Irrational Games restructuring, all but 15 members leaving

BioShock series creator Ken Levine is closing the doors to Irrational Games and will take an unspecified new role with Take-Two. Most of the remainder of Irrational's staff will be laid off.

27

With BioShock Infinite about to conclude its final story, series creator Ken Levine made the shocking announcement that developer Irrational Games will be restructuring significantly. Levine and a select few others will take new roles within parent organization Take-Two, while the remainder of Irrational's staff will be laid off.

"I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it," Levine said in the announcement. "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."

He explained, "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."

Levine plans to transition to an unspecified new role that involves "narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable." He adds that any new projects will be exclusively downloadable. It is unclear if the new venture will continue with the Irrational Games banner. He noted that 2K will take the reins of the BioShock universe, so this may not be the end for the series.

He added that other Take-Two will try to help affected members land new jobs, whether elsewhere within 2K or with other developers, for whom it plans to hold a recruiting day.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 18, 2014 10:15 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Irrational Games restructuring, all but 15 members leaving.

    BioShock series creator Ken Levine is closing the doors to Irrational Games and will take an unspecified new role with Take-Two. Most of the remainder of Irrational's staff will be laid off.

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 10:32 AM

      wtf that sucks, I guess Bioshock is dead for good then.

      • reply
        February 18, 2014 10:34 AM

        Well, not exactly.

        "I’m handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K..."

        Think of the next one as the Halo 4 or the Gears of War: Judgment of the series.

        • reply
          February 18, 2014 10:36 AM

          That's good, the guy is good at leading new IPs

        • reply
          February 18, 2014 11:21 AM

          So it will disappoint?

        • reply
          February 18, 2014 11:24 AM

          So it will be as bad as the second game.

          • reply
            February 18, 2014 1:20 PM

            2nd game was better than infinite

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 2:44 PM

              Said nobody ever.

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 6:34 PM

              You get the fuck out of here with that

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 8:45 PM

              Gameplay wise, most definitely.

              • reply
                February 18, 2014 9:28 PM

                Yup. Had the best combat hands down.

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 8:45 PM

              completely disagree

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 9:22 PM

              That's a blatantly inflammatory comment. That being said, I enjoyed Bioshock 2.

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 9:24 PM

              the only good part of 2 was Minervas Den

              • reply
                February 18, 2014 9:29 PM

                Maybe today we can celebrate the people who worked really fucking hard to make two games for people to enjoy (and then a lot of them lost their jobs) instead of racing to talk about which game they gave years of their lives for was shittier.

                I'm all for the celebration part, but maybe that's just me.

                • reply
                  February 18, 2014 9:36 PM

                  people have differing opinions regarding games and want to express them on a gaming forum? color me surprised
                  I don't think anything said above was said to disparage the creators of any of the games

                  • reply
                    February 19, 2014 6:39 AM

                    The designers that created something completely devoid of any creativity? We don't need those people making generic games anymore. I have as much respect for their opinion as a woman that complains about sexist games after promoting Duke Nukem in a strip club.

                • reply
                  February 18, 2014 10:36 PM

                  Geeze dahanese, how dare you wish to congratulate work and empathize with the people involved. I mean... viewing them as people that you may have known, supported, and spoken on behalf of? What's with that? I mean, they're not real people, just names on a list, right?

                  • reply
                    February 19, 2014 4:27 AM

                    You don't have to empathize with them. For fucks sake they got paid to do a job and then got laid off. I paid money to play the game. That was my tribute to those people. I don't call the cook at a restaurant I ate at five years ago and ask him if I can jerk him off because of the awesome burger he made me.

                    • reply
                      February 19, 2014 5:29 AM

                      You certainly don't have to, but it'd be nice

                • reply
                  February 19, 2014 3:57 AM

                  God forbid people will talk games on a games forum!

                • reply
                  February 19, 2014 6:33 AM

                  Thankfully you rode in for the rescue on your high horse again. We get it, you were the PR lady on that cash grab of a game.

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 10:26 PM

              Agreed.

            • reply
              February 19, 2014 5:49 AM

              I wouldn't say that, but I agree that 2 was most certainly NOT a bad game.

        • reply
          February 18, 2014 11:27 AM

          That already happened sort of with BioShock 2. Irrational spun off a piece to be 2K Marin.

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 10:37 AM

      If the main reason for Irrational closing is Levine changing positions within the corporation, why not continue the studio under different leadership or spin it off as a new studio so they don't have to layoff so many people?

      • reply
        February 18, 2014 11:02 AM

        The whole way that letter is written kind-of makes Levine look like a bastard. I want to leave and do something different, but don't want to give anyone else the helm at Irrational, so screw it, shut it down

        Perhaps I'm just scared for Bioshocks future......

        • reply
          February 18, 2014 11:23 AM

          Or maybe 2K doesn't see Irrational existing without Levine.

          • reply
            February 18, 2014 11:36 AM

            Or maybe 2K doesn't want to run a Boston-area studio. Rent and cost of living aren't exactly cheap here. It's close to colleges like Harvard and MIT, but that doesn't seem to matter much when prospective employees could either work remotely, or get relocation assistance to the SF bay area.

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 3:05 PM

              Could also be a long time until they spin up full development on a sequel, probably don't want a full staff onboard until they figure that out.

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 9:56 PM

              cost of living doesn't stop the billion game studios in the bay area from existing. i don't think that's it.

      • reply
        February 18, 2014 1:21 PM

        2k games might have said to Ken that irrational wasn't sustainable in it's current form but he could create a smaller studio.

        • reply
          February 18, 2014 2:19 PM

          I wonder why they would start up a new studio, and discard the value in the irrational brand, instead of reforming a different team under the irrational name

          • reply
            February 18, 2014 2:43 PM

            There is value to brand names dude, you think the guys at Respawn wouldn't have taken the name of Infinity Ward with them if they could? fuck yeah they would have.

            • reply
              February 18, 2014 3:33 PM

              That's my point, what prevented them from continuing use of the name

            • reply
              February 19, 2014 3:59 AM

              Haha, that's exactly what he was saying.

              Nothing that we know of prevented them from taking the name. Your example is different because it wasn't under the same owner.

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 3:28 PM

      If you're interested in hearing Patrick Klepek and Alex Navarro talk over this, have a view / listen: http://www.giantbomb.com/videos/let-s-talk-about-irrational-games-closing/2300-8521/

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 3:36 PM

      bummer

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 3:39 PM

      Really weird, and doesn't make Ken Levine look good. Why not just leave and start a new studio without laying off over 100 people. I guess there could be other factors we don't know about though.

      • reply
        February 18, 2014 3:52 PM

        I apologize ahead of time, but.... "Saying goodbye without LEAVING?!?!"

        • reply
          February 18, 2014 9:27 PM

          No, saying goodbye without Levine

      • reply
        February 18, 2014 9:51 PM

        Who did the laying off? Him or 2K?

        • reply
          February 18, 2014 9:57 PM

          I don't think you understand, they had to discard the dead weight that preventing Ken Levine from achieving his vision. It's not personal, it's just business. The studio that Ken Levine built himself ultimately came to be just a burden on the genius that is Ken Levine and thus had to be discarded. Take Two is completely behind his decision to cast off the dross that was preventing Ken Levine from being the success that Take Two had always assumed he would be. Good luck former Irrational Employees, I'm sure other Take Two studios will take you on considering how you failed Ken Levine. You have a great future at other Take Two properties.

          • reply
            February 18, 2014 10:42 PM

            This is pretty close to how it came off to me with a little hyperbole.

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 3:56 PM

      GOOD/BAD It sounds like good news for the type of game he wants to make, but obviously a colossal bummer for all of those laid off.

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 4:09 PM

      I don't get it. They just laid off people and changed their name? It's not really closing the company when you're staying with your publishers and keeping the 15 employees that probably don't want to kill you.

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 8:30 PM

      https://theconversation.com/games-by-humans-23399

      Really good article id recommend you all read in regards to this news.

      • reply
        February 18, 2014 10:16 PM

        It's odd how he describes the relative mundanity behind the design decisions onto which we as gamers project layers of meaning and purpose, then goes right into "reading between the lines" of the press release. Not that he doesn't have a point—the face- and voiceless masses of talent behind the layoffs definitely need acknowledgement—but I wonder why he thinks the latter is any different than the former.

    • reply
      February 18, 2014 10:30 PM

      A slight a-hole move from Ken and 2k, especially since Ken is staying at the company and not starting his own new indie company.

    • reply
      February 22, 2014 12:27 AM

      think of a game like a house... once the house is built, the workers need to find a new job....

    • reply
      February 22, 2014 12:31 PM

      If Levine is no longer involved with Bioshock, I expect Bioshock to continue as only a shell of it's previous self. We may get another solid shooter in terms of gameplay, but I doubt the story/narrative would continue with it's classic political philosophy hallmark.

    • reply
      February 24, 2014 2:00 PM

      Interested to see what this next "narrative-driven" game that is highly replayable will be. I like that he is paying attention to having a relationship with the people who are actually playing the games.
      Corbin from www.highgroundgaming.com