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Helldivers 2 CEO Gives Up Position to Focus on Creative Endeavors, Eyes FromSoftware and Blizzard's Levels of Success


Helldivers 2's Arrowhead Game Studios has announced that Shams Jorjani, a former executive at Paradox Interactive, has been appointed as the new CEO, replacing founder Johan Pilestedt, who will now act as CCO and chairman.

Arrowhead Game Hires Former Paradox Exec as New CEO Following Helldivers 2 Success and Drama

Johan Pilestedt Becomes Arrowhead Games CCO with Shams Jorjani Taking Over Overseeing Business


Arrowhead Game Studios has announced its appointment of a new CEO following the success of its latest co-op shooter, Helldivers 2. Shams Jorjani, a former executive at Paradox Interactive, will step in as CEO, taking over from company founder Johan Pilestedt. Pilestedt will continue to focus on the creative and game development side of things and serve as the chief creative officer (CCO) and chairman.

In a recent interview with, Pilestedt explained that the decision to hire a dedicated CEO allows him to concentrate more on game creation. "I’ve been thinking about the journey ahead for Arrowhead, the future games we’re going to be making, and running the organisation 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 means I will have to choose between deepening my love for game creation or the business track."


Jorjani brings a wealth of experience to Arrowhead, having spent 12 years at Paradox Interactive in senior leadership roles and served as chairman of indie publisher Hooded Horse. Jorjani is also a senior advisor for various game businesses. His history with Arrowhead dates back to their early days, having helped launch their first game, Magicka, while at Paradox.

Reflecting on his new role, Jorjani said, "When you’re talking to creatives like Johan, it’s not like he wants to retire. Helldivers 2 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."

Jorjani said he will handle and be mostly involved with the necessary business administration aspects that come with running a successful game studio. "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."

"My job is to enable him and the other creative people to be able to do more games," Jorjani added. "And that’s also what matters to the players. I play Helldivers and I hear my friends ask… ‘are we going to get more stuff?’ And I’m like ‘yes, soon, because Johan will have more time to do it’. ‘We want more enemies!’ I’ll tell Johan."


Moreover, Pilestedt said that when it comes to the overall direction of the organization, he will still remain as its chairman. "So me and Shams are still going to have strategic conversations on how are we going to take Arrowhead into the future."

This leadership transition at Arrowhead came on the heels of Helldivers 2's success, which has sold 12 million copies since its launch on PS5 and PC in February, and has become PlayStation's biggest launch on Steam. However, the success brought challenges, including server and launch issues, as well as drama surrounding the controversial PlayStation Network login requirement, which the team had to navigate quickly.

Discussing these problems, Pilestedt said, "We tried to fan that… but you shouldn't fan flames. I told people to not buy the game until we can manage the servers… but that actually increased the amount of users, unfortunately." He then noted that honest communication with the community is of utmost importance, a lesson learned from past experiences.

Arrowhead Can be the Next FromSoftware and Blizzard


Elsewhere in another interview with, Pilestedt confidently remarked that Arrowhead can reach the status of industry giants like Blizzard and FromSoftware while remaining independent. "We pride ourselves on being an independent studio. We have to see what the future holds, but there’s nothing in the plans where we want to be acquired by somebody," he said. "I want to see how high we can fly. And bringing Shams on board, we have a good potential to realise that future of turning into the next From Software or Blizzard."

Pilestedt offered insights into aspects that continue to contribute to Helldivers 2's success. "I would say it’s the fact that we’re doing something with Helldivers that is outside of the inflection point that the games industry is heading towards," he said after mentioning what's important for different key people in the games industry. "What you’re seeing through these cycles in the industry is people taking inspiration from each other, and building upon that. But that means people are building towards a single point, because you lose something through each iteration."


He continued, "With Helldivers, we made the strong decision that we’re not going to go with the status quo. We’re going to place ourselves outside of that by making a lot of mechanics that are generally not seen in games. We have friendly fire on, always. I think people are surprised that we make games this way. They’re surprised that the responsibility to not blow up your friends is on you."

"Arrowhead’s philosophy has always been 'a game for everyone is a game for no-one', " Jorjani added, highlighting Arrowhead's principle. "That is the company slogan. It’s how our games are designed. You can feel it in every feature. I think it’s one of the big reasons that Helldivers II has been so successful. It feels fresh because it does a lot of unpopular stuff."

Currently, the studio's focus is on maintaining the balance for Helldivers 2 and ensuring its continued success. The studio expressed confidence in its strong financial position and strengthened leadership team. Pilestedt added, "We’re always chasing our tail in one way or another. We have to lay the tracks as the train moves forward. There are optimizations and workflow improvements we can make. We’re going in and tuning the organization to have the team work at a reasonable rate."


Looking ahead, Arrowhead is enthusiastic about future projects. "We feel there we have so much more to give, and so many more games we want to make," Pilestedt said. "The ambition level and appetite of the organization has grown significantly. We now have a taste of blood, and we want more." However, this doesn't necessarily mean rapid expansion or an acquisition for Arrowhead. Pilestedt and Jorjani said that the studio is committed to remaining independent and focusing on the creative goals that drive the company.

Jorjani concluded, "The goal of the studio is to make really great co-op games. We really want to turn Arrowhead into a flagship studio, where people who want to make these kinds of games say to themselves: ‘I want to work at Arrowhead’. When we were growing up, we really wanted to work at Blizzard, it was one of the bucket list places to work at. I think Arrowhead has the potential to be that."

Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead names Shams Jorjani as its new CEO
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