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Post by Dan @ 11:32am 19/02/14 | 0 Comments
After 17 years developer some of the most widely acclaimed games, BioShock developer Irrational Games is closing its doors and laying off staff. The unexpected event appears to be much different that the usual failing studio closure tale, as Irrational are just wrapping up the second DLC release for one of it's parent company Take Two Interactive's most successful titles in BioShock Infinite, a franchise with reported retail revenues of over US$500 million.

An open letter published by Irrational Games founder and BioShock Creative Director Ken Levine appears to be personally taking most of the responsibility for the closure, expressing the celebrated game developer's desire to make "a different kind of game than we've done before" that he claims requires "a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers".

Levine notes that his original intention had been to form a new independent start-up studio with his own capital, before being convinced by Take-two to remain in-house with a more agile relationship.
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. 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.

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.

Besides financial support, the staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios. Other Take-Two studios will be on hand to discuss opportunities within the company, and we'll be hosting a recruiting day where we'll be giving 3rd party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff.*
It is unclear why the talent-filled Boston-based studio was deemed unable to continue without Levine and the chosen 15, but at least it sounds like the newly unemployed will have better opportunities than most developers affected by studio closures. Our thoughts go out to them and their families all the same.

As for the BioShock franchise, publisher 2K games will now have complete control over the license, so it's very likely that we haven't seem the last of that wonderful world.

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