Former Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester has returned to the throne of the company behind games including Crusader Kings 3 and Stellaris. He stepped down in 2018, replaced as CEO by then-board member Ebba Ljungerud, but now he's back. Paradox say that Ljungerud has quit "due to differing views on the company's strategy going forward", which certainly is mysterious.
I feel there's a lot unsaid in Paradox's brief statement that "due to differing views on the company's strategy going forward", she "decided to leave the CEO position with immediate effect". Ljungerud publicly bid a fond farewell.
What a ride it has been ❤️ but now it is over and the CEO torch goes back to Fred. Thanks to @TheWesterFront @PdxInteractive and all of our amazing players for these years, I look forward to new great things to come for the games and the company!— ebba ljungerud (@EbbaPDX) September 1, 2021
"Ebba has done a fantastic job as CEO of Paradox Interactive," said Håkan Sjunnesson, who's replacing Wester as chairman of the board. "During her leadership the organisation, player base and our game projects have been strengthened and grown which give the company a strong base for future growth. We regret that she has decided to resign but wish her all the best in future endeavours."
While it's hard to ascribe events at Paradox Interactive to any one person without knowing all the inner workings, the company did have a lively time during Ljungerud's tenure. They've experimented with subscription models for grand strategy games, with both Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4 offering the option of paying a monthly fee for access to their squillions of DLC packs. They've opened two new studios and bought a couple more. They even seemed to experiment with launching games in an actual decent state, with CK3 coming good out the box - though the state of Empire Of Sin and EU4's Leviathan DLC at launch soon ended that hope. They did sign a collective agreement with unions, though we reported that things had been far from sunshine and roses for some Q&A employees before then. And Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, the much-anticipated RPG they're publishing, apparently got into a hell of a state with narrative lead Brian Mitsoda being fired then development switching to a whole other studio.
Wester moved from CEO to chairman in 2018, at the time saying the company needed someone different in the role.
"I've been with us close to 15 years now," Wester told GamesIndustry.biz in February 2018. "We're closing in on 300 employees, and I see more and more that we need someone who's experienced to take over an operation that is growing rapidly and has large visions to continue to grow. And in that, I see my own role as focusing on, for example, new business areas, things where I can shine and do what is actually of most value to the company, and that's why we're bringing in Ebba."
Whatcha gonna do now, CEO Wester?
Disclosure: Cara Ellison, a former RPS columnist and my former flatmate, worked on Bloodlines 2.
This company has a special place in my heart, and always will have. pic.twitter.com/2oS4khf8HE— Fredrik Wester (@TheWesterFront) September 2, 2021