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New Low In Layoffs Is Possibility Space Founder Blaming Employees For Studio Closure

New Low In Layoffs Is Possibility Space Founder Blaming Employees For Studio Closure

Possibility Space, a studio under Prytania Media, has shut its doors and all the employees laid off. The sudden closure of the studio first hit social media platforms through posts of now former employees, some of whom could not hide their frustration at the management for the decision.

New Low In Layoffs Is Possibility Space Founder Blaming Employees For Studio Closure

Possibility Space was founded in 2021 by Jeff Strain who is also the founder of Undead Labs, the developer of State of Decay. Some of the former employees who spoke up on social media said there was no prior notice that prepared them for the closure.

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When Possibility Space was created, it was revealed that it would be a distributed team—meaning employees could work from anywhere. Also, it was promoted as a studio that will focus on the creation of AAA games.

“The phrase ‘triple-A’ has a lot of baggage in the development community,” Strain clarified to IGN, “so it’s not a phrase I like to use. It often implies a lack of innovation. Developers are often not viewing [AAA] as a positive. [But] are we going for a small-scale, purely innovation-based attempt to capture a niche market.”

Possibility Space is the second studio to be shuttered in two months by Strain’s Prytania Media. Earlier in March, Crop Circle Games was shut down. Employee posts started showing up before any official statement from management. However, an email sent to employees later leaked online and contained the most absurd reason for the closure. Find the full text of the email below as shared by Polygon’s Nicole Carpenter.

New Low In Layoffs Is Possibility Space Founder Blaming Employees For Studio Closure

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“Late last week I received a list of topics and questions from Ethan Gach, a reporter at Kotaku, regarding an article he’s writing about Prytania Media and the closure of Crop Circle Games. Much of it was expected but I was also 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.

“Mr. Gach specifically credits current employees as the source of his information. 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.

“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 disclose the information breach and 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 cancellation of the publishing relationship and after careful consideration, I am closing Possibility Space. Today is your last day of employment with Possibility Space and Prytania Media. Your final paycheck including pay for work through the end of today will be deposited to your account, along with any other required payments, as dictated by your work location.

“For employees located outside the United States, today will serve as the first day of your Notice Period and your final day of employment is currently scheduled for April 19, 2024. However, all non-US employees – like their US peers will have no work obligations after today. In addition, all employees affiliated through a PEO will have their employment separation processed according to applicable law.

“It will take a few more days to finalize details of the termination agreement with our publishing partner, calculate our tax, insurance, vendor, and contractor obligations, and any other outstanding liabilities, and then determine what we can offer for severance. I’ve retained a D.C.-based global law firm to oversee the wind-down of the studio. An employment attorney from that firm will will soon.

“I’ve retained a D.C.-based global law firm to oversee the wind-down of the studio. An employment attorney from that firm will will soon follow up to your personal email address with additional details, and that person will be your direct point of contact from here on for all matters related to your employment, including continuation of insurance benefits, severance payments and/or associated separation agreements. A copy of this email has also been sent to your personal email address.

“You may keep your development equipment provided you permanently delete all company confidential information, confirm you have done so in writing, and strictly abide by your existing confidentiality obligations, including proper handling of company IP and other confidential and proprietary information. This confirmation will be coordinated through the forthcoming communications noted above.

“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.”

Former Possibility Space employees share their side of the story

There are always two sides to a story. Some of the now-former employees of Possibility Space have shared their sides of the story. According to the account of some of the former employees of the studio, the reason for the closure was due to poor management decisions.

New Low In Layoffs Is Possibility Space Founder Blaming Employees For Studio Closure

“If you see anyone with “Possibility Space” on their page, these are literally the best people I’ve ever worked with, in terms of quality, talent, and humanity,” wrote Charles Randall who worked in the studio as a senior gameplay engineer before its closure.

“They are all worth snapping up as fast as you can. I will never work with another team as good as this one was, and it’s a sad day for me. I loved these people like a second family. We deserved a lot more than to be shut down and summarily fired by someone who clearly doesn’t know how to run a business or interact with humans.”

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Just like most former employees of the studio, Sarah Robertson was also shocked about the closure of Possibility Space. This was evident in her post on LinkedIn. “With this morning’s sudden shuttering of Possibility Space, I find myself starting the weekend looking for new work opportunities,” wrote Robertson.

“My company shuttered its doors today and there are now a lot of amazing and skilled coworkers that are suddenly open to work today,” wrote live director Jennifer Lane. “Please consider them for any positions you have open in design, engineering, art, community, and other roles.”

The closure of Possibility Space is still a surprise to many and will be talked about in the coming days. GameBaba Universe has included a link to the profiles of all the former employees mentioned in this post to make it easy for anyone with open opportunities to contact them.