In late 2019, publisher Take-Two Interactive delayed the release of Kerbal Space Program 2 (opens in new tab) until sometime during its 2021 fiscal year—between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Then in February 2020, it made the surprise announcement that development of the game had been moved from Star Theory Games (opens in new tab) to a new studio founded by its Private Division publishing label, led by "key members" of the Kerbal 2 team from Star Theory.
A reason for the change was never provided, but a new report by Bloomberg (opens in new tab) might shed some light on the matter. It claims that Star Theory founders Bob Berry and Jonathan Mavor had been in talks with Take-Two about selling the studio, but weren't able to reach terms. And then, on December 6, Take-Two suddenly pulled the contract from Star Theory and sent a message to its employees via LinkedIn, encouraging them to apply for jobs at a new studio being founded under 2K's Private Division publishing label.
More than a third of Star Theory's employees made the move to Take-Two, including studio head Jeremy Ables, creative director Nate Simpson, and lead producer Nate Robinson. Kerbal 2 had been Star Theory's only contract at the time, and without funding, it closed on March 4.
Industry analyst Doug Creutz told the Bloomberg (opens in new tab) that the move could have "reputational risk" for Take-Two, as other indie studios might be hesitant to work with it if they feel like the company will pull the rug out if it doesn't get its way on things. But Private Division framed the situation differently, saying in a statement that the change was made for the betterment of the game.
"Private Division opened our own studio, Intercept Games, to bring the development of Kerbal Space Program 2 for our beloved and owned KSP franchise in-house. In doing so, we are empowering our deeply passionate and talented team to focus on quality, and we are thrilled with the progress that they are making on the game," a Private Division rep said. "Next year’s launch of KSP2 will serve as another proud step in the history of the franchise, and we are confident that KSP fans will greatly enjoy where Intercept Games is taking the series."
The Kerbal 2 team said on Twitter in May that, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Kerbal Space Program 2 has been pushed back further, to fall 2021 (opens in new tab).