Ready or Not, the tactical first-person shooter from developer Void Interactive which entered Early Access just days ago, will no longer be published by Team17. On Twitter, Void Interactive said the “mutually agreed” upon decision for the two to part ways is “the right path for the future” of the game. Notably, this comes just days after a developer on the game indicated future updates may include a level set during a school shooting.
Currently in Steam Early Access, Ready or Not sees you controlling a SWAT member who, alongside a team of AI companions or real players, must “defuse hostile and confronting situations” such as hostage hold-ups and the like. Having just entered Early Access on December 17, it already has over 8,500 reviews, most of them positive, and many of which see players calling the game a worthy successor to the SWAT series. Still, Void Interactive and Team17 have opted to split, making the tactical FPS an independent project now.
VOID Interactive and Team17 have mutually agreed that Team17 will no longer publish Ready or Not. We are confident that this is the right path for the future of Ready or Not, and we thank Team17 for their partnership and wish them great success with their spectrum of games!
— VOID Interactive (@VOIDInteractive) December 20, 2021
It’s a curious development, made more so by its timing. When asked on December 19 in the game’s subreddit whether Ready or Not should have a school shooting mission in the campaign, a Void Interactive developer under the username Gruntr said “you better believe it’s gonna,” all but confirming the mission’s planned existence. Three days later, the studio is amicably splitting from its publisher. While unconfirmed, people online speculate it’s because of this level’s intended inclusion.
We’ve reached out to Void Interactive for comment and will update if we hear back.
Meanwhile, a Team17 spokesperson told Kotaku over email that it wishes the studio the best, both in its future endeavours and the game’s development.
“Team17 Digital and VOID Interactive have mutually agreed that Ready or Not will no longer be published by Team17 Digital,” a Team17 spokesperson said. “We wish the team at VOID Interactive all the best for the future and the continued development of the game. [We] have [no] further comment on it at the moment.”
It’s unclear just what the school shooting mission will be, should it make its way into the game. The Ready or Not Discord is blowing up with discussions over the still-hypothetical level, with some players suggesting it would be “cool” to play, voicing their ideas on what it should entail, and deciding which gear they’d take with them. Others decry the mission’s possible inclusion, calling those asking for it “a fucking weirdo” while pontificating on why it’s problematic. The idea of Ready or Not venturing into the realm of school shootings is nothing new, though, as a brief moment from the game’s 2017 reveal trailer is taken from the perspective of someone clearly hiding under a desk in a classroom.
It’s easy to see why the topic is so contentious. According to the gun control advocacy nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, The United States saw at least 149 school shooting incidents in 2021 alone, up some 55% from 2020. School shootings are no laughing matter, and they certainly shouldn’t be just some gritty scenario that gamers play out in their shooter fantasies. But Ready or Not would hardly be the first game to court controversy with a specific mission. In 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 made waves with its “No Russian” mission, in which players can gun down innocent civilians at an airport. There’s also School Shooter: North American Tour 2012, a Half-Life 2 mod literally about a school shooter rampaging through classrooms.
It remains to be seen whether Ready or Not’s school shooting mission will come to fruition, but if Void Interactive is committed to the idea, there’s now no publisher that can stop the studio from including it.