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Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead names Shams Jorjani as its new CEO

Company founder Johan Pilestedt remains chief creative officer and chairman

Arrowhead Games Studios has named Shams Jorjani as its new CEO, replacing company founder Johan Pilestedt in the role.

Pilestedt will remain chief creative officer and chairman. The move follows the smash hit success of Helldivers 2, which has sold 12 million copies since it launched on PS5 and PC in February.

Jorjani is a games business veteran and spent 12 years in senior leadership roles at Paradox Interactive. He’s also served as chairman of indie publisher Hooded Horse, and acts as a senior adviser for various games businesses.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Pilestedt explains that hiring a dedicated CEO will give him more time to focus on his love for game creation, while giving the company the structure and leadership it needs.

“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,” he tells us. “I realised that running an organisation 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.

“Over the last year going to launch of Helldivers 2, 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 realise 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 organisation. Having a reluctant CEO is not something that will turn out that well, I think.”

Jorjani adds: “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.

“What I’ll be bringing to the table is organisation 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 organisation, 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.”

You can read more from our interview with Pilestedt and Jorjani right here.

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Christopher Dring avatar
Christopher Dring: Chris is a 17-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who
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