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Payday 3 returns Starbreeze to profitability despite "significantly lower" than expected sales

CEO Tobias Sjögren remains optimistic about turnaround as game's development team focuses on improvements

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Starbreeze has released its full-year financial results, reporting its first profit before taxes since its brush with insolvency back in 2018.

The key contributor was the long-awaited release of Payday 3 back in September, despite CEO Tobias Sjögren confirming the both sales and player activity are "currently at significantly lower levels than we would like."

Here's what you need to know:

The numbers


  • Net sales: SEK 69.2 million ($6.6 million, up 106% year-on-year)
  • Loss before taxes: SEK 91.5 million ($8.8 million, compared to a loss of SEK 12.3 million / $1.2 million)


  • Net sales: SEK 633.5 million ($60.6 million, up 396% year-on-year)
  • Profit before taxes: SEK 207.7 million ($19.9 million, compared to a loss of SEK 54.4 million / $5.2 million)

The highlights

Payday 3 is a crucial release for Starbreeze as the first major release since the company neared collapse in 2018. Despite the game's struggles, Sjögren says that Starbreeze "stands strong, with a strong cash position and a balance sheet largely free of debt."

The multiplayer heist shooter accounted for SEK 36.2 million ($3.5 million) of Starbreeze's Q4 sales, and has generated SEK 477 million ($45.7 million) since it launched in September.

By comparison, Payday 2 accounted for SEK 18.3 million ($1.8 million, down 44% year-on-year) in net sales during Q3 and SEK 139.1 million ($18.5 million, down 14%) for the full year.

Payday 3 suffered from technical issues at launch, with Sjögren previously stating that the "infrastructure on which the game rests was not holding up" in Starbreeze's November financials report.

He described sales at the time as "somewhat lower" than expected, while Embracer Group – which owns Payday 3 publisher Plaion – said the game "performed below management expectations."

However, in comments around Starbreeze's full-year financials, Tobias Sjögren was confident the game can be turned around.

"There are many examples from the game industry, where a problematic initial time on the market is turned into long-term success," he said. "There is no simple recipe available, but a common thread from the positive examples is to take players’ criticism to heart, dare to support your game and keeping an open and honest dialogue with your stakeholders. That is exactly what we are now doing with Payday 3."

Sjögren added that Starbreeze's biggest priority is to focus on the "efforts needed to ensure that the game lives up to expectations," with the development team now working on a range of improvements and additions, including single-player and offline modes.

Looking forward, Sjögren said the goal is to "build a strong and diversified Starbreeze" via a mix of owned IP, licensed IP and publishing other studios' games. In addition to Payday 3, the company is currently working on a Dungeons & Dragons games-as-a-service title, codenamed Project Baxter.

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James Batchelor avatar
James Batchelor: James is Editor-in-Chief at, and has been a B2B journalist since 2006. He is author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games
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Payday 3

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