The studio behind the successful BioShock franchise, Irrational Games, is shutting down. In a blog post at the developer’s webpage, director Ken Levine explains the reasons for the closure.
“While I’m deeply proud of what we’ve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we’ve done before,” Levine writes. “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.”
But Levine isn’t leaving Take-Two, the owner of publisher 2K Games of which Irrational is a subsidiary. He’s moving on to “a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor” at the company, with just fifteen of the former Irrational Games staff on-board.
The new studio will focus on “narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable” all of which will be solely digitally distributed. Levine notes that he initially considered leaving Take-Two altogether and pursuing a start-up, but that the publisher convinced him to incubate his new project in-house. That’s not surprising given the success and acclaim associated with Levine’s IP.
BioShock generated over a half billion in sales over the course of its three primary entries. BioShock Infinite, which released last year, was met with both critical praise and financial success, making the shutdown of Irrational all the more unexpected.
(BioShock Infinite was Forbes’ “2013 Game of the Year.”)
Laid off staff will apparently be given some opportunity to remain within the Take-Two family after the developer shuts its doors.
“Besides financial support, the staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios. Other Take-Two studios will be on hand to discuss opportunities within the company, and we’ll be hosting a recruiting day where we’ll be giving 3rd party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff,” Levine notes.
The BioShock IP will remain with 2K, all but ensuring that even after the untimely demise of Irrational, the franchise will live on. Perhaps it will even benefit from a new director.
The final piece of BioShock Infinite DLC—Burial at Sea Episode 2—will land on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on March 25th. It will be the final BioShock content produced by Ken Levine and his team.