In March, the developer Star Theory Games closed. Before that, he lost his contract with the publisher Take-Two. The studio went bankrupt after the publisher poached half of its staff.

Kerbal Space Program 2

The original story was published in Bloomberg by journalist Jason Schreier. I made a squeeze out of the material.

How did this happen

For the last two years, Star Theory Games has been working on a sequel to the popular Kerbal Space Program simulator. But at the end of 2019, the publisher of the game – Take—Two – sent a private letter to the studio staff.

It reported that Kerbal Space Program 2 was being taken away from the studio. In addition, they were offered to move to a new Take-Two studio.

The content of the letter

The messages came from Michael Cook, executive producer of Private Division (Take-Two publishing label). Another representative of the Private Division confirmed that the letter was sent to all employees of Star Theory.

It came via LinkedIn to each employee separately. Although usually such proposals are made at official negotiations between the publisher and the developer.

The letter said: “This is a very difficult decision for us. We went for it because the current business circumstances may negatively affect the development, quality and integrity of the game. Therefore, we recommend that you consider a position in our company.”

Star Theory staff was offered to move to the new Intercept Games studio. She was given the Kerbal Space Program 2 at the time of sending the letters.

Kerbal Space Program 2Why Take-Two changed her mind

It’s definitely unclear. But the former developers of Star Theory told the following.

The studio started cooperating with Take-Two in 2017. The publisher just bought the rights to the Kerbal Space Program franchise from the Mexican Squad. The original flight simulator game has sold 2 million copies.

The development of the sequel was entrusted to Star Theory. According to the developers, the work went pretty smoothly. Users received the game well at the preview.

At the end of last year, Star Theory asked to postpone the release in order to add additional content to the game. To do this, the publisher and the developer had to renegotiate the cooperation contract.

The terms of the royalties were unclear in the new proposed contract. Star Theory asked to clarify these conditions. And soon, on December 6, its developers received letters from Take-Two.


Three executives of Star Theory have left Intercept Games, including its head Jeremy Ables, creative director Nate Simpson and lead producer Nate Robinson. In total, about 12 out of 30 developers agreed to Take-Two’s proposal.

The remaining team tried to save Star Theory. But she no longer had any game projects, no publisher, no funding. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has arrived. Because of her, many events where Star Theory could find partners and investors were canceled.

Kerbal Space Program 2
The studio did not pull financial losses and closed on March 4.

As one of her former employees noted, Take-Two acted very risky: “They tried to seriously interfere in the development process. Perhaps you (Take-Two) even risked your own reputation. And you probably pull this off when things don’t go the way you want.”

Intercept Games is currently working on the Kerbal Space Program 2. The game was postponed until the fall of 2021 due to the coronavirus.

Let’s add that Star Theory Games was founded in 2008. She released the cartoon shooter Monday Night Combat, which sold 300 thousand copies, and the strategy Planetary Annihilation.

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