In a surprise move that sent shockwaves throughout the gaming community earlier this week, Irrational Games founder Ken Lavine has announced that the studio will be downsizing from its current format as an AAA studio to one with just fifteen members. Considering the critical and financial success both the original Bioshock and last year’s Bioshock Infinite have enjoyed this move might seem out of left field, but Mr.Lavine has attempted to explain the rationale behind this decision in a rather lengthy blog post.
Developers affected by the closure will be offered financial and logistical support according to Levine to help them find new homes in the development community. Other publishers and developers will be visiting the irrational offices to recruit those who didn’t make the cut.
The as of yet unnamed new studio that will focus on digital titles that are ‘highly re-playable’, the first of which is expected to be published under Irrational’s previous publisher 2K games.
Looking back, In his blog post Levine reflected on the founding of irrational and how he feels they will tackle the road ahead.
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.
Irrational was formed by just 3 members – Jon Chey, Rob Fernier and Ken Levine back in 1997 and has created some of very ambitious titles. Aside from the aforementioned Bioshock series Irrational also released the critically acclaimed System Shock 2 in ’99, Freedom Force in 2002 and SWAT 4 in 2005.
We wish all of those affected by the closure of irrational the best, It is always sad to hear that people have lost their jobs. Take Two has not yet commented on the future of the Bioshock franchise, including the previously announced PlayStation Vita version.