic Bag” in February of this year, which was an oddly tacit acknowledgement that the game is essentially on life support. Many elements of Operation Medic Bag are much-requested features from fans, including an offline mode and solo play, as well as additional performance and user interface improvements.

Payday 3 certainly has an uphill struggle ahead of it to gain credibility. The game maintains an “Overwhelmingly Negative” review average on Steam, and sites such as SteamDB suggest that Payday fans are largely sticking with Payday 2 over its sequel. In addition to rehabilitating Payday 3, Starbreeze Studios is also working on Project Baxter, a co-op multiplayer live-service game set in the world of Dungeons and Dragons set to release in 2026. We will have to wait and see if this change in leadership is the shot in the arm that Payday 3 needs, or if the game will continue to fail to reach its potential.