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State of Decay producer’s Possibility Space studio has reportedly shut down

Possibility Space, the studio founded by State of Decay producer Jeff Strain, has reportedly shut down – with Strain blaming the closure on confidential leaks by employees.

Strain – who co-founded Guild Wars developer ArenaNet before establishing State of Decay developer Undead Labs in 2009 – announced the formation of Possibility Space in October 2021, describing it as a “modern kind of game studio, where we are creating a joyful game that’s been my dream for many years.”

The announcement also confirmed Jane Ng – lead environment artist on Campo Santo’s Firewatch, as well as an artist on Half-Life: Alyx – had joined the studio as visual director, alongside the likes of Liz England (former lead designer on Watch Dogs: Legion and designer on Sunset Overdrive) and former Waypoint editor-in-chief Austin Walker.

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Beyond those early hints of the developer’s “joyful” debut, no further word on the project has been shared since. And, now, a number of studio employees have taken to social media to reveal they – and all of their co-workers – have been laid off.

Strain has yet to publicly comment on the reports of Possibility Space’s closure, but an email send to staff ahead of their dismissal – as shared by Polygon senior reporter Nicole Carpenter – adds a bizarre new twist to events. In the email, Strain blames the studio’s closure on alleged employee leaks regarding Possibility Space’s “Project Vonnegut”.

“Late last week I received a list of topics from Ethan Gach, a reporter at Kotaku, regarding an article he’s writing about [Possibility Space parent compnay] Prytania Media,” Strain wrote. “I was stunned to see non-public information about Project Vonnegut, disclosure of our publishing partner with details of our business and financial relationship, and details of internal P&L discussions and confidential all-company meetings.”

“Leaks of this nature are typically malicious and done by outside hacking, so to see internal team members under a confidentiality agreement engaging in this was shocking,” Strain continued. He then claimed that, after disclosing the information breach with the studio’s publishing partner, they “expressed low confidence they would be willing to invest the additional resources needed to complete the game, so we mutually agreed to cancel Vonnegut.”

“As a result of the cancellation of the publishing relationship and after careful consideration,” Strain wrote, “I am closing Possibility Space. Today is your last day of employment with Possibility Space and Prytania Media.”

Notably, Possibility Space’s closure comes just weeks after sister studio Crop Circle Games – also own by Strain’s Prytania Media – shut its doors. At the time, Prytania Media CEO Annie Delisi Strain (thanks GamesIndustry.biz) insisted the closure was part of “the successful realignment of the games and staffing at our three other studios”. However, with Possibility Space seemingly now no more, it’s unclear where that leaves Prytania’s two remaining studios, Dawon Entertainment and Fang & Claw.

Possibility Space’s shutdown marks the latest chapter in a year that’s already seen significant job cuts and studio closures across the games industry, with more than 15,000 people believed to have lost their jobs over the past 18 months. GamesIndustry.biz’s Chris Dring recently took a closer look at the layoffs for Eurogamer, offering insight into what, exactly, is going on.

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