Prytania Media Reportedly Shuts Down Possibility Space, Founder Seemingly Blames Employees For Leaking Information As Reason For Shutdown


Possibility Space, a studio founded in 2021 by Prytania Media that was, according to its website was building something with the intention of “bringing the freedom and fun of roleplaying with your friends to video game players everywhere,” has reportedly been shut down, and all its employees have been laid off.

The news comes from now-former Possibility Space employees confirming the shutdown on social media, and another developer who confirmed it separately to GI.Biz.

Prytania Media also shut down another of its studios, Crop Circle Games, on March 25, 2024, making this the second studio shut down by Prytania Media in less than a month.

As far as to why Possibility Space is being shuttered, in an email allegedly sent from Prytania Media co-founder Jeff Strain to Possibility Space employees obtained by Polygon, he cites a security breach involving an unpublished report from Kotaku as the catalyst for the studios shut down.

Strain said he received a list of questions regarding the story from the reporter working on it, Ethan Gach, and saw the story would include details about Possibility Space’s debut project, including its currently unknown publishing partner, and details of discussions from “all-company meetings.”

After learning of the breach, Strain says he then met with their publishing partner to discuss the breach’s impact, and after the partner expressed “low confidence” in being able to provide more resources to help Possibility Space develop its debut title, Strain says they mutually agreed to cancel the game codenamed Project Vonnegut.

It was that cancellation which led Strain to the decision to shut down Possibility Space, creating a through-line which, from Strain’s telling of it, ultimately blames the employee(s) responsible for leaking information as to what led to the shutdown.

Taking a bit of a step back, Prytania Media was founded in 2021 by husband and wife Jeff Strain and Annie Delisi Strain, who had previously founded the State Of Decay studio Undead Labs and the Guild Wars studio ArenaNet.

Between 2021 and 2022, Prytania Media announced the founding of four studios: Crop Circle Games, Possibility Space, Fang & Claw, and Dawon Entertainment. The first three were said to have been working on AAA games presumably meant for consoles and PC, while Dawon Entertainment was singled out as working on mobile titles.

None of these studios have yet to release a game, yet two of them have already been shut down. When Crop Circle Games was shuttered, Annie Delisi Strain published a statement to the company’s website which has since been taken offline, where she references an economic downturn for the games industry being more than just another economic cycle, but a “permanent and sustained alteration and contraction of the industry.”

She further went on to say that the Crop Circle team was “incredibly likable, their chemistry and enthusiasm for each other absolutely delightful,” while what would’ve been its debut project was said to have had “a whimsy and playfulness that was hard not to root for.”

Despite all this, Annie Delisis Strain claimed “the game did not have core features that have emerged as requirements to be competitive in today’s hyper aggressive market.”

She also claims that Crop Circle Games being unable to secure funding was “in contrast to our other studios,” and that “there was not a single organization of any kind willing to invest in continued game development,” regarding Crop Circle Games.

Above her statement was one simply from Prytania Media, saying “the Crop Circle Games game concept and execution did not find financial support for further development. Player tastes and market conditions have changed rapidly since the pandemic-era start of the studio and the game simply was not commercially viable.”

Another main point in Annie Delisi Strain’s statement she addresses at the top, is her being made aware of the same currently unpublished article said to be incoming from Kotaku her husband cited in his email from today.

“I got a text this afternoon that Ethan Gach of Kotaku is writing an article about the closure of Crop Circle Games, one of the four studios under my care as the former CEO and owner of Prytania Media,” she began her statement with.

She then said that the Kotaku reporter in question Ethan Gach had not contacted her regarding the article they’re working on, which she called “surprising considering the fact that I was CEO of this company for two years and retain majority ownership.”

Annie Delisis Strain also said that she wasn’t aware of the content in Gach’s currently unpublished report, though as a way to break the news herself before it was potentially revealed by a stranger, she made her health struggles with MS public knowledge, and revealed it was the reason for her stepping down from her role as CEO of Crop Circle Games.

From there, stepping back into today, at time of writing the closure of Possibility Space has been confirmed by its now former employees, Prytania Media has yet to release an official statement on the matter.

It’s currently unknown what will happen to the remaining Prytania Media studios, but things don’t look good, as Jeff Strain signs off his email to employees regarding the shuttering of Possibility Space by saying “As of today, I am stepping away from the game industry to focus on my family and care for Annie. I wish all of you the best as you navigate this complex industry and the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

This could mean that the entirety of Prytania Media is closing, and its remaining studios, unless Prytania is able to find a buyer for either one to keep the teams alive.

Another thing to note is that sometime between work on this article beginning and before it could be published, the website for Possibility Space has been taken offline. Websites for Dawon Entertainment and Fang & Claw remain live.

Firstly it’s upsetting to once again see so even more developers impacted by layoffs, and hopefully those who have been affected are able to land on their feet soon.

Secondly, it’s interesting that while both Jeff and Annie Strain make mention of the unpublished Kotaku article, neither accurately depict what the articles focus is.

Annie Delisi Strain first describes the article as one where Kotaku is looking to find out more about Crop Circle Games closing, which she then presumes will include information on her recent health diagnosis.

It’s more likely the article deals with more factors than just the diminishing health of its former CEO, if that was going to be mentioned. Entire studios generally don’t close because of one person’s sudden inability to execute their role due to health constraints.

Jeff Strain says what he encountered in the questions sent by Kotaku’s Ethan Gach was “expected,” before going on about how he was “stunned” to find information that could have only been leaked by employees in the hands of someone outside the company. He also says the article regards the closure of Crop Circle Games.

Furthermore Jeff Strain’s email to Possibility Space employees doesn’t attempt to claim that the project Possibility Space was working on lacked commercial viability in the same way that Annie Delisi Strain did in her statement regarding the shut down of Crop Circle Games.

All Jeff Strain mentions is the security breach, and the alleged “low confidence” from the publishing partner in its ability to keep providing resources to Possibility Space.

While guesses and speculation can be put forth, it’s currently unclear as to why Prytania Media has shuttered two studios within a month. It’s also unclear as to what exactly the unpublished Kotaku article will be focused on.

It is clear however that the Strains were not pleased with its content, and it could very well be the case that Kotaku’s report is the ‘tell-all’ that paints a full picture of Prytania Media’s demise.

Source – [GamesIndustry.Biz, Polygon senior reporter Nicole Carpenter on Twitter]

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