Man, if you are a fan of Ken Levine and his style of storytelling then today is truly a huge day in gaming, as according to Irrational’s website, Ken Levine has handed over the reigns of BioShock over to publisher 2K and Irrational Games is no more. There is so much to this news that you kind of have to break it down layer by layer to really understand what is going on. The first thing is that there is a major bummer in that all but 15 employees from Irrational Games have lost their jobs and that Levine is going to attempt to take care of them as best he can, but they are gone.
According to Levine he will be “winding down” Irrational Games after the release of BioShock Infinite’s “Burial At Sea Part 2” to move onto new and exciting ventures. That means that only fifteen employees from Irrational Games will stick around and that Ken Levine’s new venture for Take-Two will be much more scaled back and focused than his previous AAA-ventures. This also means that Ken Levine has given up on his baby, BioShock. So much like Halo jumped from Bungie to 343 Industries, it looks like if there will be future BioShock games they will be under the creative control of an entirely new team. This could be exciting news or bad news depending on how you view the BioShock games for their strengths and faults.
So what exactly is Ken Levine going to focus on from now on? Smaller, narrative-driven games for the “core gamer” that will be highly replayable. If I’ve had one real complaint about Ken Levine and Irrational Games’ efforts over the past few years it would have to be how they want to tell great stories, create great characters and worlds, but the tired game play mechanics utilized tend to cheapen the experience and break the immersion. I’m not saying that he needs to create a game like Dear Esther or go full Telltale Games, but seeing Ken Levine allowed to be creative without worrying about millions of dollars hanging in the balance and not being forced to create something derivative might be magical.