GSC Game World has reaffirmed its plan to release Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl in 2023 following rumors that the game had been indefinitely delayed. Stalker 2 has been in development for some time. It was officially announced in 2018 to secure a publishing deal and then by 2021 GSC Game World announced plans to release the game in 2022. That release date has slipped, but it's only since the start of the war in Ukraine that Stalker 2 fans have questioned what the game's future might be.
The ongoing Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has disrupted life for Ukrainians in profound ways. GSC Game World, like all Ukrainians, isn't immune from these troubles. A video dev diary shared by the team in June showed how individual developers were impacted, including sharing the stories of several GSC Game World devs that have joined the defense of Ukraine. The development of Stalker 2 became less of a priority than the safety of the developers, but GSC Game World remained dedicated to the project.
The release of the dev diary was accompanied by a message from GSC Game World stating the game's development would continue "after the victory." Official messaging from Xbox would later confirm that Stalker 2's release was now planned for 2023. But there remained questions regarding whether that was accurate given the ongoing war in Ukraine. GSC Game World has now officially confirmed that 2023 remains the studio's plan. Stalker 2 has not been delayed further at this time.
GSC's comment on Stalker 2's release came in response to a rumor stating the game was now planned for release in either 2024 or 2025. This claim was dismissed as "absurd" by GSC Game World and prompted a statement from the company, which says it doesn't usually respond to rumor and hearsay.
On one hand, it would be more than understandable for GSC to delay the development of Stalker 2 indefinitely, whether that's into 2023, 2025, or beyond. The state of the war in Ukraine takes precedence over game development. On the other hand, GSC Game World still has to pay its employees, and to do so work needs to continue.
There's also the issue of GSC Game World's pride in its work. Stalker 2 is a game set in Ukraine, made by Ukrainian game developers. Given the current state of things, Stalker 2's development is a reflection of the team's passion for its country. Stalker 2 is now more important than it may have been otherwise. Setting a firm date for Stalker 2's release in 2023, regardless of whether that's realistic, will hopefully help the team toward that goal.
Stalker 2 releases in 2023 on PC and Xbox Series X/S.