Creative Director Ken Levine announced today that the now-legendary video game studio he founded with Jon Chey and Rob Fermier will be “winding down…as you know it.” The heart of the team that brought us System Shock 2, brought us down into the depths of Rapture in Bioshock, and lifted us up into the demented skies of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite, has decided to return to their roots as a small, tight-knit crew in order to pursue the ambitious goal of making narrative-driven games with high replay value — a combination of qualities often strived for in the medium of video games, but rarely — if ever, to date — achieved.
This announcement comes as quite the surprise considering that it was only a week ago that Irrational Games released a trailer for the hotly anticipated finale to the Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea DLC (see below). But then again, this dramatic conclusion to Booker and Elizabeth’s twisted saga may mark the perfect time for Levine’s team to bid farewell to the series that has left such a mark in the gaming world in the past 7 years and do what they do best — start something fresh that pushes the boundaries of the medium once more.
WARNING: Spoilers abound for Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea in this video. You have been warned!
While it is quite sad to see Irrational go, fans can take comfort that the team expanse beyond its core is going to be well taken care of, which frankly is not something you see big companies do too often these days, no matter what arena of expertise they are in.
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 3rd party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff. –Ken Levine
Lastly, while Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea might tie all the loose ends together from the original Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite games, fans of the series might take comfort in knowing that the franchise is being placed into the care of 2K Games. The word might here unfortunately must be emphasized because of 2K’s history of helming Bioshock 2, which is considered by many ardent fans as the red-headed stepchild of the bunch due to its comparatively weaker narrative and sputter in the innovation department. One can only hope 2K has learned from this lesson as well as from watching the masters at work on the gripping installment that followed and took home countless Game of the Year accolades last year.
In the meantime, we at Whedonopolis can’t wait to see what Levine and his core team have next in store for narrative-driven games and wish them well in failing as fast as they can so they can unearth another gem as quickly as possible. With that, we leave our fans and aspiring game designers out there with this Extra Credits episode on How to Start Your Game Narrative:
Full text of Ken Levine’s announcement available at: http://irrationalgames.com/