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Irrational Games, developers of BioShock series, to close

by Mark Tyson on 19 February 2014, 10:15

Tags: Take 2 Games, 2K Games (NASDAQ:TTWO), PC

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Influential games development studio Irrational Games is shutting down. The studio was founded seventeen years ago by Ken Levine, Jon Chey and Rob Fermier and after the last DLC for BioShock Infinite is rolled out will wind down its operations. Ken Levine wrote in a blog post, discussing the closure, that all but 15 of the current Irrational Games employees will have to find pastures new. A "smaller team with a flatter structure," will work with Levine on new projects.

Levine says that the reason behind the dissolving of Irrational Games is a kind of weariness with the status quo, even though he admits Irrational Games are an incredible team and he is very proud of all its achievements over 17 years. He goes on to explain, "My passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we’ve done before. To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers. In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience."

To work on his future projects Levine will take a small team of 15 folk from the current Irrational Games roster. Staff who are made redundant will be helped with financial support, studio access to polish their portfolios, Take-Two will possibly reassign some staff to other studios and there will even be a recruitment open day for 3rd party studios.

We get a (small) hint about what the new games projects might be like, as Levine says the goal of his new studio is, "To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable. To foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible, we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally." Levine closed by saying "If we’re lucky, we’ll build something half as memorable as BioShock". (no Flappy Angry Birds Crush then…) Also he will provide updates as comments are made on the blog.

As PCMag notes BioShock Infinite was the top selling game in March 2013 and Irrational Games also worked on titles including System Shock 2, Freedom Force and SWAT 4.

HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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Really sad to hear this. Irrational Games was kind of the last remaining link to Looking Glass Studios. I also can't help thinking this may mean some sort of “casual” game is on the horizon for Ken Levine and whoever he deems fit to stay on with him, despite what the article (and by extension Ken Levine) says.
Seems sad, but if they do something great it might be worth it. For the other members of that team who will soon leave I feel a bit more concerned about them, financial aid doesn't always replace what you've put into something.

In other things, I think the next game they will make will contain a “shock” in the title ;)
Seems crazy to do this when they're creating top-notch games that plenty of people want to play. Kind of bizarre really.
It's a really courageous move to close down the studio when they are doing well. Levine must have a really strong vision and I look forward to what they come up with. I highly doubt it will be some casual game.
Either that or he is having a major mid life crisis.
Suspect a lot will come out in the wash. Suspect as the layers of project managers, team leaders, entrenched long tenure finance people grow, output to person ratio decreases and infighting increases. Just a guess - time will tell.

Sometimes just closing shop is tidier than restructuring/layoffs.