[Multi] Irrational Games is no more

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#1
Fried was the first one I saw to drop the bombshell in the CT.

Ken Levine just laid off almost his entire studio, woah. I dont even care for the Bioshock games but that's gotta suck.

Full announcement:

When Jon Chey, Rob Fermier and I founded Irrational Games seventeen years ago, our mission was to make visually unique worlds and populate them with singular characters.
We built Rapture and Columbia, the Von Braun and The Rickenbacker, the Freedom Fortress and some of the nastiest basements a SWAT team ever set foot into. We created Booker and Elizabeth, the Big Daddy and the Little Sister, MidWives and ManBot. In that time, Irrational has grown larger and more successful than we could have conceived when we began our three-person studio in a living room in Cambridge, MA. It’s been the defining project of my professional life.

Now Irrational Games is about to roll out the last DLC for BioShock Infinite and people are understandably asking: What’s next?

Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one. And working with the incredible team at Irrational Games is indeed the best job I’ve ever had. 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. 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.

I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. I’ll be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two. That is going to mean parting ways with all but about fifteen members of the Irrational team. There’s no great way to lay people off, and our first concern is to make sure that the people who are leaving have as much support as we can give them during this transition.

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.*

What’s next?

In time we will announce a new endeavor with a new goal: 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.

When I first contemplated what I wanted to do, it became very clear to me that we were going to need a long period of design. Initially, I thought the only way to build this venture was with a classical startup model, a risk I was prepared to take. But when I talked to Take-Two about the idea, they convinced me that there was no better place to pursue this new chapter than within their walls. After all, they’re the ones who believed in and supported BioShock in the first place.

Thanks to Irrational and 2K’s passion in developing the games, and the fans who believe in it, BioShock has generated retail revenues of over a half billion dollars and secured an iconic place in gaming. I’m handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative. If we’re lucky, we’ll build something half as memorable as BioShock.

We do our best to update an FAQ in this space as questions come in.

-Ken Levine
*If you’re a 3rd party interested in interviewing some of the best game developers in the world, please contact [email protected]
http://www.irrationalgames.com/
 
#2
Even though 2K is getting Bioshock and Levine's not completely done with games, this news still makes me sad to hear. I'll be honest, if it weren't for Bioshock I probably wouldn't still be into gaming. That game changed the way I looked at story-telling in video games, and Bioshock Infinite set that bar even higher for me. That's why I can only wish Ken Levine and the rest of them the best of luck, because they all deserve the best. RIP Irrational, as we know it right now at least.
 

Ex-Actarus

Well-Known Member
#3
I was never a big fan of Bioshock games ( I played Bioshock and infinite ), but man ! This is a sad sad news...
I've always respected Ken Levine. The guy is a legend and a true visionary.
This is - AGAIN - a reminder that despite the PS4 success, the videogames industry is STILL in crisis !
That's really a pity that the developer behind arguably two of most acclaimed games of last gen, is no more...
:(
 
#4
Another one bites the dust. Never really cared for the Bioshock series myself either, but I can't say I don't know how people who did care feel.
I'm still haunted by the ghost of LucasArts, but at least nobody got laid off (if I'm not mistaken).
 

Tucker

“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”
#5
People get laid off daily in this industry. It's just rare that someone comes out and admits to it.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#8
People get laid off daily in this industry. It's just rare that someone comes out and admits to it.
Of course they do. This situation is just a touch odd. A prestigious studio on a winning streak doesn't usually have one person in management decide they'd like to leave, and then have the entire studio shuttered as a result (Infinity Ward wasn't just shut down because West and Zampella left). I'm not trying to make Levine out to be a bad guy, but that's not common. Maybe if Todd Howard decided he'd like to leave Bethesda, the entire studio would be shut down, too. I doubt it, though, because talent (even big name talent) is always moving.

Hell, I don't think Levine could
just decide to shut down Irrational on his own. He may be co-founder/President, but he doesn't own the company; Take Two does.
 

Koenig

The Architect
#11
It is sad to see the studio close down, but at least they are making an effort to give their employees a chance for future employment.
 

Tucker

“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”
#13
It is sad to see the studio close down, but at least they are making an effort to give their employees a chance for future employment.
"Worked on Bioshock franchise" - help achieved. These guys are going to be in demand.
 

Tucker

“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”
#15
It's news of Columbic proportions! This is the Big Daddy of news stories. People will be singing like Songbird's about this one!
 

Tucker

“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”
#16
It's a good thing we've taken the time to Splice in some news on the boards, EVEn if it's sombre news.
 

Tucker

“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”
#17
I don't know about you guys, but I think this might just be one for the Book[er]s.


...I'll get my coat.
 
#20
Did Infinite not make as much money as expected? I didn't think Infinite was as good as Bioshock 1, but it was critically acclaimed and is winning so many awards.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#21
^
Well, the only figures we're going to get are from VGC (Bioshock on 360 / PS3 vs Infinite on 360 / PS3). If accurate, Infinite did well, considering it hasn't been out nearly as long as the original.

This mass firing (it's not laying people off if they don't have the same studio to come back to) is actually bigger than I thought. I had guessed Irrational had maybe 80-100 people, but they were a 200-strong studio. Again, I'm not trying to say Levine is some bad guy here (Take Two owns Irrational, not Levine, so it's actually kinda ballsy for him to take the bullet and say "I'm winding down the studio" when it's probably Take Two who decides that), but it's really odd for 185 people to lose their jobs when they were on a winning streak.
 
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