"Cutthroat" Kerbal Space Program 2 Developer Switch Revealed

A story on Bloomberg reports a disruption to the development of Kerbal Space Program 2 caused by "corporate strife." Former Kotaku newshound Jason Schreier describes how Take-Two Interactive pulled funding from developer Star Theory on the space launch sequel before soliciting members of the team to sign on to join their internal studio Intercept to complete the project. Schreier calls this extreme "(e)ven by the cutthroat standards of the video game business." Here's more on the maneuver:
One Friday evening last December, employees of game designer Star Theory Games each received the same unusual recruitment message over LinkedIn. It struck them as bizarre for two reasons. One, it came from an executive producer at the publishing company funding their next video game. Two, it said the game—in the works for the previous two years—was being pulled from their studio.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision for us to make, but it became necessary when we felt business circumstances might compromise the development, execution and integrity of the game,” Michael Cook, the executive at Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., wrote in the message, which was reviewed by Bloomberg. “To that end, we encourage you to apply for a position with us.”

It was strange and disconcerting news to Star Theory’s employees. Normally, an announcement like this would be delivered in a companywide meeting or an email from Star Theory’s leadership team. The contract with Take-Two was the studio’s only source of revenue at the time. Without it, the independent studio was in serious trouble.
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Jun 3, 2020, 22:17
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Jun 3, 2020, 22:17
 
This is sadly a very common business strategy. Partner with a smaller company, get a bunch of work out of them, stop paying them knowing they're not wealthy enough to sue you, wait for them to be on the edge and then either acquire them for peanuts or just grab up their people and assets. I read a book a few years ago on the history of Commodore and this is pretty much how they built themselves up to the powerhouse they were in the 80s. Bethesda and EA are believed to have acquired a few of their studios this way too.

Big business and ethics are frequently like oil and water. And well, look up Strauss Zelnick, the guy who runs Take-Two now. His ruthlessness is legendary.
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Jun 3, 2020, 19:34
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Re: Jun 3, 2020, 19:34
Jun 3, 2020, 19:34
 
Overon wrote on Jun 3, 2020, 18:42:
What stops all game companies from doing this? The optics on this are really bad.

"Sell your company to us, or we'll pull the contract, force you out of business, form a new company, and hire all of your out-of-work developers."

I mean, it sounds like extortion, but only if they actually said the above. Any of our lawyers want to chime in?
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Jun 3, 2020, 18:42
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Re: Jun 3, 2020, 18:42
Jun 3, 2020, 18:42
 
What stops all game companies from doing this? The optics on this are really bad.
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Jun 3, 2020, 18:38
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Re: Jun 3, 2020, 18:38
Jun 3, 2020, 18:38
 
This is ridiculously petty and awful.
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Jun 3, 2020, 17:31
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Jun 3, 2020, 17:31
 
I hope Star Theory owners go to court and win fuck you level money out of this. Take-Two's actions seem beyond despicable.
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Jun 3, 2020, 16:19
audun
 
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Re: Jun 3, 2020, 16:19
Jun 3, 2020, 16:19
 audun
 
So Star Theory’s leaders were in talks about money, it didn’t go well, and suddenly their existing agreement about making a game for Take Two was pulled... perhaps not such a shock to the leaders. I feel really bad for the employees, it’s not fun being in the dark about things like that.

Also wondering about the quality of the game in all of this. KSP is not an easy game to make a sequel to.
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Take2 as it lives and breathes
Jun 3, 2020, 15:05
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Take2 as it lives and breathes Jun 3, 2020, 15:05
Jun 3, 2020, 15:05
 
no text, literally. Take2 is to me always the worst company. Forget EA, forget Denuvo. If you want one of the scummiest shit-houses in game-development, it's Take2. The stories you can google about them are jawdropping
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Jun 3, 2020, 14:59
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Re: Jun 3, 2020, 14:59
Jun 3, 2020, 14:59
 
Well, that sucks. Hopefully devs will think twice before contracting with Take Two. Although the pull of money will likely override that.
"Even after you've had the COVID-19 vaccine, you still need to wash hands, watch distance and wear a mask because you can still transmit the virus even though you're not going to get sick." - NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins
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Jun 3, 2020, 13:59
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Jun 3, 2020, 13:59
 
I didn't know it was Uber Ent. working on this, that blows. They made Monday Night Combat, Super MNC, and then Planetary Annihilation before changing their name... Then the machine stamped them flat.
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