Bioshock Infinite Developer Irrational Games Shutting Down, Announces Ken Levine

By Alex Riviello , Updated Feb 18, 2014 01:27 PM EST

Ken Levine has just announced that Irrational Games is essentially shutting down. In a statement on the official site Levine announces that the last DLC for Bioshock Infinite will also be the last thing the studio does. He's going to be essentially dissolving the team, cutting off all but about fifteen members of the Irrational Team. 

"Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one," says Levine. "And working with the incredible team at Irrational Games is indeed the best job I've ever had. While I'm deeply proud of what we've accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we've 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." 

It's interesting- Cliff Bleszinski of Gears of War fame just spoke about wanting to focus on smaller games and now Ken Levine is saying the same thing. Is this a trend for major designers and does this signal the death knell of huge, AAA games? It seems like the developers are leaning that way, even if the major studios aren't. But everyone knows that a few major franchises with yearly updates isn't sustainable so maybe we'll be seeing more of this in the future- smaller projects from creative giants. It certainly makes sense from Levine, who seems to take great pride in constantly communicating with his audience via Twitter and relating to people on a more personal basis.

With only 15 people staying on board they're going to be laying off a lot of people, but they are going to at least try to get them jobs before they cut them loose. They're going to keep them employed a little bit longer to allow them to get together their portfolios and hold a recruiting day where 3rd party studios and publishers can hold interviews with the laid-off staff. 

But what's next for Levine and his new, streamlined team? "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," says Levine. "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, they're the ones who believed in and supported BioShock in the first place."

More updates on this unexpected news as we hear it!

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