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Let's Talk About Irrational Games Closing

Ken Levine made an announcement today, and it wasn't to reveal a new game. Alex joins me to digest the news.

Feb. 18 2014

Posted by: Patrick

158 Comments

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jayforone

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Love this format.

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noizy

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Whaaa!

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SharkMan

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Edited By SharkMan

talk about a fast upload!

alex's internet fucking sucks!

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and333

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Edited By and333

Can't wait to see what Mr. Levine and his team makes and hope the best for all those who were laid off.

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weegieanawrench

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WHAT. Well, that wraps up Bioshock forever. I hope the last piece of Bioshock content provides some closure.

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chose

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It sounds like Kevin Levine is saying "This has become bloated" and [he] wants to work with a smaller, more flexible team.

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darkstorn

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Why can't they make another Bioshock? I thought Infinite effectively opened the floodgates for all sorts of games in the same universe. In fact, I anticipated a number of smaller projects with shorter stories after Infinite (DLC notwithstanding).

They could explore more interesting concepts in less time, and deliver them digitally with lower costs. That seems to be where games are going anyway.

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TanookiSuit

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RIP Irrational :(

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nightriff

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Video isn't working, at least youtube isn't

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patrickklepek

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Video isn't working, at least youtube isn't

The site version pushes live while the YouTube version continues to encode. It's coming.

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Deavyin

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I am pretty sure this is a big fat NO for me. I don't like seeing good companies go under, even if they are just "right sizing" their studio and refocusing their efforts to a smaller scale. That is fine and dandy. In fact, the aspects of Bioshock Infinite (and the series in general) that did the least for me was the AAA shooter aspects. I understood that you had to have a 'game' to wrap around your narrative, but I can't help but feel the scope of the series, if they do decide to continue on with the Bioshock lore, is going to lose some of it's grandiose when it's reinvented on a smaller scale. C'set la Vie. I'm glad he isn't leaving games altogether and hopefully he'll be able to focus more on narrative and less on clunky combat. Still kind of sucky news, honsetly.

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nightriff

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hammondoftexas

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This is crazy news!

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gaftra

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I'm not sure why the studio closed instead of Take Two restructuring it? Can someone explain?

I feel like people would have reacted to this story warmly or at least with curiosity if Ken Levine was just leaving to work with a small team on passion projects.

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Fairbrethees

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Hate this format.

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SharkMan

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Edited By SharkMan

@patrickklepek honestly this seems extremely selfish of him, and really fucked up. Sure he is stuck in a rock and a hard place, if he wants to do something really risky, but I'm not wrong in thinking that many of his ex-employees are going to be really pissed off at him.

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Milkman

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Edited By Milkman
"Corre" Gamers

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Jasoncourt

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Edited By Jasoncourt

My first reaction was "I don't need to digest this news, thanks.". However, I just the gun, this is a cool thing to have, a quick discussion of breaking game industry news. There's not much better than Patrick to talk about it, so thanks guys, it was worth your time...and mine :)

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Ett

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Edited By Ett

You can't blame Ken Levine. 2k is the one who closed the studio and fired people. I think it is very unfair of Alex to begrudges Ken Levine for his wanting to change after 17 years. 2k could have easily hire or promoted a new head/leader for that team.

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Fear_the_Booboo

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@sharkman: Well, if he couldn't take it anymore and got to hate his job, you'd want him to stay there just to save the other people job? I dunno, it is easy to judge but, really, we don't know where he was.

Not that it's not shitty for the other developpers. I hope that they get well soon, all of them.

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Migsse

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pity there is't a podcast version of this.

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jiggajoe14

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wait what what what?

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ArmedBear

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Tricky Scoops needs a plane ticket to Boston. Ken Levine and steak tips chat.

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markonfire

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Edited By markonfire

This is a great format for stories like this. Hope to see more in the future.

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SharkMan

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@sharkman: Well, if he couldn't take it anymore and got to hate his job, you'd want him to stay there just to save the other people job? I dunno, it is easy to judge but, really, we don't know where he was.

Not that it's not shitty for the other developpers. I hope that they get well soon, all of them.

yeah, i dunno. i have heard some things about him previously a long time ago when bioshock was first being developed he had a pretty negative attitude about steam, granted it wasn't much of anything then.

I just remember reading an interview with him and he kind of came off like an entitled jerk. granted I think his games are great, and i've seen interviews with him where he wasn't a jerk. but those past incidents, he kind of has a reputation of being in the news a bit, in a non positive light.

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ofcbilly77

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Well, I guess my application to Irrational isn't gonna get anywhere. I'm with Alex on this one right now. No matter how you cut it, a lot of really talented people are out of work now. I'm just happy that at the very least he is trying to help his people find work elsewhere.

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renmckormack

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RVonE

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Edited By RVonE
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deerokus

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Edited By deerokus

Levine made games about the deleterious and corrupting effects when a creator's ego and hubris takes over. And then he does this out of sheer hubris and egomania. It's beautiful.

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Vladd

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Edited By Vladd

Sometimes you maybe need a fresh start to get a new awesome project running, but to just suddenly lay off people kinda shows how much they actually appreciate their workers.

@patrickklepek Great job both of you. Keep doing more of these :).

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jocumo89

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I'd love to see more of this type of content.

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Fear_the_Booboo

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@sharkman: Never saw him being a jerk, but he might be one, or maybe he had a bad day. I don't know him personnally, so I don't want to judge, but if had been fired today, I would probably have a different speech.

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viking_funeral

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Edited By viking_funeral

People don't complain when Christopher Nolan lets people go after completing a major film and decides his next project is going to be something smaller.

I'm not saying that the Hollywood model is right for video games, but the current model is based on a retail model that is more conducive to bloat and risk aversion than it is to artistic vision. Is it any wonder that most innovation is coming out of smaller indie teams? There's a sea change coming in this industry.

And, admittedly based on the info put out by Mr. Levine himself, it sounds like a lot of people from Irrational are going to have to time to get things in order instead of being dropped like a bad habit. It's never great when people are let go, but compared to something like the 38 Studios closer, this seems like a much better situation for all involved.

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Kyoden

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Edited By Kyoden

I love the site, but I'm honestly not into the idea of Giantbomb adopting a 24-hour news format for games.

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magicwalnuts

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@patrickklepek I think you accurately sussed out what Ken Levine meant about creating replayable stories. Although, I think you should at least play System Shock 2 to get a better idea of what he means (it's probably up your alley as well). The idea of creating game systems that let the player tell their own story was something Levine talked a lot about leading up to Bioshock 1. The thing is, I saw almost nothing of that idea in Infinite, which is probably why he's letting go of so much talent. That talent was suited for linear AAA FPS games, and Bioshock's success only meant accumulating more of that talent to secure a safe investment in Infinite. Now the investment payed off, and that talent is being jettisoned.

It sucks for people losing their jobs, but as a gamer I am very happy, and looking forward to what Levine does next. Irrational had built itself up as a different studio from when it was created, what choice did Levine have? Gut the studio of its management and leave it as a Bioshock manufacturing machine until the ip became unprofitable and they all lost their jobs anyway? At least in this case the devs get to leave under slightly better conditions and we get a 2K funded studio made up of the core people who made SWAT 4, Freedom Force, and System Shock 2. I'd say it's an okay outcome.

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AMyggen

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Really like this format, keep it up.

And cue the Shawn Elliott to GB rumours! ;)

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Clippjoint

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pretty fucked up, laying off a bunch of your staff just so he could start his little studio.

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Beb

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Does Alex ever rejoin, or is most of the video Patrick spitballing? I didn't watch the whole thing but this doesn't seem like a super high quality piece of content.

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Clippjoint

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@beb said:

Does Alex ever rejoin, or is most of the video Patrick spitballing? I didn't watch the whole thing but this doesn't seem like a super high quality piece of content.

yes he did came back

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crithon

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Edited By crithon

if the most successful single player game of 2013 is having problems, this is why Half Life 2 episode 3 hasn't come out

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Vigil80

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Edited By Vigil80

I know I'm being snotty at the moment, but the "Huh, what's a (adjective) gamer?" schtick is due a rest. After 5-10 years of sneers, I get it already. The different permutations of "-gamer" labels can be goofy and distasteful. But we know what they're getting at by now.

I don't blame Levine. He has to do what makes him happy, like anybody else. Maybe there was a better way to handle it, but I expect that the people being let go will have decent severance packages, a good reference, and probably referrals to other studios. They'll still have it easier than a lot of folks out there.

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Warfare

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extintor

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Edited By extintor

I'm game for more of this kind of feature. The 'Alex and Patrick' stuff has become some of the best on the site. Keep doing what you're doing.

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JimminiBob

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Thumbs up for this feature.

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MusiM

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I did enjoy this feature. I would ask that you be careful and not run into the trouble most weekly shows run into: they run out of stuff to talk about. Granted the concept is based on something happens, let us talk about it now. I'm just saying don't stretch it. I love discussion when there is something to say, I just get tired of getting preached at.

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TheManWithNoPlan

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Well that seemingly came out of nowhere.

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development

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Finally, something to play Spelunky to.

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Y2Ken

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Edited By Y2Ken

Alex's definition of "Core Gamer" is excellent.

I just want a new Freedom Force, the dream scenario would be that the devs who Levine isn't taking with him would pick up the license and make that. Seems unlikely though. Overall I'm interested to see what Levine does next but it seems a strange decision to shut the studio down rather than selling it off or handing it over.

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bornagain888

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This is tough to stomach but the video game business is changing rapidly and meeting the payroll for 200 people is a huge burden.

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synthesis_landale

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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.

Maybe game companies should stop wasting their money on crazy blockbuster-style games if they are unsure if they can earn the money back, leave those games to the GTAs and Call of Dutys. Instead, build the middle tier of games back up instead of having only indies or blockbusters. The idea that renting, borrowing, selling a game destroying the industry is so ludicrous I'm amazed when smart people like Patrick fall back on it without thinking about what they are really saying. It didn't in the 80s, it didn't in the 90s, it didn't in the 2000s, why are the 2010s suddenly so different that it will ruin the industry. No, what will hurt the industry is this grasping need to have Call of Duty sales numbers while great sales like Tomb Raider had is considered a failure. The industry needs to get it's shit together, not just tack on multiplayer (or make multiplayer only) or force a game to be downloadable only to stop the 'horrible' used games industry.