150 Comments Refresh
Edited by mlarrabee

@terium said:

As a fan of Irrational, why would I be excited about Levine's new project when he just laid off over a hundred people because he wanted to go do something else? These are people's lives. It sounds hella selfish at the moment. No thanks.

This wasn't Ken Levine saying, "Oh, I feel like doing something else now; goodbye, all!" Even if it was (and it wasn't, since that's not how publishing deals work), seventeen years at any job is pushing it. My opinion of Jeff wouldn't suddenly drop if he were to announce his retirement from or closure of Giant Bomb in eleven years.

Edited by Tidel

Oh man, it's a dream, it's not going to happen, but Shawn Elliott somehow getting involved with Giantbomb would be a massive "get." That guy is incredibly well educated, an amazing games journalist, and now he's been on both sides of the fence. He can go wherever the hell he wants and I can't imagine he'd fit anywhere on the team here but hey, I can dream the dream, can't I?

I had the same thought, but here's another: Jeff and Shawn are both out of work. Robert Ashley has been working as a musician, which is sorta the same. Ryan freelances, and has a podcast network. Anthony skypes in to every show he's on.

Every reunion show the Brodeo talks, half-disdaining half-wistful, about getting the band back together; Shawn has some Thoughts About Kickstarter, and a few have said they didn't think the audience would be there. But I think they'd be surprised. Bundle it as both A Life Well Wasted and 97.5 The Brodeo, and I bet the money would be there, and fast.

Posted by graf1k

@zlimness: Actually in the video Alex (or Patrick, can't remember 100%) say 2K is supposedly going to do exactly that, with other 2K studios coming to interview people and possibly bring some of the people who would otherwise be laid off back into the fold. Maybe that seems ass-backwards to us but that's how they chose to do it.

Unfortunately video games seem to be going more the way of Hollywood movies now where you have big names and talents that pick and chose their projects and then teams are assembled to do the grunt work on contract and then disband and move on to the next contract job they can get. That's great if you're the creative guy and are essentially beholden to no one and publishers get into a bidding war for your next project, but not so much for all the modelers, animators, artists, ect. that have less stable work propositions in the future.

Posted by PimblyCharles

They made Swat 4, anyone else really like that game? Looking back, it's kind of neat that a studio like this made such a game, but you can definitely see Irrational's ability to craft immersive environments in that game.

"You're in my way, sir."

Until today, I didn't know Swat 4 was made by Irrational. That was a fantastic game, and is shocking to think it came from them.

Posted by LackingSaint

Love the format. Hot news updates with the Scoopwolf!

Posted by Even

@patrickklepek I enjoyed the format, but thought the length was a little long.

Edited by D3adend

I really think the game industry needs to go trade-union style.

Just to prevent this whole.. "congratulations, you are boned!" The safety net sucks.

I can't imagine why anyone who has a family to take care of would work in the game industry, as it's so unreliable and pays fairly poorly (for the hours worked and compared to other industries)

Posted by StriderNo9

I'm glad you guys did this Patrick, it's a good idea. I was hoping to hear something from you guys asap.

Posted by falling_fast

@d3adend said:

I really think the game industry needs to go trade-union style.

Just to prevent this whole.. "congratulations, you are boned!" The safety net sucks.

I can't imagine why anyone who has a family to take care of would work in the game industry, as it's so unreliable and pays fairly poorly (for the hours worked and compared to other industries)

i think the problem is a lot of tech people are silly objectivists and so are very anti-union. as a left-leaning person who wants to get into programming, this is extremely frustrating to me, but that's how it is.

Edited by me3639

How great would it be if just 2% of forums had the class and genius of someone like K. levine. i must have listened to over 2 dozen interviews on PC gamer, and other sites throughout the last 10 years and knowing how he grew up(admits he was basically a nerd) and how he just worked his ass off to get where he is today is admirable. He could easily have taken the easy road and just made the next Bioshock, but genius in whatever field they are in dont stay static, they find a new challenge.

I think what is also forgotten is the likes of Ken Levines, Cliffy B, and Davd Jaffe all came up through the industry prior to the explosion. They all started within small teams but their successful products threw them into being the heads of some large teams and high-profile, high pressure positions. They all have been great, but go back and watch an interview with each from 10 years ago and you can see the excitement turn to strain on their faces today. And thats not including the delightful internet and those who dont have talent criticizing every little thing they do.

Posted by Andorski

Know one fires Shawn Elliott. NO ONE.

Posted by Count_Zero

Frankly, while I've liked the games Ken Levine and Irrational Games have done in this past, if I were working in the game industry, events like this would make me a lot less inclined to work for any sort of auteur developer, and instead would make me want to either:

  1. Work for a development studio like Treyarch or one of the internal EA studios, where the games I'd be working on wouldn't be as creatively varied, in terms of their gameplay and subject matter, but the work would be reliable and be there. Also, I'd have a paycheck that would let me go to GDC and learn how to improve my craft from other developers there.

    However, due to the amount of crunch in AAA game development, there's a risk that I'd burn out before I'd get to make the games that I really want to make. Similarly, there wouldn't necessarily be as many opportunities for me to advance, or make games based on my own ideas while here, and depending on the contract that I signed when I got the job, any ideas that I came up with when I was working there, even if I came up with them on my own time and told no-one at the company, would belong to my employer.

    Also, with the rise of Indy Game development, there's always the possibility that if the contract I signed when I got the job had a non-compete clause that would not only prevent me from working for my former employer's competitors, but could also prevent me from working on my own games as well.
  2. Alternatively, I could just go straight to independent development. Yes, the likelihood of actually making a living is lower, the workload is higher, and if I want to work on a big spectacular game I'm out of luck, but I'd have control over my creative vision, and ultimately, I don't have to worry about getting fired because the genius auteur I was working under and hoping to learn from decided that he wanted to work on something else.

    If (the hypothetical) I take this route, my opportunities to improve from learning from other successful developers and getting to meet and talk shop with other developers is reduced - GDC admission is expensive, and not always available on the revenues of my games. Further, if I want to promote my work, I'm going to have to spend a whole bunch of money out of pocket not only for things like getting web pages and buying online ad space, but also going to those conventions. Additionally, these conventions might be related to organizations that I might not necessarily want to support (for example, the gnashing of teeth last year related to the ties between PAX and Penny Arcade, and some of the views expressed in that comic, and the ever-increasing importance of PAX when it comes to game promotion and connecting with potential fans).

As it is, this whole situation hasn't endeared me much to Ken Levine. Oh, and as far as far the "emergent gameplay" in Day Z and EVE Online as a way to cause replayable narrative - frankly, while I've enjoyed hearing about the stories that come out of these games, I'm not interested in playing them - at all. Far too often they feel like a way to facilitate online bullying, though that's a discussion for another time.

Posted by lunalicrichard

It's appalling to me , how the studio's are treating their creative personnel . How on earth are we to retain great creative people to work at these studio's ,when they get shafted every chance the management gets .

I am really scared for the future of gamedesigners / makers . Something is wrong when we sacrifice 200 people for the sake of 1 .

Posted by mdmac92

Love this idea for when big news drops. Awesome feature.

Edited by Karkarov

@synthesis_landale said:

People bought watched and sold VHS, DVD, Blurays (or rented) and yet the one and done experience of movies has not killed the industry. The movie companies are still around. Yes, some go under betting on X movie doing well or Y movie saving the company, but that's business, not a dying industry, same for games.

Well said. I also think Ken Levine is smoking crack if he thinks you can get a "good narrative and story" without it being a one and done experience. You can only experience the story once, maybe 2-3 times if you REALLY love it before you are done with it.

Also I find it mindboggling he wants to connect with his gamers. I have a friend who met him face to face, told him he was a huge Bioshock fan, and Ken Levine's response was to make fun of him and laugh in his face. I would think the last thing he would want to do would be "connect" with people he doesn't like.

Posted by ildon

@patrickklepek I really like this kind of feature, but personally I feel like 30 min is a bit long for a short news story like this. I realize this video was lengthened a bit due to Alex disconnecting from the call, but that's my feedback. A nice 10-15 min chunk (depending on how big the story is and how much discussion is warranted) on a news story "as it happens" or "first impression" is something I would be interested in watching/listening to in the future.

Posted by InfamousBIG

I like the format, but I'd say it's a little bit lengthy. Not that I want you guys to rush it, or that I don't like hearing your lovely voices, but I feel it could potentially benefit as a piece if it had perhaps a bit more momentum/less reiterating the same points.

Posted by Brendan

Am I crazy, or are you all crazy?

Ken Levine doesn't own Irrational Games. 2K owns Irrational games.

Edited by MisterWaingro

This video was fantastic! Fresh perspective on breaking news. Would definitely like to see more of this in the future!

Posted by Lanechanger

@patrickklepek Hey Patrick, I like this! The podcasts usually miss news or in a case like this where the news is so fresh that to wait for next week's podcast would be to fall off of the zeitgeist. This allows a "mini-podcast" on the big news at hand to be discussed. Thanks!

Edited by CrippWox

What video is this?

Posted by Tomzombie

yes i liked this video and would like to see more content like this.

Posted by North6

Poor Shawn Elliott, I hope everyone lands on their feet.

Posted by Alex

@flameboy84: If that's your definition of "venom," then you have a very low bar for venom.

Posted by Wuddel

I hope these guys gets jobs fast. 2K should have planned for this, and dish out some of that GTA-money.

Posted by TruthTellah

It's interesting to hear @patrickklepek make a compelling argument for the good of companies firing a lot of people from established studios.

Unfortunately, I think it sounds better than it actually is. You're describing a "make the best of a bad situation" scenario and not a good situation. I'm sure Ken Levine and 2K Games can feel a bit of warmth with thoughts about all of the skilled people who have recovered from mass firings to still make great games in the future, but the reality appears to be that this is yet again another instance of people losing their jobs because of the lack of security in gaming industry jobs.

There may be many talented people who make the best of the industry's job insecurity, but it's a problem for the real people working hard for companies only to see their future suddenly uncertain and their lives likely uprooted. People working in the game industry deserve better than this, and unfortunately, the conversation after this will likely be more about what Ken Levine will be doing next. Because the people leaving are likely under contract and still want to work in the industry, so they don't get much of a voice. Their side is far underrepresented, and the loss here will probably be forgotten in a few days as people covering this will just move on and focus on the next big game.

Yet these are real people who appear to have been done a great disservice by their company, and in an industry afraid of unions and more interested in aggrandizing the individual public faces of developers than the majority of the people who really make the games happen, this is just another instance of a problem that deserves more investigation and coverage than it gets.

I know this is early on, but I hope that serious game journalists like @patrickklepek will not accept the status quo of press releases and public faces like Levine stealing the focus from the problem here represented in the many developers now out of a job. They may be able to make the best of a bad situation, but it is still a bad situation that deserves more attention. Our focus may usually be on the games, but those who work hard for years to make those games are important, as well.

Posted by BBQBram

Just so people are clear on this, 2K is still free to do with BioShock as they please. I would be suprised if we never see another one.

Posted by cassus

I just realized.. The AAA bubble could burst extremely quickly. All it would take was for one of the big devs whom have been dipping their toes into the F2P pool goes "Hey, so, we're going to go for a lot of games developed in small teams. There you go." Shazam, their stock will most likely explode over time, because there is more money in tons of smaller games, especially considering how fricken enormous the indie market is these days. Check steam top sellers, fricken packed.
If the first publisher sees revenues increase, some other publishers will follow and then investors will go mental and force the rest of the publishers into going for quantity.

No idea which publisher would go for that though. Maybe UBI.. Never know what those guys are going to do.

Posted by ninjalegend

I did not see this coming. Like Alex, it took me a while to hear what was being said after the hundred or more people lost their jobs.You would think that a better solution would be to move some creatives from one 2K team onto another. Or to split the remaining team, or most of the good people on it, onto other teams. Maybe the needing of "the closer" has more to do with this than meets the eye.

Good luck to the team no matter what the reason. And thank you very much for the great games. They have brought me great joy.

Posted by BawlZINmotion

Go to Montreal. Let the Americans fuck each other out of work, structure and good ideas. Maybe China will buy 2k and take-up shop right next to Epic Games and Motorola.

Posted by Dizzyhippos

Admittedly Ken Levine is why I cared at all about bioshock and infinite, but firing all those people with 0 warning is a real dick move

Edited by NoelVeiga

The gaming industry is weird.

Nobody sees Steven Spielberg choosing to not do an Indiana Jones sequel with Paramount and instead doing a small movie as Spielberg firing a bunch of people. Every time a movie or TV show is put together, it's mostly put together ad-hoc, with people who sign in to it voluntarily on a quasi-freelancing basis. For jobs that require a more permanent structure, they have companies like SFX houses or even art studios that will make that for them as a subcontractor.

In games we're moving towards that, now that a bunch of stuff is outsourced, but only the indies get to do what film creatives do and choose their next project from a stack. Triple A guys are stuck doing what they do until they leave, are fired or their studio goes bankrupt.

Now, film people get paid a bunch more than games people for their troubles, partly because the job security just isn't there. Maybe that's the kind of studio Levine should be putting together. It's just 15 people, but all of them get a stake on the profits and a decent amount of money up front. After the gig is done, everybody goes home and if they have another opportunity to do something else together, that's neither here nor there.

I don't think we're quite there for triple A yet (too much tech involved, really) but I think that's the endgame at some point.

Posted by Korolev

Farewell Irrational. You gave us great games, and I will remember Bioshock Infinite very dearly. Wherever Ken Levine goes, whether it be to another studio to make another Bioshock game or to Hollywood to finally realize his Logan's Run script, he'll be sure to make something great.

Posted by HypnoToadBrwowrowrow

@synthesis_landale said:

I hate assertions like Patrick's "Once you've create that one and done experience how do you get someone to not sell that one and done experience and to go on and buy a used version of that". People say it all the time but its the exact same model that movies have had for years ever since they put them on VHS. People bought watched and sold VHS, DVD, Blurays (or rented) and yet the one and done experience of movies has not killed the industry. The movie companies are still around. Yes, some go under betting on X movie doing well or Y movie saving the company, but that's business, not a dying industry, same for games.

This ignores a huge part of the film industry: multiple ways of making money. For the most part, games have one way to make money, and that's when the game first launches. Steam has introduced the idea of variable pricing and the ability to make more money over the long-tail, but it's not a complete transformation of the idea that is hurting the bigger budget games. Movies can sell distribution rights to TV, streaming services, etc. Video games can't do that. That's a really big structural problem.

Patrick, do you think a streaming service for current gen games would help this; if the games were added to a streaming service after about a year on the shelves? I know GaiKai is going to be doing this with older games so how do you think that might benefit the games industry as a whole?

Posted by Aiayla

Just posting to show my support for more segments like this one.

Posted by rahulricky

I like the idea of discussing breaking news stories but I think in this case idly speculating about why Irrational closed when you don't have much information to go on is a bit gross :/

Posted by amardilo

Good show, I really like the idea of a video discussion show talking about the news right when it happens.

It's somewhat disappointing they are closing down Irrational. Even with Ken Levine and 15 others creating a new studio I would have liked Take-Two to keep the rest of Irrational and have them carry on the BioShock series or games like that.

Posted by BoFooQ

JUst looked through irrational's list of games and I did like SWAT but there really isn't that many games. Patrick said 17 years and I had to look figuring there would be a lot more games I would have played or heard more about. I never got into bioshock, so from my point of view the name of the company really sounds bigger than actual company. People say Ken Levine or irrational like a great top tier studio, I think you need to look more at their game log. I understand that games 10 years ago where alot harder to make and time is changing, so maybe it was time to change studio. It's sad that people got fired, but sometimes you just need to stop everything and restart rather than trying to change and adjust.

Posted by WMoyer83

Ken Levine just Andrew Ryaned his Rapture.

Edited by DonPixel

Man the cult of personality force is strong in Patrick, I can sense it.

Edited by AV_Gamer

The gaming industry is a tough place to work. Playing the games are fun; working to create them? Not so much.

Posted by synthesis_landale

@patrickklepek: Seriously Patrick, you're asking where's the study proving that 40-60 is greater than 10-20? I admit, I do not have one, but I did not bother to look. My point in bringing it up in the first place wasn't that it was a one for one exact comparison but that you buy 3-4 movie tickets for the price of a new game, so that fills in some profit margin that the movie industry has to make up elsewhere. The games industry also has DLC, and (as you'd inferred) things like steam/PS+ sales to add to their revenue streams. Games have a longer tail than movies, look at things like Minecraft or basically any first party Nintendo title. (I admit, companies increased focusing on first day sales is going to in the end help kill the long tail, just as the movie industry pushing for first day box office killed off the idea of long tail of theater going)

I know it's not a one for one comparison at all. In the end it's as simple as, if the games industry cannot afford to take a chance on a blockbuster, they need to reexamine how they do business and focus on making a smaller cheaper game and bring back the more mid-tier games instead of just focusing on a blockbuster or indie title and ignoring that there's plenty of space between that. It's terrible for a game company to go under, of course, but if mismanagement is what kills them it's sadly going to be a fact of life.

Posted by Swordcery

Totally game. I would like to see more of these.

Posted by i_Dead

@sharkman: Haha and people want all digital games lol

Posted by i_Dead

@truthtellah: Its not just game industry my friend. People are losing jobs everywhere all the time. Economy is fragile and on the verge of collapse. Thats the best way i can put it.

Edited by TruthTellah

@i_dead said:

@truthtellah: Its not just game industry my friend. People are losing jobs everywhere all the time. Economy is fragile and on the verge of collapse. Thats the best way i can put it.

It's not really that simple. A lot of industries do have more security, and it's the videogames industry trying to ape the movie industry that is costing them both productivity and solidity.

Some game companies know the importance of cultivating a team and maintaining that team, but others treat programmers, artists, and other specialists like they are interchangeable cogs in a system. That simply isn't the case with how good games are made, and as long as many in the industry accept this style of doing business, gaming will be worse off than it needs to be.