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Payday CEO Is Gone After Game's Bad Start And Low Player Numbers

The company's CEO is out after the heist game's poor launch, as title struggles to hit 300 daily concurrent players on PC.


Starbreeze's CEO, Tobias Sjogren, is no longer with the company following the troubled launch of Payday 3 and its ongoing issues attracting and retaining players.

Starbreeze said in a news release that the company has assigned board member Juergen Goeldner to become interim CEO immediately as the company seeks a permanent CEO to replace Sjogren. Goeldner has been in the video game industry for 40 years and was previously the CEO of Focus Home. He has been on Starbreeze's board since 2023.

Chairman of the board, Torgny Hellstrom, said Starbreeze now has a "clear strategy" focused on its own franchises and its licensed games. The board decided to replace Sjogren as CEO after conducting a "consolidated assessment" to reach its ambitions, the company said.

Sjogren is staying on with Starbreeze for the time being to ensure a "smooth transition," the company said. Hellstrom thanked Sjogren "for his achievements during the past three years."

"Tobias took over the helm of Starbreeze in a challenging phase of its journey and we wish him well in his future endeavors," Hellstrom said.

The drastic move to replace Sjogren comes about six months after Payday 3 released in September 2023. The game suffered serious server issues at launch, and since then, the game's playerbase has dwindled.

Mat Piscatella from Circana said Payday 3 did not rank in the top 350 titles in the US on Steam for monthly active users in February. According to SteamDB, the game had a peak concurrent playerbase of 378 people in the past 24 hours on Steam. For comparison, Payday 2 had a peak concurrent figure of nearly 32,000 in the past 24 hours.

Beyond PC, Payday 3 is available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Xbox owners can get it at no extra cost with a Game Pass membership.

In 2021, Starbreeze announced a €50 million deal with Koch Media that meant the game was fully funded prior to its release. The game recouped its development costs in nine days, but the low player numbers cannot be good news for the game and the company, which has historically relied heavily on the Payday series to carry its bottom line.

GameSpot's Payday 3 review scored the game a 6/10. Reviewer Alessandro Barbosa wrote, "Payday 3 features rich new challenges and satisfying stealth objectives to keep you entertained for some time."

Beyond Payday, Starbreeze is making a Dungeons & Dragons multiplayer co-op game that's set to release in 2026.

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