Irrational Games, the studio behind the BioShock series and many other lauded titles, is effectively shutting down. Ken Levine, the studio’s co-founder and longtime creative overlord, announced the news today. After the release of its current project—BioShock Infinite’s final add-on, Burial At Sea Part 2—Levine will be starting “a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor” with Take-Two, Irrational’s parent company, and about 15 members of the studio’s current staff. The studio had previously employed around 200 people, according to a rough estimate by Levine in a 2012 interview with Kotaku.
Levine’s note, which has replaced all content on the Irrational website except for the forums and the merchandise store, pins the closure on his desire to work on a game with a smaller team. And that smaller team, he writes, will be focusing on “narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable.” (So everyone who doesn’t identify as a “core gamer” can apparently go ahead and forget about all of this right now.) Instead of leaving Irrational and starting fresh with an independent, intimate team—a move that is becoming increasingly popular with developers from large studios—Levine decided to remain loyal to Take-Two, which has given him an atypical amount of support and creative freedom for a publicly traded company. Levine also mentioned that if BioShock will live on, it will do so in someone else’s hands, as Take-Two now controls the series.
As for the Irrational employees being left behind, Levine promises they’re being fired in the nicest way possible, with financial support from the company and plenty of time to get their portfolios together. Irrational will even be holding a “recruiting day” where other video game companies can meet and interview those who are not lucky enough to fit aboard Levine’s shining “core gamer”-populated ark.