Irrational Games, the studio behind Bioshock, will shut down

Irrational's Bioshock franchise was beloved by critics and gamers. 

A still from BioShock Infinite, an Irrational Games title.

Irrational Games, the studio behind the critically-acclaimed Bioshock series, will shutter its doors for good. 

In a letter posted to the Irrational site, co-founder Ken Levine said he would take 15 current staffers with him to a "smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor," which will be run under the auspices of Take-Two, Irrational's parent company. The rest of the Irrational team will be laid off (although Mr. Levine said employees would have a chance to discuss "opportunities" with the other studios under the Take-Two banner). 

"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," Levine wrote. "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."

Levine did not lay out a timeline or name for his new venture, which he said would focus on digitally-delivered content. 

Irrational was founded in 1997, in Boston. Its early titles included Freedom Force. But Irrational had its big breakthrough in 2007, with BioShock, a futuristic (and defiantly weird) first-person shooter. A follow-up, Bioshock Infinite, was released last year to near universal acclaim. (Retail revenue for the BioShock games has topped half a billion dollars.) 

"Bioshock Infinite is in a class of games that only come around on very rare, very special occasions," Mike Wehner of The Escapist wrote in a 2013 review of the Irrational title. "It combines fantastic action with a story that will evoke every emotion you have to offer, and leave you wanting even more. This is as close to perfect as videogames get." 

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