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Starbreeze might not last another year unless fortunes improve

Fingers crossed

Starbreeze Studios don't have enough funds to keep going for the next 12 months and may run out of cold hard cash by mid-year, they warned shareholders this week. The company behind Payday and Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons have been in financial trouble for a while, and took a big hit last year when zombie FPS Overkill's The Walking Dead flopped so hard that the series owners eventually cancelled Starbreeze's license and had it pulled from sale. They do think they'll be able to recover from this and plan to build their future upon Payday but oof, it's a grim situation.

Starbreeze entered reconstruction, roughly the Swedish equivalent of administration, in December 2018. To try and make the company sustainable, they've been figuring out the core of their business, reorganising around it, and cutting off superfluous parts, including shutting down a VR arcade in Dubai. It sounds like they may entirely sell their VR business, which includes the StarVR headset and arcades. They've also sold the publishing rights to System Shock 3 and 10 Crowns back to their respective developers. That's still not enough, not yet.

"The company currently lacks sufficient secured funds to guarantee continued operations for the next 12 months and is expected to have a liquidity shortfall before mid-year 2019 if no additional funds are provided," Starbreeze said in their latest financial report, filed this week. "These conditions indicate that there are significant uncertainties that can lead to significant doubts about the company's ability to continue its business."

Which sounds bad. Starbreeze do say they believe their reconstruction plan will succeed and they'll come out fit for the future. They're clearly in a precarious situation if all doesn't go according to plan, though.

"My main task is to secure financing for the company's future operations," acting CEO Mikael Nermark said. "This involves both long-term financing we can use to build the Starbreeze of the future, but also making sure that the assets we have determined are unrelated to the core business are managed in a commercially viable way. Once this financing has been secured, we will be able to look ahead and present a more detailed strategy for the future."

I hope they manage it. On top of the fact that, y'know, I want people to not lose their jobs, in a selfish way I'd very much like more Payday. Pulling off a big heist in the cooperative robbery FPS is such a thrill, and its story ended up going some weird and wonderful places over the years. You eventually steal presidential pardons for yourselves from the White House, for goodness' sake. Its guns feel great in the virtuahand too. They've been saying since 2016 that Payday 3 was in the works, so fingers crossed.

Payday 2 is free to play in full on Steam this weekend, by the way, and on sale for keepsies.

Overkill's The Walking Dead wasn't terrible, from what I've heard, it was just sloppy and unremarkable enough to recoup their major investment. ("It's far too janky and inconsistent to be worth even half of the current asking price," Nic Reuben said in our Overkill's The Walking Dead review. "I do feel, however, that with a good few months of updates and tweaks, it could turn into a solidly entertaining time for you and a few friends, providing it's on a substantial sale.") It didn't help that Walking Dead fever was years past its prime.

"We are in a challenging situation," acting CEO Nermark concluded. "I stand united with the entire Starbreeze team in the efforts to get the business in order. We have a very strong asset in Payday, which is the foundation upon which we will build Starbreeze future."

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Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.