Take-Two is reportedly looking to either sell or close its Private Division publishing label

(Image credit: Star Theory)

An IGN report says Take-Two Interactive is looking to either sell or close Private Division, the indie-focused publishing label launched in 2017, and that most of the staff at Private Division have already been laid off.

It was reported earlier this month that Kerbal Space Program 2 developer Intercept Games and Rollerdrome studio Roll7 were being closed as part of a cost-cutting plan at Take-Two; CEO Strauss Zelnick later said Take-Two "didn't shutter those studios," throwing the matter into some confusion. Earlier this week, however, multiple employees at Intercept Games confirmed that layoffs are coming in June, although the ultimate fate of the studio remains unclear.

Both of those games are currently published by Private Division, and the IGN report says the layoffs come as part of Take-Two's effort to either sell or shutter the label entirely. Employees at Private Division were reportedly told in February that layoffs were coming, and then in April most of the staff was let go, after Take-Two said it would no longer support the label.

Private Division has also recently backed out of at least two existing publishing deals, according to the report: One with Silent Hill 2 remake studio Bloober Team, and the other with One More Level, the developer of Ghostrunner.

Take-Two was reportedly negotiating the sale of Kerbal Space Program, with or without developer Intercept Games, to Paradox, but those talks fell through. It's also said to be in talks with a private equity firm about selling Private Division, but those efforts have yet to produce any results. The talks are being "facilitated" by people connected to Moon Studios, developer of the Ori games and No Rest for the Wicked, according to the report. Private Division is the publisher of No Rest for the Wicked.

Purely speculatively, a recent tweet by Moon Studios CEO Thomas Mahler could be seen as hinting that something is going on, although—timing aside—it also works as idle musing about the general state of the game industry. Mahler said he believes the game industry is "in dire need to course correct" because developers and publishers have focused too much on technology and chasing money, and now the industry has "hit the tipping point."

"I am actually extremely excited about where things are heading, even if the industry has to go through a period of pain in order to come out wiser on the other end. That's okay. Mistakes were made and now it's time to course correct," Mahler tweeted. "Always remember that when one door closes, another one opens. Embrace change, because change is inevitable."

(Image credit: Thomas Mahler)

IGN's sources pointed the finger at Take-Two leadership, and particularly chief strategy officer and Private Division label chief Michael Worosz, for mismanaging things to this point, citing unreasonable sales targets and pressure to release games before they were ready. "The pain point was always Take-Two and associated leadership forcing our hand," one said. "The whole layoff situation proved what we already felt. Take-Two could not care less about its employees."

A representative for Private Division declined to comment.

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.