Irrational Games "winding down" as Ken Levine moves on to a new endeavour | PCGamesN

Irrational Games "winding down" as Ken Levine moves on to a new endeavour

Irrational Games winding down as Ken Levine makes new studio

The last slice of BioShock Infinite DLC, Burlal at Sea Episode 2, is about to roll out. It’s the conclusion of the Infinite arc, but it also now looks like it might be the end of BioShock entirely, as Irrational Games is “winding down”.

In a letter on the Irrational website, Ken Levine revealed that he’s starting a “smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two.” Only 15 of Irrational’s staff will be kept on by Levine as he goes down this new path.

“Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one,” said Levine. “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.“

Levine now wants to make narrative-driven games with a high level of replayability, and these games will be exclusively digital. He will still be working with Take-Two. “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.”

While it’s going to be interesting to see what Levine and his small studio will go on to do, it’s unfortunate that this change puts a considerable number of people out of work, especially after developing a critically and commercially successful franchise. However, Levine doesn’t want to set them off without a paddle. “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.”

Third parties are advised to contact [email protected] if they’d like to interview members of the team who will soon find themselves looking for work. 


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Dog Pants avatar
Dog Pants Avatar
4 Years ago

I hope the staff at Irrational go on to other employment and spread the seeds of creativity. Their output might not have been huge but each was notable and brave.

Regarding Levine's desire to make narrative driven games with replayability, I'm curious to see how. Scripted content is one-shot, procedurally generated become repetitive. Player driven stuff is varied but not narrative driven per se. Player created content could work but requires a lot of moderation. Richard Cobbett tweeted that 'replayable' usually means 'responsive.' That's deeper than my definition, but I'd like to see a game capable of reacting to my actions organically rather than by branching scripts. That could be pretty replayable for me.