Deliver Us Mars studio lays off all staff after funding efforts fall through

Astronaut holding hand out toward floating robot.
(Image credit: KeokeN Interactive)

Deliver Us Mars developer KeokeN Interactive has laid off its entire team after being unable to secure funding for future projects. The studio said in today's announcement that it has "exhausted all our possible options for publishing, work for hire, and co-development."

The sci-fi thriller Deliver Us Mars, and its predecessor Deliver Us the Moon, are both well-regarded games: Despite some technical issues, we called Deliver Us Mars "a serious display of sci-fi storytelling talent" in our 75% review. But, the videogame industry being what it is—cold, fickle, occasionally vicious—making good games isn't enough to ensure a secure future, and just over a year after Deliver Us Mars went live, KeokeN is in trouble.

The studio actually revealed the looming trouble with a video released in March, just ahead of GDC, which included a brief showcase of five game concepts "in urgent need of investment," and a plea to fans to "amplify our message to find a publisher, an investor, or someone that can help us continue this dream." KeokeN co-founders Koen Deetman and Paul Deetman also put out an open invitation for a chat with GDC attendees.

Bluntly, the video seemed like a desperation move, and it didn't work out: KeokeN said "nothing substantial" came out of GDC, leaving it with no option but to lay off its staff. The immediate priority is "to make sure our lovely team finds a new home somewhere else," but beyond that they also hope to get the studio back on its feet.

"It has become abundantly clear that what is most important to us and our team is you, our community," the studio wrote. "You play our games, you make our games shine, you make us feel special as you believe in us. You have showed up consistently in both the good and the bad times, from our debut Kickstarter in the past to our recent video asking for help. Because of you, we’ve reached millions of people. We have always needed you and continue to do so."

(Image credit: KeokeN Interactive (Twitter))

To that end, they plan to launch a Kickstarter for Deliver Us Home, a sequel to Deliver Us Mars. Details on that campaign haven't been released at this point.

KeokeN Interactive is the latest in a long line of game studios to undergo layoffs that stretches all the way back to the start of 2023, and has continued unabated into 2024. Earlier this month alone, Palia developer Singularity 6 and Company of Heroes studio Relic Entertainment both laid off significant portions of their staff. Relic said the cuts were necessary to give it "the best possible chance to survive in an increasingly volatile industry."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.