In a shocking reveal via the official website for Irrational Games, co-founder Ken Levine confirmed that the studio would be shutting its doors very soon. The studio has been in business for 17 years, it was acquired by 2K Games back in 2006.
Levine had a rather somber reflection on the scaling back and eventual closing of the studio:
“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.”
“Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one … 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.”
Levine considered a typical startup model for his new studio, but instead will form a new studio within Take-Two (the subsidiary of 2K games which originally acquired Irrational) 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.”
In case you were holding out hope that there’s still a future for the Bioshock series, well that’s up to 2K now. In closing, Levine detailed what is to become of the staffers who are being laid off:
“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. 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 third-party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff.”
Despite the downright saddening state of things, hopefully this truly means Ken and the select few he has chosen to lead this new studio will be able to pursue exciting and fresh new concepts, instead of being at the whim of the suits from 2K corporate.
We’ll see what comes of this soon, but in the meantime, let’s welcome Ken Levine and his new studio staff to the grassroots game development community, where they’ll hopefully be able to make the games they truly want. Say it with me: ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF US!