Though the current Irrational team is still putting the finishing touches on BioShock Infinite's last piece of DLC--the second episode in the Burial At Sea storyline--that content will apparently be the last thing the team produces in its current incarnation. In the posting on the company site, studio head and creative director Ken Levine explained the reasoning behind the studio's eventual closure.
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. 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.
I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. I’ll 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. There’s 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.
Levine goes on to explain that his new team's goal will be to "make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable," and "foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible" by focusing exclusively on digitally delivered content.
Irrational Games was founded in 1997 by Levine, alongside Jonathan Chey, and Robert Fermier, all of whom worked together previously at System Shock developer Looking Glass Studios. Over the course of its 17-year history, the studio produced seven titles, including System Shock 2, Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich, and SWAT 4. Of course, its biggest hits were its two games in the BioShock franchise, which garnered the studio both critical acclaim and strong sales. According to Levine, the BioShock franchise will now be in the hands of publisher 2K Games, as his new, smaller team begins work on whatever it has planned next.
There is no word yet on exactly how many people will be laid off as a result of the developer's dissolution. As of 2012, Levine had cited the studio as having around 200 employees, though that may have changed in the time since.
We'll bring you more on this developing story as it becomes available.