Jeff Strain shuts down Possibility Space studio via email, blaming internal leaks to the press


Jeff Strain, the owner of Prytania Media, has elected to shut down another of his company’s sub-studios. This time it’s Possibility Space that has gotten the axe, with workers reportedly being fired via email and because of internal leaks to the press, according to Strain.

The internal email, published via Polygon’s sources at the studio, is once again focused on a still unpublished (at the time of this writing) article regarding Crop Circle Games from Kotaku’s Ethan Gach. According to Strain, the piece included information about a developing title codenamed Project Vonnegut, including details of a publishing partnership and information from confidential all-hands 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. “Given the company’s own strict confidentiality and notification obligations, I immediately got on a plane for in-person meetings with our publishing partner to discuss the impact on the project. 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.”

As a result of the falling out between studio and publisher, Strain has elected to close Possibility Space entirely. Severance details will be determined after the company has finalized the termination agreement with this publisher, final paychecks will be deposited to employees, and workers are allowed to keep development equipment provided they “permanently delete all company information, confirm [they] have done so in writing, and strictly abide by [their] existing confidentiality obligations.”

Additionally, Strain announced in the email that he will be leaving the games industry completely to care for his wife, who previously announced she was ill. What this ultimately means for Prytania Media and its remaining subsidiary Fang & Claw, the latter of which lists Strain as president, is not clear.

Reaction to the news has been immediate, with many developers, industry watchers, and games reporters expressing disbelief, confusion, and anger.

“What a weak, spineless couple of people. You want to blame canceling a game on people leaking information? Just so gross, duplicitous, and I’ll say it again – spineless,” writes Necrosoft Games director Brandon Sheffield.

“This is probably the nastiest sounding CEO layoff note I’ve ever read. Vindictive, petty, small,” notes Washington Post reporter Gene Park.

“We at Possibility Space had spent nearly 3 years building something that might have called impossible. Solving problems that no other games company had solved,” claims a now former employee. “We were doing it well and fast, and our project would have made waves. We deserved more than a spineless owner yanking the rug.”

Others are trying to analyze the decision, including developer Damion Schubert. “I have zero inside insight into this situation but this sounds more like ‘the publisher was so pissed off that he cancelled the game and I am not confident at all we can line up a new publisher in the next six months,'” he posits. “[F]loating a dev team without a deal is extremely hard, and if you lose a publisher, it can be months to get a new one.”

The closure of Possibility Space – and the way in which it was done – is another page in the saga of the Strains’ games company: Earlier this year, Strain’s Crop Circle Games laid off employees without severance, then closed its doors outright; Crop Circle’s shuttering was blamed on a lack of investor interest in its developing title while former Prytania CEO Annie Delisi Strain focused her fire on Kotaku’s yet-to-be-published article about the fiasco.

sources: Twitter (1, 2), Bluesky. Thanks Zenjitzu!
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