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Irrational Games Closing

The Irrational Games website has a message from Ken Levine saying he is "winding down" operations at Irrational Games, and is starting a smaller "more entrepreneurial" effort with Take Two to "make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable," saying this will involve about 15 other former Irrational staff. "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," he explains. "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." Here's more on what this means to Irrational:

When Jon Chey, Rob Fermier and I founded Irrational Games seventeen years ago, our mission was to make visually unique worlds and populate them with singular characters.
We built Rapture and Columbia, the Von Braun and The Rickenbacker, the Freedom Fortress and some of the nastiest basements a SWAT team ever set foot into. We created Booker and Elizabeth, the Big Daddy and the Little Sister, MidWives and ManBot. In that time, Irrational has grown larger and more successful than we could have conceived when we began our three-person studio in a living room in Cambridge, MA. It’s been the defining project of my professional life.

Now Irrational Games is about to roll out the last DLC for BioShock Infinite and people are understandably asking: What’s next?

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.*

*If you’re a 3rd party interested in interviewing some of the best game developers in the world, please contact chris.bigelow@2k.com

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52 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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52. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 21, 2014, 14:50 jdreyer
 
Mr. Tact wrote on Feb 20, 2014, 15:49:
Ah, Jenny Agutter.. lusted after her for quite a while...

Lust-worthy, to be sure.
 
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51. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 20, 2014, 15:49 Mr. Tact
 
Ah, Jenny Agutter.. lusted after her for quite a while...  
Truth is brutal. Prepare for pain.
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50. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 20, 2014, 15:44 jdreyer
 
Yosemite Sam wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 19:30:
Never really thought about a Logans Run game, but now that you mentioned it... Playing a futuristic game where your job is to, ahhh, retire people. Then have you turn on the system and try to find your way to the surface while other people are now trying to retire you... sounds pretty damn sweet.

Also, too: Don't forget the totally sweet costumes! (possibly NSFW)
 
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49. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 20, 2014, 15:32 jdreyer
 
BobBob wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 16:25:
I hope they don't lay anyone off. It's already bad enough in this economy; seems to be getting worse.

Too late, they already did.
 
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48. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 20, 2014, 15:25 nin
 
Creston wrote on Feb 20, 2014, 15:16:
Judging by a gamasutra article linked today, Bioshock Infinite sold nowhere near enough to justify its costs, and that's why the studio is being closed down.

Still sucks for those losing their jobs, but at least they're not getting canned because Ken Levine felt like doing something different.

Linky?

Thx!
 
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47. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 20, 2014, 15:16 Creston
 
Judging by a gamasutra article linked today, Bioshock Infinite sold nowhere near enough to justify its costs, and that's why the studio is being closed down.

Still sucks for those losing their jobs, but at least they're not getting canned because Ken Levine felt like doing something different.
 
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46. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 20:12 Acleacius
 
Creston wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 12:11:
Acleacius wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 08:58:
djinn wrote on Feb 18, 2014, 19:18:
Creston wrote on Feb 18, 2014, 18:49:
Wow, that seems kinda... harsh? Guys make a very succesful game, and then because Ken Levine wants to make a smaller studio, everyone else gets sacked?

Thanks, Ken Levine?

Thought the same. Wasn't there another way he could have passed the baton on to someone else and kept the studio together? If it's only 15 people he's moving on with it seems like an odd decision to axe the rest. Maybe there's more to it? Then again, maybe not.
I see what you guys are saying but Levin is one of the best writers atm.

Could anyone really write a Bioshock story but Levin and would 2K really want to take that kind of chance, Bioshock 2 was critically panned? What if Levine is taking to heart all the criticism people have mentioned, hell even in these forums. Just taking a break, but unable to sustain another 100 person, 200 million dollar game development, atm. Should he just throw something together, then take the heat from, all the forum members complaining how the new game, just isn't any good.

Of course it's sad anyone losing their job but on the flip side those employees got to work on a very financially successful game, not everyone gets to put that on their resume.

How about Ken Levine leaves to do whatever he wants to do, and they keep the rest of the guys employed? I know, I know, CRAY CRAY, but think about it?

If Larry Page gets bored tomorrow and wants to focus on producing high-quality Sumatran bukkake videos, does he just close down Google and fire everyone?

It seems to me that Ken Levine is saying that without him, Irrational has no chance to do anything anyway, so he might as well fire everyone...
He probably tried to leave, but 2k gave him free reign to do what he wants, if he stays. His post almost says as much.

2k decides what games get funded and if Levine is burnt, needing a recharge, who the hell is going to lead a 100 person team on some game which will be another billion dollar hit? Oh and wth will that game be?

2k is Irrational, not Levine (Lest you forgot Irrational was sold to 2k).
 
The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.That is easy.All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.It works the same way in any country.
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45. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 19:30 Yosemite Sam
 
Ray Marden wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 18:32:
Levine always seemed a bit coy about what he was doing after BI. I mean, it's not like he was going to announce his next game or anything, but he seemed a bit non-committal or even apathetic.

At the end of the day, Levine has no ownership of Irrational Games so I doubt he chose to shut down the studio. Obviously, he's been a polarizing figure over the years and BI may not have been the biggest seller, but he's being fairly open about what's going on and taking some steps to help the laid off staff.

I'd love to know the full background of things, but it's almost like he's trying to deal with some stuff and, because of his past records, Take-Two is willing to wage a small bet on his behalf.

As for Bioshock Infinite, I enjoyed the game, but it felt a bit lifeless. I was expecting a significantly more unique experience and the combat felt a bit flat. The ending really helped push up my internal favorability numbers of the game, thought I did find it striking how much more exciting of a world I created in my head, based upon the promotional materials, than what I eventually experienced.
What are "...narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable...?"
Noting that he is working on the Logan's Run screenplay,
Ray

Never really thought about a Logans Run game, but now that you mentioned it... Playing a futuristic game where your job is to, ahhh, retire people. Then have you turn on the system and try to find your way to the surface while other people are now trying to retire you... sounds pretty damn sweet.
 
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44. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 18:47 Jivaro
 
According to Ken Levine (source: FB page), the following companies are coming to the recruitment day organized for February 26th.

Demiurge
High Voltage Software
GSN Games
Crytek USA and Crytek (global)
BioWare/EA
Retro Studios
Certain Affinity
Insomniac Games
Sledgehammer (Activision)
Treyarch (activision)
Vicarous Visions
Neversoft Entertainment
Turtle Rock
Fireforge Games
Gearbox
Xamarin Inc
Red 5 Studios
Windward Mark Interactive
Avalanche Studios
Hasbro
Sucker Punch Productions
Turbine
Bethesda Softworks / id Software / zeniMax

This is so the employees being let go can find a new job. It's a cool thing to have the recruitment day in the first place. Many companies wouldn't bother and no company is obligated to do anything of the sort. It's a very cool thing to get a guest list like that together for it.
 
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43. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 18:32 Ray Marden
 
Levine always seemed a bit coy about what he was doing after BI. I mean, it's not like he was going to announce his next game or anything, but he seemed a bit non-committal or even apathetic.

At the end of the day, Levine has no ownership of Irrational Games so I doubt he chose to shut down the studio. Obviously, he's been a polarizing figure over the years and BI may not have been the biggest seller, but he's being fairly open about what's going on and taking some steps to help the laid off staff.

I'd love to know the full background of things, but it's almost like he's trying to deal with some stuff and, because of his past records, Take-Two is willing to wage a small bet on his behalf.

As for Bioshock Infinite, I enjoyed the game, but it felt a bit lifeless. I was expecting a significantly more unique experience and the combat felt a bit flat. The ending really helped push up my internal favorability numbers of the game, thought I did find it striking how much more exciting of a world I created in my head, based upon the promotional materials, than what I eventually experienced.
What are "...narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable...?"
Noting that he is working on the Logan's Run screenplay,
Ray
 
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42. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 17:10 Yosemite Sam
 
Creston wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 16:57:
Yosemite Sam wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 15:09:
? He doesn't own Irrational games, Take-Two does. I fail to see how TT dissolving Irrational because of Kens departure is Kens fault.

Well, he explicitly says this: "I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. "

That does seem to imply that, you know, he is the one doing it...

Well he is still the head of the company so even if it wasn't his decision to close the studio it's still his job to close the studio.
 
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41. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 16:57 Creston
 
Yosemite Sam wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 15:09:
? He doesn't own Irrational games, Take-Two does. I fail to see how TT dissolving Irrational because of Kens departure is Kens fault.

Well, he explicitly says this: "I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. "

That does seem to imply that, you know, he is the one doing it...

Besides it's obvious TT is going to continue with the Bioshock brand so all those people will just end up in whatever studio TT gives the IP to.

That seems rather doubtful.
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.*

*If you’re a 3rd party interested in interviewing some of the best game developers in the world, please contact chris.bigelow@2k.com


 
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40. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 16:45 Prez
 
Creston wrote on Feb 18, 2014, 18:49:
Wow, that seems kinda... harsh? Guys make a very succesful game, and then because Ken Levine wants to make a smaller studio, everyone else gets sacked?

Thanks, Ken Levine?

I don't keep up with all the development studios, but even so I am shocked that I didn't see this coming.
 
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39. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 16:25 BobBob
 
I hope they don't lay anyone off. It's already bad enough in this economy; seems to be getting worse.  
http://tinyurl.com/WeatherImmunity Whew
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38. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 15:09 Yosemite Sam
 
Creston wrote on Feb 18, 2014, 18:49:
Wow, that seems kinda... harsh? Guys make a very succesful game, and then because Ken Levine wants to make a smaller studio, everyone else gets sacked?

Thanks, Ken Levine?

? He doesn't own Irrational games, Take-Two does. I fail to see how TT dissolving Irrational because of Kens departure is Kens fault. Besides it's obvious TT is going to continue with the Bioshock brand so all those people will just end up in whatever studio TT gives the IP to.

EDIT Just finished Infinite last night. Was an OK shooter and the level designs were pretty good and varied with lots of places to explore. The story is really what made it shine though, one of the most memorable endings ever.

This comment was edited on Feb 19, 2014, 15:16.
 
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37. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 13:34 shul
 
It seems to me that Ken Levine is saying that without him, Irrational has no chance to do anything anyway, so he might as well fire everyone...

my impression exactly.. I wish someone come over and say it ain't so..
 
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36. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 12:59 HorrorScope
 
nin wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 08:46:
jdreyer wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 06:38:
I dunno, sounds like Ken was tired of making AAA games and all the limitations and expectations that come with that. Can't blame him, it's pretty limiting.

If Infinite's development was difficult as hinted, he's probably burnt the fuck out...


I got burnt out doing less, true story. First I started with games, went to biz development, then found a path of lesser resistant in biz development. It gives me time to be a game critic on the side. I tell my sons the same story, aim high, have goals (they do) and then when you have enough of that find your happy place, it maybe doing something related but more management quality of life hours. I have no doubt making games has a burn out factor. It's an extremely demanding profession, but if you can make it there, you definitely can make it elsewhere with less hours and more jack if you are hourly/salary.
 
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35. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 12:56 HorrorScope
 
Jerykk wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 04:17:
Infinite sold over 4 million units. Granted, the six year dev cycle makes that a bit less impressive but not enough to shutter the entire studio. For comparison, Tomb Raider and Hitman Absolution were in development for about the same amount of time and received about the same amount of sales but you don't see Square shutting down Crystal Dynamics and IO Interactive. It just seems like a crazy decision from Take-Two.

Didn't Tomb Raider get gutted some when it didn't live up to the immediate success they were expecting?
 
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34. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 12:54 HorrorScope
 
Ant wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 00:22:
Fantaz wrote on Feb 18, 2014, 18:58:
so who's doing System Shock 3?
IIRC, I think EA still has that franchise.

EA is bringing it to mobile. $1 a bullet. 2 Hours to open a door.
 
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33. Re: Irrational Games Closing Feb 19, 2014, 12:11 Creston
 
Acleacius wrote on Feb 19, 2014, 08:58:
djinn wrote on Feb 18, 2014, 19:18:
Creston wrote on Feb 18, 2014, 18:49:
Wow, that seems kinda... harsh? Guys make a very succesful game, and then because Ken Levine wants to make a smaller studio, everyone else gets sacked?

Thanks, Ken Levine?

Thought the same. Wasn't there another way he could have passed the baton on to someone else and kept the studio together? If it's only 15 people he's moving on with it seems like an odd decision to axe the rest. Maybe there's more to it? Then again, maybe not.
I see what you guys are saying but Levin is one of the best writers atm.

Could anyone really write a Bioshock story but Levin and would 2K really want to take that kind of chance, Bioshock 2 was critically panned? What if Levine is taking to heart all the criticism people have mentioned, hell even in these forums. Just taking a break, but unable to sustain another 100 person, 200 million dollar game development, atm. Should he just throw something together, then take the heat from, all the forum members complaining how the new game, just isn't any good.

Of course it's sad anyone losing their job but on the flip side those employees got to work on a very financially successful game, not everyone gets to put that on their resume.

How about Ken Levine leaves to do whatever he wants to do, and they keep the rest of the guys employed? I know, I know, CRAY CRAY, but think about it?

If Larry Page gets bored tomorrow and wants to focus on producing high-quality Sumatran bukkake videos, does he just close down Google and fire everyone?

It seems to me that Ken Levine is saying that without him, Irrational has no chance to do anything anyway, so he might as well fire everyone...
 
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