PayneReactor was founded by Kristian Brynie Hollund in 1999. The website originated as a fan site for the Max Payne videogame. Hollund had started the website out of his great interest in the game as well as his love for web design. Back then, the website was called ‘Insane Payne’ and proved to be quite popular. Hollund’s insight into how the game would turn out (thanks to a good relationship with Remedy Entertainment, the developers of the first Max Payne game) and the decent amount of visitors the website received after launch, gained the interest of GameReactor. In 2001 Hollund was eventually approached by GameReactor and agreed to put the website under their supervision, naming it ‘PayneReactor’. To celebrate the cooperation, Hollund was sent to Remedy Entertainment for an interview which GameReactor translated to many languages, further increasing the popularity of PayneReactor in many countries.

Payne is the name of our game

In the month Max Payne launched, the website had millions of unique visitors in that period alone. The increased popularity also increased the maintenance workload. Holland was forced to request the help of the Max Payne community. Shortly after, Patrick Streutjens joined as second in command. By the time Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne was announced Hollund started running the website independently again, keeping the PayneReactor name. The website received great support from the game’s publisher, Rockstar Games, and Hollund was even invited to preview the game in New York before launch.

Since the launch of Max Payne 2 in October 2003, there’s been a lot of activity in the game’s modding scene as well as various film projects inspired by the videogames. After 2006 the biggest modding projects were either finished or abandoned, leaving the community silent. The absence of a new Max Payne game also ensured interest in the franchise slowly died. The popularity of the website declined. However, PayneReactor endured, out of love for the franchise, and believing the series would continue. Max Payne was eventually announced in 2009, but would not release until May 2012. The announcement of the new title and a redesign of the website rekindled a lot of interest in PayneReactor. A few months ahead of the release of Max Payne3, Kristian and Patrick were invited yet another time by Rockstar Games for a hands-on preview of the game in New York.

There's a new sheriff in town.

In November 2013, after 14 years of running PayneReactor as Editor-in-Chief, Kristian announced his retirement from the site due to time-consuming work and hobbies. Streutjens, believing PayneReactor to be a crucial part of the Max Payne legacy, immediately stepped in to keep the website online. Hollund agreed, leaving the reign now in the hands of his trusty protégé. 2014 marked the year of PayneReactor’s 15th anniversary. The event was celebrated with the help of Remedy Entertainment and Rockstar Games, organizing a big giveaway contest. Max Payne fans from all over the world participated by sharing their most cherished Max Payne memories. Over 20 prizes were shipped, each containing rare Max Payne collector’s items.

However, with the future of the Max Payne franchise now unknown, something Streutjens believed to be necessary in order to keep PayneReactor relevant, was to further expand the website to feature more story-rich videogames. And so, videogames like Alan Wake and Red Dead Redemption started to have a more prominent place on the website. In late November 2015, Streutjens was invited to Cologne by Remedy Entertainment for a behind-closed-doors preview of their upcoming videogame Quantum Break. Although he’s receiving their undying support for years, this marked the first time Streutjens was able to meet with many employees of Remedy (like Sam Lake and Thomas Puha), who all praised the site still exists today. It’s not going anywhere but forward.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often

And forward it was forced to go, as time and technology are constantly on the move. In early 2017 PayneReactor received its biggest re-design yet to make sure the website was compatible with mobile devices. Along with the re-design came an even further dissociation with the Max Payne franchise. Max Payne now has become an icon for the website, a mascot, to serve as a landmark for the gamer that is interested in story-rich videogames. With that said, Remedy Entertainment and Rockstar Games remain to be the pioneers of the genre and their bond with the website has become ever so important.