Helldivers II developer Arrowhead Game Studios appoints new CEO Shams Jorjani

4 weeks ago 46

A decision of company founder Johan Pilestedt, who will remain chief creative officer and chairman.

Helldivers II developer Arrowhead Game Studios has appointed former Paradox Interactive executive Shams Jorjani as its new CEO, replacing company founder Johan Pilestedt in the role, the company announced.

Pilestedt will remain chief creative officer and chairman of Arrowhead Game Studios. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, he explained that hiring a dedicated CEO will give him more time to focus on game creation versus the business side of things.

“I’ve been thinking about the journey ahead for Arrowhead, the future games we’re going to be making, and running the organization beyond the 120 or so developers we have currently,” Pilestedt said. “I realized that running an organization of over 100 people to however large it is going to get… it means I will [have to choose] between deepening my love for game creation, or the business track.”

He continued, “Over the last year going to launch of Helldivers II, I’ve been pulled more towards the business side of things, and not able to focus as much on the creative side. That made me realize I needed to make some decisions, both for the success of the business but also myself.

“So I reached out to Shams. We had a lunch, and we asked him that if I was to reconsider running Arrowhead for the next decade, and I needed to hire a new CEO, would he be interested?

“After some contemplation and deep anxiety on how things are going to pan out, I finally came to the proper conclusion that I will have to follow my heart. It’s not only right for me, but it’s also right for the organization. Having a reluctant CEO is not something that will turn out that well, I think.”

Jorjani was at Paradox Interactive for more than 12 years, serving in roles such as chief business development officer, vice president of business development, and vice president of products. He is also a chairman of the board and investor in independent publisher Hooded Horse, and an investor in CULT Games.

“When you’re talking to creatives like Johan, it’s not like he wants to retire,” Jorjani said. “Helldivers II isn’t the highlight of his career. Hopefully it’s the fourth best game he ever makes. So the question is how do we set Johan and the team up to get to that in a more consistent manner, rather than skill plus luck plus happenstance… all the things that led us here.

“What I’ll be bringing to the table is organization and leadership. What I did at Paradox, where I joined as the 23rd person and then helped grow the company into the behemoth it was… it was about organization, leadership and business focus. It’s a lot of the, frankly, boring business administration stuff that is a necessary part of running a company, which is hard to do when you’re also juggling the chairman’s hat and the creative director’s hat and also being the one who is in the trenches doing a lot of the designing that Johan has been doing over the years.

“Bethesda has Todd Howard, Kojima Productions has Kojima, Remedy has Sam Lake… but when you ask who is running these companies, who is the CEO or managing director… you can’t name the humble servant [laughs] behind the scenes.

“So that’s the set-up. How do we enable Johan to make more Helldivers, and what I bring is a structure around that.”

Arrowhead Game Studios is an independent game developer based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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