Irrational Games, creator of the BioShock series, is effectively shutting down. Cofounder Ken Levine revealed the news in an update on the developer's website today. The industry veteran will start a new endeavor for Irrational Games owner Take-Two Interactive, while all but around 15 staffers will be out of a job. It is unclear how many people Irrational Games employed at its Quincy, Mass. office.
"I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it," Levine said. "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."
To that end, Irrational Games will offer "financial support" to employees affected by the move, as well as the possibility to meet with other Take-Two studios to discuss future employment. Irrational Games will also host a recruiting day where third-party studios and publishers can meet with outgoing Irrational Games developers.
Levine's new project will be announced "in time," he said. The goal for the new endeavor will be to "make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable." Whatever form this new project ends up taking, it will be digitally delivered, he added.
"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," Levine said. "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."
"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," he added. "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."
Levine's last BioShock-related project is the two-part BioShock Infinite Burial at Sea campaign. The first episode arrived in November, while the second debuts on March 25. It is unclear what this announcement means for the future of BioShock for the PlayStation Vita. We've reached out to Irrational Games and Take-Two for comment.
The entire BioShock universe is now in 2K's hands, Levine said, though no new installments have been announced beyond BioShock Infinite and BioShock for PS Vita.
"I'm handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative," Levine said. "If we're lucky, we'll build something half as memorable as BioShock."