Irrational Games eviscerated: all but 15 developers remain

Chris Burns - Feb 18, 2014
Irrational Games eviscerated: all but 15 developers remain

After 17 years of game production, Irrational Games’ Ken Levine has announced that they’ll be “winding down” the company. They’re laying all but “about 15” members of the Irrational team, while Levine suggests that though there’s “no great way to lay people off”, they’re pushing first to get those leaving some new jobs.

This is the team that made System Shock 2, Freedom Force, Tribes: Vengeance, SWAT 4, and the massively popular BioShock and BioShock Infinite. In the time since they were created in 1997, the company formed by Ken Levine, Jonathan Chey, and Robert Fermier has changed drastically. In 2006 they were acquired by Take-Two Interactive under 2K Games.


In a letter published today by Levine, it’s mentioned that he’ll be “handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K.” Meanwhile the team that’s resulting in this cut-down will still be inside Take-Two.

“I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it.

I’ll be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two.” – Ken Levine

Levine took special care in his note this week to mention the fact that those that’ll no longer be with Irrational Games will be given “financial support” and “access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios”. Meanwhile the final 15 will be going in a different, more independent direction.

“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.” – Ken Levine.

The words “replayable narrative” will ring true with this new title, suggests Levine. There’s no knowing how long it’ll take to make, but it’ll exist sooner or later, and it’ll be under the Take-Two roof. Sound like an interesting venture to you?

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