BioShock developer Irrational Games abruptly shuts down

Bioshock screenshot

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Cue the ragtime piano. All for freedom and for pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever.

Add BioShock developer Irrational Games to the list of iconic shuttered studios. The studio announced today it will "wind down" after the last piece of BioShock Infinite DLC releases (the second part of the Burial at Sea story). Irrational's closure will end a seventeen-year run that kicked off with PC classic System Shock 2.

Studio head Ken Levine will form a leaner, 15-person team inside Take-Two and work on smaller, more narrative-driven titles. "My passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we’ve done before," wrote Levine on Irrational's blog. "In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience."

System Shock 2 Steam

Irrational's tenure started with PC classic System Shock 2.

"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," Levine continued. "To foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible, we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally."

I had my quibbles with BioShock Infinite, but I'll be sad to see Irrational go. For all its faults—for all the times Irrational reached and didn't quite get there—the fact remains it was one of the only studios even trying to make a change in the AAA game space.

No matter how successful or unsuccessful Irrational was at accomplishing its goals, it's sad to lose such a talented studio. On the other hand, while this news is certainly surprising, BioShock Infinite didn't exactly have the smoothest development. I wouldn't blame Ken Levine for not wanting to start up another five-year AAA development cycle.

As for the BioShock franchise, the rights will be handled by 2k from here on out so there's a chance we see another game like BioShock 2, which was handled by 2k Marin before it also shut down.

Best of luck to all those affected at Irrational.

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