Irrational Games Is Closing Down and Laying Off Employees
The creators of Bioshock are "winding down" to focus on something smaller.
The creators behind a popular first-person shooting game are â€świnding downâ€ť the company and getting rid of all but 15 employees as they venture into new gaming territory.
In a letter posted on Quincy-based Irrational Gamesâ€™ website on Tuesday, the companyâ€™s creative director and writer of Bioshock Infinite, Ken Levine, wrote that it was time to refocus his efforts on a â€śsmaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor,â€ť leaving many of his developers and video-game employees behind.
â€śSeventeen 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 Iâ€™ve ever had. While Iâ€™m deeply proud of what weâ€™ve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than weâ€™ve done before,â€ť Levine wrote. â€śTo 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.Â In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience.â€ť
The small team means â€śparting waysâ€ť with all but 15 current employees at Irrational Games, known for its first-person Bioshock series, which weaves players through a dystopian-like landscape and tests their morals in compromising situations.
In his letter, Levine said there is â€śno good wayâ€ť to lay people off, and because of that, he’s offering support to those that will no longer work for him moving forward.
â€śThe staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios,â€ť Levine said in his public letter, noting that other studios within Take-Twoâ€™s umbrella will be on hand to discuss opportunities. Irrational Games will also host a recruiting day where outside studios and publishers can hold interviews with departing staff.
Levine said he would soon announce his new endeavors focusing on â€śnarrative-driven gamesâ€ť that are â€śhighly replayable,â€ť and exclusively deliver digital content.
The news of layoffs comes as a bit of a surprise given Levineâ€™s recent success with Bioshock Infinite, which was released in the spring of 2013 to rave reviews. It sold more than 4 million copies worldwide as of last July, and reaffirmed Levineâ€™s spot on the podium as one of the more innovative game creators. BioShock has generated retail revenues of over a half billion dollars, and an expansion to Infinite is due out next month.
But the gameâ€™s production didnâ€™t come without some trepidation. According to an earlier Boston report, getting Infinite out the door was a costly endeavorÂ and included cuts to the original game concept. Staffers also walked away from the project.
â€śWhen the game was supposed to be released, the company announced that its launch date would be pushed back months, and the press reported that four employees in creative roles had left Irrational before the product was completed. Fans worried that the project might be borked, but their fears were allayed when the game finally launched in March 2013,â€ť Boston reported in December. Since then, Levineâ€™s creation has become one of the most celebrated games in the industry.
â€śIf weâ€™re lucky, weâ€™ll build something half as memorable as BioShock,â€ť Levine said of his new goals.
An email sent to Take-Two and Levineâ€™s office was not immediately returned. The future of Bioshockâ€™s franchise remains unclear, but as Levine stated in his letter, he has handed over the reins to 2K, the gameâ€™s publisher.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/02/18/irrational-games-layoffs-quincy/