Well, this one hurts. Irrational Games is shutting down. Ken Levine broke the news in a post on the developer’s website.
“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,” writes Levine.
Irrational Games will push out one more piece of content. The last DLC for Bioshock Infinite.
It’s tough to digest that one of the top developers behind one of last year’s best games is closing its doors.
Any other reason besides Bioshock: Infinite under-performing doesn’t make sense for today’s news.
So, what will Ken Levine do 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,” Levine writes.
Levine adds, “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.” Another question many are asking, is what happens to Bioshock? 2K will take over the Bioshock franchise.
“I’m handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative,” he wrote. “If we’re lucky, we’ll build something half as memorable as BioShock.”
It’s a sad day for the industry, but this is what happens when companies are public. Investors want to see growth and returns on their investments. They don’t want to see games take years to develop and not meet the lofty sales expectations they give them. They want yearly sequels and microtransactions.
The problem with this approach is that more times than not, quality takes a big hit.