Ken Levine - "I am winding down Irrational Games"

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  • MrTomFTW Moderator 18 Feb 2014 17:49:25 41,732 posts
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    http://www.irrationalgames.com/

    When Jon Chey, Rob Fermier and I founded Irrational Games seventeen years ago, our mission was to make visually unique worlds and populate them with singular characters.
    We built Rapture and Columbia, the Von Braun and The Rickenbacker, the Freedom Fortress and some of the nastiest basements a SWAT team ever set foot into. We created Booker and Elizabeth, the Big Daddy and the Little Sister, MidWives and ManBot. In that time, Irrational has grown larger and more successful than we could have conceived when we began our three-person studio in a living room in Cambridge, MA. Its been the defining project of my professional life.

    Now Irrational Games is about to roll out the last DLC for BioShock Infinite and people are understandably asking: Whats next?

    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 Ive ever had. While Im deeply proud of what weve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than weve 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.

    I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. Ill be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two. That is going to mean parting ways with all but about fifteen members of the Irrational team. Theres 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.

    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 well be hosting a recruiting day where well be giving 3rd party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff.*

    Whats next?

    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.

    When I first contemplated what I wanted to do, it became very clear to me that we were going to need a long period of design. Initially, I thought the only way to build this venture was with a classical startup model, a risk I was prepared to take. But when I talked to Take-Two about the idea, they convinced me that there was no better place to pursue this new chapter than within their walls. After all, theyre the ones who believed in and supported BioShock in the first place.

    Thanks to Irrational and 2Ks passion in developing the games, and the fans who believe in it, BioShock has generated retail revenues of over a half billion dollars and secured an iconic place in gaming. Im handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative. If were lucky, well build something half as memorable as BioShock.

    We do our best to update an FAQ in this space as questions come in.

    -Ken Levine
    @iglevine
  • kinky_mong 18 Feb 2014 17:53:08 11,418 posts
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    Len Kevin! What are you doing?! Say it ain't so?!
  • quadfather 18 Feb 2014 17:53:19 16,278 posts
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    System shock 3!
  • morriss 18 Feb 2014 17:57:09 71,284 posts
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    Sad but good
  • MatMan562 18 Feb 2014 17:57:31 2,736 posts
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    Hmm, sounds like a good move for his team and himself and I look forward to hearing more about their next project, but I hope 2K treat the Bioshock series with the respect it deserves and find a good develepor to make any future installments. I'd hate to see it become an annual franchise or something.

    And, obviously, best of luck to all staff who are now in need of a new job!
  • Khanivor 18 Feb 2014 17:59:34 41,711 posts
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    quadfather wrote:
    System shock 3!
    On mobile!
  • MrTomFTW Moderator 18 Feb 2014 18:00:31 41,732 posts
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    Khanivor wrote:
    quadfather wrote:
    System shock 3!
    On mobile!
    Free to play!
  • neilka Funniest Forumite, 2014 18 Feb 2014 18:04:48 16,956 posts
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    KEN LEVINE MAKES HUNDREDS UNEMPLOYED

    ALSO KICKS PUPPY'S SNOUT OFF
  • CharlieStCloud 18 Feb 2014 18:25:02 5,820 posts
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    You mean his WHOLE head, or just his forehead?

    ... don't leave me hanging like this Deckard.

    : (
  • Kichijoten 18 Feb 2014 18:47:45 3,715 posts
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    neilka wrote:
    KEN LEVINE MAKES HUNDREDS UNEMPLOYED

    ALSO KICKS PUPPY'S SNOUT OFF
    Very true, he basically didn't fancy making big games anymore so sacked hundreds of people.
  • Mr_Sleep 18 Feb 2014 19:12:22 18,050 posts
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    I find it surprising that he has that much control over the company that it is possible to disband it that easily.
  • LetsGo 18 Feb 2014 19:22:16 6,281 posts
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    As I said in the comments thread, disgraceful and I will never play a Ken Levine game again.

    Sure, leave and take some staff with you but shut down the company?

    Disgraceful.
  • Retroid Moderator 18 Feb 2014 19:23:13 45,397 posts
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  • Fake_Blood 18 Feb 2014 19:24:42 4,919 posts
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    He's going to do VR stuff.
  • Retroid Moderator 18 Feb 2014 19:33:35 45,397 posts
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  • jonsaan 18 Feb 2014 19:41:26 25,811 posts
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    There is nothing remotely cool about being called Ken.
  • Kostabi 18 Feb 2014 19:52:47 5,396 posts
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    Seems a bit cuntish to put a hundred people out on their asses just because of what sounds like boredom with big projects.

    You'd have thought Levine would have enough sway at 2K to get those 15 people he wants and a bit of startup cash for a new studio, leaving the rest to work on Bioshock or whatever.
  • Retroid Moderator 18 Feb 2014 19:53:56 45,397 posts
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  • Phil-McCrack 18 Feb 2014 19:58:10 3,964 posts
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    jonsaan wrote:
    There is nothing remotely cool about being called Ken.
    Or Keith.
  • Humperfunk 18 Feb 2014 19:58:18 3,044 posts
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    Hopefully those out of work will be able to find something quickly. Having "Bioshock" on their CVs should help them with any luck.
  • Tomo 18 Feb 2014 20:12:40 14,093 posts
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    The games industry basically sounds like freelance work. Surely you enter the games industry knowing jobs are often fluid, much like the film and television industries. The reaction to studio closures always surprises me - sure, it's not nice hearing about, but presumably folks prepare for another job once your game is nearing completion?

    Is that rational or wildly naive? I certainly wouldn't enter the industry if I wanted job security...
  • Retroid Moderator 18 Feb 2014 20:55:44 45,397 posts
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    Sounds like he had the choice of leaving & forming a start-up or doing almost the same thing under the corporate wing.

    Perhaps if he'd left Irrational would've been killed off.

    We're definitely not hearing everything.
  • rock27gr 18 Feb 2014 23:45:34 6,174 posts
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    What i don't get is why leave Irrational at all. Sure, get your 15 persons and create your dream team, but do it within irrational, without disbanding the company. Especially since he still remains under Take 2 ownership.

    I'm sure the Publisher could have promoted/recruited/transferred the necessary people to keep the main team(s) going.

    And especially since Bioshock is owned by the Publisher anyway, and they sure as hell won't abandon the brand anyway.
  • Salaman 19 Feb 2014 00:01:50 20,256 posts
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    That seems like a really weird and cuntish way to go about achieving his own goals/dreams /ambitions.

    Why wind down a good operation and lay off a bunch of people instead of just letting it be and starting this as a side project?

    Most odd.

    Edited by Salaman at 09:46:10 19-02-2014
  • ubergine 19 Feb 2014 08:15:22 3,697 posts
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    What are those hundred people meant to do?

    So Ken Levine has had enough of huge projects after the bloated Bioshock Infinite. 2K owns Irrational. Was 2K just meant to put someone else in charge and come up with some new project to justify continuing to employ all these people under Irrational? Or are you saying Levine should be somehow forced to do a job he doesn't want to do so other people keep working there?

    At the start of a new generation, 2K doesn't want to just throw a team of 200 and the many millions they cost at just something-or-other, that would be ridiculous.

    Levine is better suited to working on something narrative-driven, and Telltale are showing everyone that success doesn't have to come with a ridiculous budget and team of hundreds.

    But who knows. If NewIrrational comes up with some amazing new concept, there's nothing to say they won't ramp up again. Titanfall started with a small team, most new IP starts with a small team.

    The people painting Levine as some kind of monster are fucking daft.

    Edited by ubergine at 08:18:22 19-02-2014
  • Phattso Best Moderator, 2014 19 Feb 2014 08:34:22 15,186 posts
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    Given that he ended up staying in the same organisation, 'going home' doesn't appear to have been on the cards.

    There has to be a lot more to it than "fuck big projects, kick those hundred or so bozos over there to the kerb and let's rock!"
  • Ged42 19 Feb 2014 09:04:22 7,927 posts
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    I can imagine 2K wanted to turn Levine into a Bioshock spewing machine and I imagine he's sick of the brand by now.

    Hopefully the major of the team will get jobs through the recruitment drive mentioned in the OP. Probably working on more Bioshock stuff.

    I can imagine maybe a low budget Amnesia style horror might suit Levine's writing style and world creating skills.

    Does the team that worked on Bioshock 2 still exist? I enjoyed that one, especially the Minerva's Den DLC.
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