Sergei Grigorovich was the CEO of the largest game developer in Eastern Europe, GSC Game World.
He and his company were famous for two game series. The first was Cossacks, a set of real-time strategy games known best for its scale, pitting upwards of 60,000 units against each other at one time. Popular throughout Eastern Europe, the series made Grigorovich a millionaire before he was 25 years old.
The second series was called Stalker. Its first game, subtitled Shadow of Chernobyl, was nearly eight years in development when it was released in 2007. An ambitious blend of first-person gunplay and role-playing, it featured elements of survival horror as well as an open world that reacted to the player based on their reputation. It received outstanding reviews, both for its gameplay and its narrative, and became a hit throughout Europe and North America.
In February of 2011, while Grigorovich and his team were busy working on the fourth game in the series, called Stalker 2, Ernst & Young, a multinational financial services firm, named Grigorovich Ukraine's entrepreneur of the year. He was the first member of Ukraine's booming IT industry to earn the honor.
Ten months later, on Dec. 9, Grigorovich dissolved his company. He gave no explanation to the staff beyond "personal reasons."
While the games media flailed for answers, Ukrainian news site Ukranews posted the simple headline, "Kiev company … decided to self-destruct."
Polygon went to Kiev to map the fallout from the implosion of Ukraine's most famous game studio. From the largest triple-A developers to the smallest indie team, these are the people of the late GSC Game World and the games they're making after Stalker.