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Irrational Games "winding down"

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#1 Andrew

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 20:36

A Message From Ken Levine

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

 

-Ken Levine
@iglevine

 

*If you’re a 3rd party interested in interviewing some of the best game developers in the world, please contact chris.bigelow@2k.com

 

http://www.irrationalgames.com/




#2 Brendeth

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 23:53

Mixed feelings here:
One part of me is sad, Irrational was a great studio and the Bioshock series is one of my favourite franchises.
One part of me is scared, I'm scared that 2K might dish the IP out to an unworthy studio and we'll end up with bad games.

One part of me is happy, that Irrational are treating their staff with respect and setting up nice ways to part with the studio.
One part of me intrigued, to see what Mr Levine whips up with this studio.

No Gods or Kings, Only Ken.
 



#3 Praetor

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 00:00

that was an irrational decision.



#4 Audioboxer

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 00:47

that was an irrational decision.

 

It isn't half, what the ######?



#5 trooper11

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 00:52

It isn't half, what the ####?

 

 

Hey, watch your mouth! :p



#6 Enron

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:00

Conspiracy: They're going to team up with Flappy Bird guy and create more Flappy Bird games!



#7 Audioboxer

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:03

np9.png

op9.png

pp9.png

xp9.png

tp9.png

up9.png

wp9.png

 

Hopefully many of the ex-employees get back on their feet.



#8 OP Andrew

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:24

I'm honestly surprised there hasn't been more of an uproar in the GH over this.

 

I'm really disgusted about it personally. No way to be treating your team after 2 fantastic games. I bet Rod Fergusson had wind of this and that's why he left too. He was never hired to help finish Infinite, that's just what he ended up doing.

 

Lucky it's happened at the start of the generation so pretty much everyone seems to be hiring. Lots of talented people to snatching up (Y)



#9 Audioboxer

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:31

I'm honestly surprised there hasn't been more of an uproar in the GH over this.

 

I'm really disgusted about it personally. No way to be treating your team after 2 fantastic games. I bet Rod Fergusson had wind of this and that's why he left too. He was never hired to help finish Infinite, that's just what he ended up doing.

 

Lucky it's happened at the start of the generation so pretty much everyone seems to be hiring. Lots of talented people to snatching up (Y)

 

GAF has your back - http://neogaf.com/fo...ad.php?t=771110

 

Really disappointed, especially after just getting my Bioshock platinum and being reminded how awesome that game is.



#10 neoadorable

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 02:05

Totally agree with Andy - what is the justification? Creative whims are no excuse to mess with the livelihoods of dozens of people, all talented folks. They had hit products, so what's the deal here? This can't be due to underperformance. Confusing, sad, and infuriating decision. I don't want to vilify Levine as clearly we don't have the facts, but this is a bad thing.

#11 mastercoms

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 02:15

I think Ken just wanted to pull a Molyneux, make some news and then start fresh



#12 Audioboxer

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 02:18

Totally agree with Andy - what is the justification? Creative whims are no excuse to mess with the livelihoods of dozens of people, all talented folks. They had hit products, so what's the deal here? This can't be due to underperformance. Confusing, sad, and infuriating decision. I don't want to vilify Levine as clearly we don't have the facts, but this is a bad thing.

 

Quite honestly I bet 2K aren't happy with Inifinite sales/revenue and told Ken the only way out of this is to keep some of your staff or everyone's gone.

 

In other words, a publisher with no patience for another development hell like Infinite again drooling at the yearly release cycle Ubisoft manage with Assassins Creed. Not saying Ken doesn't pull any strings or even aid in this outcome, but he's one man.

 

Would be really good for more digging to be done though, and for us to find out more about WTF went on with Infinite's development.



#13 OP Andrew

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 02:22

I didn't hear the 2K quarter report but from reading Gaf they apparently didn't mention Infinite sales. I hope this decision wasn't down to Ken because I think he's just shot himself in the foot with a lot of people. If it was 2K's decision then more fool them or they could have at least pulled on the reigns a little and told IG to wrap up Infinite sooner / stop the spending.

 

Sadly I can see the same thing happening again a few years down the line with Gearbox, especially when you take their recent history with Aliens and DNF into account. That company must be skating on thin ice as it is. T2/2K will never let R* go, that's for sure, but man I weep for their cheque book paying for GTA6 considering the cost of 5. AAA development is going to struggle if they keep on that path.

 

Edit, AB just read my mind :p



#14 Praetor

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 02:25

It isn't half, what the ####?

?

 

So let me see: game dev company grows, releases famed and acclaimed games, grows bigger and gamer community expected them to release the next hit; only to shutdown so one of it's partners can work with a smaller team on newer and exciting games. This make any sense?



#15 soniqstylz

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 02:32

Quite honestly I bet 2K aren't happy with Inifinite sales/revenue and told Ken the only way out of this is to keep some of your staff or everyone's gone.

 

In other words, a publisher with no patience for another development hell like Infinite again drooling at the yearly release cycle Ubisoft manage with Assassins Creed. Not saying Ken doesn't pull any strings or even aid in this outcome, but he's one man.

 

Would be really good for more digging to be done though, and for us to find out more about WTF went on with Infinite's development.

 

2K doesn't really have any yearly franchises outside of 2K sports.  I don't think they're the type of publisher to push for that.

 

Borderlands

Bioshock

X-Com

GTA and other Rockstar franchises (Red Dead, Max Payne, etc.)

Civilization

Darkness