Arrowhead’s new CEO says the studio ‘knew it would be impossible’ to keep up with Helldivers 2’s demand for new content, is now focussed on adjusting ‘so that in the long term we can make more and better stuff’

Following months spent reacting to Helldivers 2’s unexpectedly huge success, developer Arrowhead Game Studios recently appointed a new CEO, Shams Jorjani, to replace Johan Pilestedt as part of broader structural changes to the company. Now, Jorjani has taken to reddit to introduce himself to the Helldivers 2 community, and outline the direction for the company going forward.

After providing a rundown of his history in the industry (12 years working for Paradox, and a relationship with Arrowhead that stretches back to the original Magicka), Jorjani provides a four-point plan for the future of Arrowhead. The first of these explains the reasoning behind his appointment in the first instance, which is “all about getting Pilen [Jorjani’s nickname for Pilestedt] closer to the games.” While Pilestedt is no longer CEO, he remains the company’s chief creative officer and chairman. Jorjani explains this role means “making new games/prototypes, having more time to play Helldivers, work[ing] closer to Micke [Eriksson] our excellent Game Director and the many other designers/devs we have.”

The second point is to maintain Arrowhead’s relationship with Sony and improve Helldivers 2 “for as many people as possible”. This seems like a tacit reference to those players currently unable to experience Helldivers 2 due to Sony locking out certain countries where PlayStation Network is unavailable.

The third is the most significant to existing Helldivers 2 players, as it details the studio’s adjusted strategy for updating the game. “We knew it would be impossible to keep up with demand and the insatiable hunger for more fun shit to do in/with HD2,” Jorjani writes. “Our singular focus as a studio is to set things up in a sustainable way so that in the long term we can make more and better stuff. We’re building a bit of scaffolding before we can make a bigger barn.”

On this subject, it’s good to hear that Arrowhead is adjusting itself to better fit the game it has made. But I’m not entirely sure about Jorjani’s reasoning here. If anything, the problem has been that Helldivers 2 received too many updates in quick succession, making it hard to keep up with and causing a lot of debate about the game’s balance of fun versus challenge.

There’s also a more obvious question to ask here, namely that if Arrowhead knew it would be ‘impossible to keep up with’ Helldivers 2’s live-service demands, then why build the game like that in the first place? Perhaps Jorjani is referring to Arrowhead’s feelings after the game’s launch, when it became clear its success massively outweighed its proposed scope and the resources allocated to it. Still, I think it’s a bit of an odd thing to say.

Which brings us, somewhat ironically, onto Jorjani’s final point—communication. He believes Arrowhead has set a “great precedent” in being so open and direct with the community, and that Pilestedt will “keep being our BIG voice” while Jorjani will also be paying attention, and together they will “share well articulated feedback about the game internally”. He stresses that “It won’t mean we’ll respond to every thread, whim, or loud voice—but we’re here listening.”