Irrational Games Shutting Down, Levine To Form Smaller Team

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Irrational Games is one of the most celebrated developers of all time. Its most popular games - System Shock 2, BioShock and BioShock Infinite - are always brought up when discussing narrative in first person shooters. Its games also happened to be major blockbuster hits so a new game from the studio was assumed to be a sure fire thing. Well, not anymore.

Ken Levine took to the Irrational Games front page today to announce that the studio he founded 17 years ago would be "winding down Irrational Games as you know it." In other words, Levine is shutting down the studio in favor of a "smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two." He says that this means laying off all but 15 of Irrational's staff as he forms a small team that makes games "for the core gaming audience."

As you can imagine, the news was quite a shock. You usually only hear about studio closures when the games they make perform badly. Irrational's last game - BioShock Infinite - was quite the opposite as it was one of the best selling games of 2013. Irrational Games' owner Take-Two had no reason to shut down the studio so it appears that this is a decision made by Levine. He himself says as much by revealing that he contemplated leaving Irrational and Take-Two to form an indie studio, but was told by Take-Two that they would support any endeavor he wanted to pursue.

So, what does this mean for the BioShock franchise? Levine says it's now in the hands of Take-Two. That means that we may see a new BioShock game in the future, but it won't be made by any of the guys at Irrational. Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that's happened as the generally well received BioShock 2 was developed by 2K Marin as Irrational worked on BioShock Infinite.

This is definitely a weird situation and feelings regarding the closure are all over the board. Some are wishing Levine the best while others are questioning the logic of shutting down a successful studio just because its head wants to pursue smaller, more personal projects.

Image via Irrational Games

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