UPDATE 6: Today GSC made their official announcement, unfortunately it did not clear up much. GSC said “We will do our best to continue. However, at this moment, nothing is certain,” and “Our website will continue, with the forum & tech support. The shop will continue until the nearest planned items sell out. (uploaded now).” They were unable to confirm if development on STALKER 2 was still on going, or how long they planned to support the site. Rumors is that a further announcement will come next week with info on the fate of the STALKER series. But for now, it seems GSC is down, but maybe not completely out.
UPDATE 5: The official Twitter for GSC Game World has posted just an hour ago that “An official statement will be made on Monday.” It will probably be confirmed then along with the reasons for the closure. Some fans are speculating that this is a PR-ruse but the way this story has developed makes it seem like GSC is truly shut down.
UPDATE 4: Sergey Galyonkin has provided an english translation of his blog post, which clarifies some of his statements. He says, “My friends in GSC believe that the reason for that is failed console publishing deal.” “STALKER 2 was going to become PC exclusive, which isn’t a great future for story-driven game.” Galyonkin does not believe that Grigorovich lost interest in the series. He also says that none of his friends from GSC mentioned anything about government involvement – which was originally mentioned in the Ukranews story. Galyonkin also says the “only thing that valuable in GSC is it’s IP and it is registered outside Ukraine.” Which means that there would not be much sense in the government trying to confiscate their assets.
UPDATE 2 & 3: Joe Mullin, former Social Media Manager with GSC Game World, tweeted to Platform Nation about GSC’s closure, saying “it happened today. To everyone.” Also, that GSC may make an announcement soon.
UPDATE: The original posts on krautchan.net are gone but the links have been updated with pictures of the posts. The concept art seems to have originated on krautchan.net/, a site that uses a BB system similar to 4chan. The german-based boards uses the term “Bernd” to mean an anonymous user. A “Bernd” from Ukraine posted a new thread at 13:05 with some concept art and the text “Hurr”. He followed that post up with some more concept art and the post “GSC closed, all employers fired.” Speculation in the thread that he was lying began immediately, but a moderator quickly showed that he was in-fact not only posting from Ukraine but posting from the GSC Game World domain. The OP wrote again later saying that the studio was closed for “personal reasons” and that Grigorovich “don’t want to sell it to someone” (though this post has not been confirmed to be from the same person). The confirmation of the OP’s posting location and the fact that the concept art seems to have originated from here are both very strong pieces of evidence that seems to confirm the studios closure.
The entire thread is available here as a PDF.
Earlier this morning it was reported that GSC Game World, the Ukrainian developers of the popular S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games for PC , was shut down. Initial reports had little to go on besides a Ukrainian news site and some rumors from inside the company.
GSC denied the closure on their twitter page, but then deleted the tweet. Shortly after that Dimitri Bourkovski, who claimed to be close to GSC (though not an employee) tweeted that the studio was indeed closed. He followed up with a five part tweet saying that “GSC is closing its doors and Stalker2 is frozen.”
Sergey Galyonkin, who may or may not still work for 1C Ukraine, has written a post on his personal blog about the studio’s closure. He says, “GSC is closed, a fact confirmed by all. The team is almost completely dissolved, the state has only a few people.” He cites a failed attempt to secure a console publisher and possible disagreement by the CEO, Sergei Grigorovich, over the direction of STALKER 2′s development.
Most telling is Galyonkin’s post and a tweet by Joe Mullin, the Social Media Manager of GSC Game World looking for work. GSC has made no statement and at the moment all they have to say is “no comment”. It seems right now that this is all but officially confirmed. STALKER 2 is presumably cancelled.
It seems like GSC was in a good financial position, but its possible that piracy damaged the studios financials. Though, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series has sold over 4 million units, which is no small feat for a Ukrainian game developer. Dmitri Bourkovski wrote that GSC ”was as one of the biggest, right now should be around the same size as Ukranian offices of Ubisoft & Crytek (50-70 people).”
The series mainly appealed to a European audience, which may have meant that rising development costs would not pay off for a shrinking audience.
Sergei Grigorovich, CEO and Founder of GSC Game World, was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” this February by Ernst and Young, a yearly awards ceremony with over 50 participating countries. Grigorovich not only led the development of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series but also the Cossacks games, which made him his first million. The young CEO, who reportedly drove a Ferrari with a “STALKER” license plate, may have been instrumental in the closing of the company, best put in the Urkanews headline, “Kiev company decided to self-destruct.”
It was also mentioned in the in the Ukranews.com story that there might be some connection to GSC’s closure and a possible investigation into the company by some government office. Its being speculated that it could be due to tax evasion or some other sort of corruption, or an attempt by the government to seize the companies assets. This is not confirmed however, and poor translations from Russian make it even harder to understand.
The leaked concept art is posted below:
This news deeply saddens me. As a PC gamer, S.T.A.L.K.E.R is one of the modern series’ that really show off the PC’s potential. The game combined a unique setting with a wealth of mechanics in a way that almost no other game does. If you are a true video game enthusiast you need to play the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. It’s hard to have a full understanding of modern game design and its potential without having spent at least a little time in the zone. Farewell, STALKER.