New Helldivers 2 studio CEO wants to avoid the poison currently destroying the games industry: Publicly traded companies and endless growth


New Helldivers 2 studio CEO wants to avoid the poison currently destroying the games industry: Publicly traded companies and endless growth
By: Posted: May 23, 2024

Helldivers 2‘s new and outgoing CEOs both want to avoid Arrowhead’s becoming a publicly traded company, which is currently destroying developers worldwide.

Earlier today, May 22, Helldivers 2 director Johan Pilestedt stepped down as CEO of Arrowhead Game Studios, transitioning to a chief creative officer role while maintaining his job at the head of the game itself. Pilestedt is replaced as CEO by Shams Jorjani, a 12-year industry veteran who’s previously headed up publishers Paradox Interactive and Hooded Horse.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, both Pilestedt and Jorjani spoke about Arrowhead going forward. “We pride ourselves on being an independent studio,” Pilestedt says, rebuffing talk of Arrowhead potentially going public or being acquired. “The goal of the studio is to make really great co-op games. We really want to turn Arrowhead into a flagship studio,” adds Jorjani.

“But that doesn’t mean we have to be a 500-person company,” the new Arrowhead CEO continues. “In fact, a 500-person company is quite painful in a lot of ways. We will see growth, but growth as a means to an ends, not as an end itself. We don’t have plans to go public. None of those shenanigans. Measured growth that allows us to make amazing games and be a good place to work.”

Over on Twitter, Pilestedt further rebuked speculation about Arrowhead going public or being acquired. “No no, we are not going public! It doesn’t make sense for a dev studio and has never paid off,” the former CEO responded to one user speculating about the company going public.

Game developers around the world have seen horrific, historical layoffs over the past few years, at the hands of publicly traded companies pursuing endless growth. Unity laid off 1,800 employees earlier this year, for example, or the equivalent of 25% of its global staff, while Epic Games laid off 830 people the year before. That’s barely scratching the surface of the layoffs, which include Microsoft shuttering two beloved and acclaimed studios this month.

This obviously isn’t to say that independent developers and studios are immune to layoffs – just what’s clear is that endless growth and sustainability don’t go together, and corporations have proved that with developers time and time again. Pilestedt is right: It’s never paid off for any developer.

After a year of Xbox execs celebrating Hi-Fi Rush as a “break out hit” and saying “we don’t quit” on games like Redfall, everyone wants to know what changed.

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DoctorMorDi

DoctorMorDi

Moderator and Editor