Development history of Stalker 2

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The company GSC Game World, founded in 1995 by Sergey Grigorievich, is a developer from Ukraine. Although the developer spent his first five years trying to get a Warcraft license from Blizzard to make his own version of Warcraft 3, the team was refused and started developing their own game specifically targeted at the Western market. This eventually led to the release in 2001 of Cossacks: European Wars, a real-time strategy game that made the GSC Game World famous. Then the developer started working on a first-person survival horror game called STALKER, the development of which, like its modern sequel STALKER 2, will take quite a long time.

In total, it took about seven years to develop STALKER, six of which occurred after the official announcement of the game. Introduced in 2001, STALKER was delayed several times until it was finally released in 2007. The upcoming sequel to GSC Game World, STALKER 2, suffered the same fate that was announced more than a decade ago — back in 2010. then the developer had to face a financial crisis, a series of failures and the invasion of Russian troops.

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The difficult history of STALKER 2 development

GSC Game World first announced STALKER 2 in 2010 in a personal statement by the CEO and one of the founders of the developer Sergey Grigorievich. The CEO set a release date for the game in 2012 and announced that the long-awaited full-fledged sequel would use a completely new engine designed to port the game to multiple platforms, not just PC. While the first STALKER and its followers sold over 4 million copies, GSC Game World was still far from being an AAA studio, and STALKER 2 already sounded surprisingly ambitious.

Over the next two years, GSC Game World suffered massive layoffs due to financial difficulties, resulting in a developer 75% smaller than before. GSC Game World was already a small team, and because of this staff reduction, they were extremely overloaded with work on STALKER 2, a project that was already too ambitious for the team. In the end, Grigorovich turned off STALKER 2 and made the difficult decision to completely disband GSC Game World, which was announced in December 2011.

In June 2014, new developer West Games launched a Kickstarter campaign for the self-proclaimed spiritual successor to the STALKER series. West Games, headed by one of the former leading developers of GSC, Eugene Kim, at first glance aroused confidence. But those who visited the Kickstarter page soon discovered that the project is not as legitimate as they thought.

This project called “Area” had only one trailer to show to potential sponsors, which consisted entirely of footage from the TV series “STALKER”. The alleged screenshots of the game’s development were also just assets of the Unity store, which led many to believe that this project was a scam. Despite this, the project still raised its goal, exceeding the $50,000 bar and raising $65,000. However, Kickstarter shut down the project, saying that it violates the rules of the site.

In December 2014, GSC Game World was reformed in order to develop Cossacks 3. With the success of the game, the studio clung to life again, and in 2018 STALKER 2 was announced again, this time using the Unreal Engine. 4. In the following years, GSC Game World was approached by Microsoft, which made a deal with the developer to transfer the game exclusively to PC and Xbox Series X/S. In 2021, the STALKER 2 gameplay trailer was finally shown, and the release date was announced in April 2022, along with information about the transition of the game to Unreal Engine 5.

Earlier this year, Russian troops invaded Ukraine. As a Ukrainian developer with an office in Kiev, GSC Game World has announced that it is suspending the development of STALKER 2 while its employees try to help the Ukrainian war effort in any way possible. Earlier this month, in June 2022, GSC Game World announced the resumption of development of STALKER 2, although the developer is currently in a collapsed state: some of its employees are fleeing the country, while others are leaving to permanently help the military. Currently, GSC is working on STALKER 2 from Prague, and the release date of the game is scheduled for 2023.

STALKER 2: The Heart of Chernobyl is in development for PC and Xbox Series X/S.