Ken Levine is handing control of the BioShock franchise to 2K and reducing Irrational Games to approximately 15 staff in order to tackle a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavour at Take-Two.
In a post on the Irrational Games website, Levine said that his passion has turned to making a different kind of game than a large studio like Irrational was capable of in its current state.
“I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it,” wrote Levine.
“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,” he added.
“In time we will announce a new endeavor with a new goal: To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable.
“To foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible, we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally.”
Initially, Levine planned to start a small independent studio from scratch to build said games, but he was persuaded by Take-Two to stay within its walls.
“After all, they’re the ones who believed in and supported BioShock in the first place,” he said.
“If we’re lucky, we’ll build something half as memorable as BioShock.”
At the peak of the development of BioShock Infinite, more than 200 people worked at Irrational. More than 100 are still employed by the studio.
“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,” said Levine.
“Besides financial support, the staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios.
“Other Take-Two studios will be on hand to discuss opportunities within the company, and we’ll be hosting a recruiting day where we’ll be giving third party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff.”
Irrational had grown larger and more successful than he could have conceived when starting out, added Levine.
“It’s been the defining project of my professional life.
“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.”