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Possibility Space Closes As Studio Head Effectively Blames Upcoming Article For The Closure

Joseph Bradford Updated: Posted:
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ArenaNet Co-founder Jeff Strain’s new studio, Possibility Space has been closed by founder Jeff Strain, closely following the closure of Strain’s other studio, Crop Circle Games, according to an email sent to employees and sent to Polygon’s Nicole Carpenter. Several (now former) developers at the studio have also begun to report the layoffs on social media.

The news is a quick turn of events following the demise of Crop Circle Games, which was closed at the end of March (with reports of its demise filtering through back in February), with many of its developers claiming they weren’t offered severance in the process. 

A week later, Crop Circle Games’ CEO posted a bizarre statement on the company’s website (which has now been removed) trying to clear the air about the studio closure ahead of an anticipated article by Kotaku reporter Ethan Gach. The statement blamed the reason for the studio’s closure on the current state of the games’ industry, stating that the game Crop Circle Games was making was “fundamentally out of touch with emerging player tastes.”

Crop Circle Games Annie Strain

As part of the statement, Annie Strain also disclosed the reasons why she stepped down as CEO as a way to pre-empt any reporting by Gach on the subject. 

Fast-forward to today, and it seems Possibility Space is no more. In an email obtained by Polygon reporter Nicole Carpenter, Strain also mentions the upcoming Kotaku article and effectively blames Possibility Space’s workers for the studio's closure.

In the email to employees, Strain comments that while much of Gach’s questioning was “expected,” he was also “stunned” to see information about Possibility Space’s upcoming game, known internally as Project Vonnegut, as well as details about the publishing partner 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 engage in this was shocking,” Strain writes. As a result, he describes a situation where he flew to the publisher for “in-person meetings” about the breach and where to take things from here.

“During that discussion our partner expressed low confidence they would be willing to invest the additional resources needed to complete the game, so we mutually agreed to cancel Vonnegut,” Strain continued in the email.

As a result, Strain states that, as of the end of today, Possibility Space is being closed. Strain also touches on what this means for both US and non-US workers, as well as whether or not they can even offer severance pay, which Strain mentions will be handled from this point forward through a D.C.-based law firm.

Strain sends off his email by stating that he is stepping away from the games industry entirely now to focus on “family and care for Annie.”

It’s a weird, and by all accounts, a pretty vindictive-reading layoff note from a CEO who once heralded the need for game developers to unionize following the fallout of Blizzard's sexual harassment scandal. This also doesn't touch on the future of Prytania Media, the company formed by Strain and his wife to oversee the four studios under their umbrella, which, by all accounts, two remain, Dawon Entertainment and Fang & Claw. As of this morning, Prytania Media's website no longer works

It should also be noted that the Kotaku report referenced by both statements has yet to be published.  


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore