UPDATE: Ken Levine is handing over BioShock to Take-Two Interactive.
In a surprise statement on the Irrational Games home page, Ken Levine has decided it is time to shut down Irrational Games for good. After the immeasurable success of the BioShock series, the doors are being shut for good. This means lay-offs for many talented game developers. To me, this looks it has the possibility of getting ugly.
So why is Levine shutting down Irrational? “I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers,” says Levine. “In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience.”
It would be hard for me to believe that there wasn’t someone at Irrational that could have stepped up to the plate, but it may have been a worry that the next BioShock just wouldn’t have been the same without Levine’s input. Seeing as Take-Two owns the company, I would speculate that the decision came from higher up.
Levine goes on to say his next focus is to “make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable”. Take-Two looks to take on this project with Levine, but where does that leave the developers and fans of BioShock?
While all good things must end, it’s hard to see why this was a necessary step for Levine. I don’t see why Irrational couldn’t tackle these types of games that he is looking to make while others work on another IP or another BioShock. I am sure money has a lot to do with this decision as well, which factoring in the costs of making AAA games has skyrocketed, meaning all hands on deck.
So I will put my opinion out there that, while I support Levine’s efforts to pursue his dream, I can’t help but feel let down by the selfishness of it. And I can’t help but feel that Ken Levine has lived up to the literal meaning of his defunct studio… Ken Levine is irrational.
Goodbye Irrational Games. You made some pretty damn sweet games. And let’s see how Take-Two does with the franchise that is BioShock.