While the game industry is booming and expanding faster than ever, the space as a whole is slightly shifting to better suit an onslaught of new gamers from all walks of life. Irrational Games, creators behind such masterpieces like BioShock and BioShock Infinite, is laying off the majority of its developers and other staff and is bringing the remainder of the talent to a different studio.
Founder Ken Levine announced in a blog post that the rest of the crew that will stay on with Irrational will be folded into a smaller developer inside game publisher Take-Two Interactive. All of this is going down while Irrational Games, a company that's been around for 17 years, is currently working on releasing the additional two, final chapters for BioShock Infinite that was released back in 2013.
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.
So it looks like Levine is wanting to get back to his roots of what the studio used to be, which could be a great thing for the team. He can focus on making the games, and let Take-Two fully handle publishing and distribution for him. This isn't a big shift for the studio, as 2K Games and Take-Two have been involved with the publishing process for Irrational Games for a while now. The BioShock series has brought in over $500 million in revenue for Take-Two. This means we should also see more BioShock in the future. Levine said he is handing over the reigns for the creation of the BioShock universe over to 2K Games.
For those being let go, Irrational Games will be offering financial support and job-placement assistance. Levine even said that there are some job openings within Take-Two for which he will personally help employees set up meetings.
So what's next for Levine & Co? A lot of it is still under wraps but here's what Irrational's founder had to say so far.
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.
...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.
So, while one door is literally closing, another is opening for the acclaimed gaming studio. We'll have more information about upcoming projects as Ken feels inclined to give it. For now, we wait for the final chapter in the BioShock Infinite saga and hope that 2K Games will take pride in what the series is, and we won't see the series end up like Call of Duty or Guitar Hero.