The gaming community received somber news this past Tuesday, Feb. 18. Irrational Games, the developers behind “Bioshock” and “Bioshock Infinite,” are relinquishing their rights to the series and downsizing 90% of their staff. After the upcoming release of the second episode in the “Burial at Sea” DLC, the company will no longer exist.
This marks the end of the company’s 17-year run. Ken Levine, creative director and studio lead of the company, co-founded it in 1997 along with Jonathan Chey and Robert Fermier.
It was Levine’s announcement on Irrationals’ website that broke the news.
“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,” Levine said.
This “small team” will consist of 15 of the best and brightest amongst Irrationals’ developers.
Levine remarked that he realizes the “long period of design” it will take to create the next game he envisions, and considering the five-year development process “Bioshock Infinite” required, he has experience with just how difficult such an undertaking is with a large team.
However, Take Two, the producer of Bioshock, has vowed their support in his endeavors, to the surprise of Levine.
“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,” Levine said.
While the minds behind “Bioshock” may be leaving, the series’ trademark passed to the game’s producers, 2K Games, a subsidiary of Take Two, so that players can still expect new adventures in Rapture and Columbia in the future.
Irrationals successor will concentrate on creating digital content exclusively, focusing on “narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable.” Levine also hopes to develop a more direct relationship with fans when it comes to future titles.
“If we’re lucky, we’ll build something half as memorable as ‘Bioshock,’” Levine said.
By Alyse Stanley
Technology and Gaming Editor