Take-Two Is Quietly Killing Private Division

Take-Two Is Quietly Killing Private Division

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In recent weeks, reports have surfaced that Take-Two is shuttering Kerbal Space Program 2 developer Intercept Games and OlliOlli World developer Roll7. Now, IGN has learned that not only are these closures imminent, but they are a part of a larger move by Take-Two to either sell off or shut down the entirety of its indie label, Private Division.

Earlier this month, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told IGN that Take-Two “didn’t shutter” its owned indie studios Intercept Games and Roll7. At the time, that was technically true; both studios are currently operational, but they won’t be for long. Speaking to multiple anonymous sources familiar with the matter, IGN has independently confirmed that Intercept Games is set to close on June 28, following a notice period required by the Washington State WARN Act. Roll7, too, is similarly winding down, though a small team remains to tie up loose ends.

Meanwhile, Take-Two wants to offload Private Division, one way or another. In February, IGN understands employees were told layoffs were imminent, but not given specifics on how many, why, or what was happening. Then, at the end of April, employees of the label were told by management that Take-Two would no longer support Private Division, at which time almost all the staff were laid off.

A small crew remains to support the remaining announced games with which Private Division has publishing deals: Moon Studios’ No Rest for the Wicked (which is currently in early access), Wētā Workshop’s Tales of the Shire, and an untitled project from Game Freak. Take-Two has backed out of two other publishing deals it had previously agreed to under the label – one previously reported deal with Bloober Team, and another sources described to us that would have been with Ghostrunner developer One More Level.

The people at Private Division were amazing, talented, passionate individuals who loved what they did.

Though Private Division and its associated studios appear in danger of vanishing entirely, Take-Two is looking for other options…albeit with mixed success. The publisher has been in talks to find a buyer for the Kerbal Space Program IP, with or without Intercept Games attached. IGN has learned that discussions took place for such a deal with strategy game publisher Paradox Interactive, but fell through, and it’s unclear if another buyer will materialize in time.

Take-Two is also in discussions to sell off Private Division, and has found interest from a private equity firm. Though a deal has not been agreed upon yet, sources were aware that conversations are being facilitated in part by individuals with connections to Moon Studios leadership. But two of my sources expressed apprehension about such a deal and its connections, citing a 2022 VentureBeat report alleging “oppressive” work conditions at Moon Studios. One source I spoke with confirmed that “everything” in the report was “true and worse” and another called the studio’s founders “cruel” and “a nightmare” to work with.

All those I spoke to for this story expressed frustration at Take-Two leadership for alleged mismanagement of the label, and called out chief strategy officer and Private Division head Michael Worosz for poor leadership. Sources say the label was often saddled with unreasonable sales targets, and pressured to release games before they were ready, with Kerbal Space Program 2 being a notable recent example. And yet, all of those I spoke to shared feelings of sadness surrounding the fate of Private Division, citing the team’s sincere mission to help smaller, independent studios, especially those that were newer and less established.

“The people at Private Division were amazing, talented, passionate individuals who loved what they did and also really cared about each other as a team and as people,” one person said. “We loved our projects, we worked hard, and we fostered a great environment internally. I would love to work with any of them again. The pain point was always Take-Two and associated leadership forcing our hand. The whole layoff situation proved what we already felt. Take-Two could not care less about its employees.”

Take-Two declined to comment for this piece; Moon Studios did not respond in time for publication.

Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to [email protected].