BioShock Infinite developer, Irrational Games, closing its doors for good
In an open letter to the fans, developer Ken Levine has announced that after building Rapture and Columbia, and creating Booker and Elizabeth among many others, the studio will be shut down. Ken and other team members will move on to other, smaller projects.
But you're thinking, "How is this possible? BioShock's franchise had to have sold extremely well!" Well, that part's correct. However, BioShock games have long development cycles, which is surely part of Ken Levine's process. And through this long development cycle, 2K is losing money.
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.
But this apparently isn't the end of Levine and 2K's partnership. 2K knows the potential Levine still possesses and instead of leaving him to startup his own development studio, they are allowing him to start a smaller team, focusing on downloadable games instead.
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. 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.
Thanks to Irrational and 2K’s passion in developing the games, and the fans who believe in it, BioShock has generated retail revenues of over a half billion dollars and secured an iconic place in gaming. I’m handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative. If we’re lucky, we’ll build something half as memorable as BioShock.
While it may be a sad moment for Irrational Games, it's not all bad news. Sure the BioShock franchise will now be developed by a new team, one not led by Levine himself, but Levine will now be able to focus on new endeavors. And given his storytelling prowess, I can only imagine the great games that will come from his smaller team.