GSC Game World, the developer of the upcoming Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl, is one of the many studios that have been seriously affected by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the ongoing war in the region. The anticipated sequel was at one point scheduled for release this year but, soon after the invasion, it was confirmed it would be delayed into 2023.
The conditions are awful for GSC Game World. In June the studio shared a video recounting some of its developers' experiences during the first months of the war. In that we see the abandoned shell of what was once GSC's Kyiv office, hear harrowing personal accounts of the war's impact, and see senior staff members discuss signing up to the Ukrainian army.
Now Xbox has begun refunding pre-orders for the game, as first reported by Polish site XGP, with a message accompanying the refunds saying that the game has been postponed until an "unconfirmed date in the future." The Xbox Store has also stopped taking pre-orders for the game entirely. This however is not an indication of anything wider than a Microsoft policy of refunding pre-orders for games without a firm release date: why it's happened now is puzzling, but that is the reason why.
This understandably sparked rumours of another Stalker 2 delay, as GSC Game World is currently in the process of relocating its main office to Prague, while the wider conflict does not yet seem close to a peaceful resolution. But GSC tells us that this is not the case.
"We had to postpone the game to 2023 with no exact release date for now," writes a GSC spokesperson. "We made the announcement at E3 Microsoft Extended show, alongside the Dev Diary and intro cutscene. Microsoft refunds preorders for the games with no exact release date. When we announce the exact release date later on, the preorders will go live again for Xbox. Pre-orders on PC (Steam, EGS, GOG) are not affected by this."