What Next For Dozens Of Ex-BioShock Game Creators?

What Next For Dozens Of Ex-BioShock Game Creators?

Yesterday's surprise news that Irrational Games, the studio behind the lauded BioShock series, is shutting down raised a number of questions, including what will become of the people who worked there making games.

While Irrational creative director Ken Levine will forge a new, much smaller outfit dedicated to making downloadable narrative-based games, most of the rest of the Irrational team will have to find jobs in the gaming industry beyond, if they stick around to keep making games.

A lot remains unclear about how the Irrational shutdown decision was made, how it was handled, if BioShock Infinite's critical or commercial performance was a factor, how the game's publisher factored into the decision, how much of this was Levine's call, and so on. We've asked around and, for better or worse, answers have been hard to come by. It's not even been clear how many people were still working at Irrational. Estimates of the number of ex-Irrational who were laid off yesterday have ranged well past 150, but a source familiar with the situation told me that the number is closer to 50-75. That's not as bad as the rumours, but that's still a lot of people.

Shortly after the news of the shutdown hit yesterday, Twitter was astir with postings from other game studios letting the ex-Irrational people know they were hiring. Levine himself also publicly posted the following message on Facebook last night, letting any potential employer know about an upcoming "Outplacement Open House" a week from today:

Thank you for all the kind words and support today.

It would mean a lot to me personally if you could reach out on twitter to members of the team and tell them how much their work has affected you. If you don't know any team member's twitters, tweet at me @iglevine and i will retweet your thoughts.

I want to turn every industry person's attention to our external recruiting day which will happen right after the 2K/Rockstar recruiting day. We've already received hundreds of inquiries about it, but just wanted to make sure you all have the info:

"In order to help our affected employees find new work opportunities, 2K will be hosting an Outplacement Open House at Irrational Games on Weds 2/26/14. If you would like to join us to meet our impacted employees, let us know and we will send you the details of where and when, and reserve a space for your company.


Please RSVP directly to [email protected] & cc: [email protected]

We will need your company name, and names of all your employees who plan to attend, along with a URL for your career website or homepage. "

I know we've got a good number of game creators among our readership, so if the above is relevant to you as a worker or a boss, you can take action.

And for our readers who simply love playing games, there's hope here that the people who make the games you enjoy will land on their feet and be able to make some more. We see a lot of game studios shut down year after year, which can certainly be unnerving for players out there. Why this keeps happening and what this means for the games you play is a thread that will surely weave through so many of the stories we continue to report.


    Cloud Imperium Games (Star Citizen) are currently/constantly hiring. Maybe some of them can find work there.

      yeah, then we might actually see the game get made sometime in the next 2340234-2390-234 years rather than just getting stories by email.

        Ok so with Bioshock Infinite taking 4-5 years in development, and taking into account the games length and storyline and design and features.

        How far along should Star Citizen be after 16 months dude - also please list all the projects on the scale of Star Citizen you have completed and how long it took you to complete.

          Wow. Such hyperbole. Much context.

          I can get onboard with that. I invented, made, and published World of Warcraft single handedly in 2 months. Next question.

          Aka, I just want to play the game, and would far prefer they just stopped sending the stupid emails and put that time and effort into actually making the game instead. Just my personal view as the creator of WoW. ^_^

      Eric Wingman Peterson confirmed they are attending the Outplacement Open House looking for new talent. Which is great for CIG because they really want to fill up the empty slots.

        Nice! I must have missed that on my latest slog through the forums (unless he mentioned it on Wingman's Hangar and I was tuned out at that point) - Still, great news

    I still don't understand why he's just shutting it down instead of selling it? Surely you could find a buyer for a company with a team that have shipped AAA products as critically and commercially successful as Bioshock?

      They already did that - part of being able to make Bioshock in the first place involved selling the studio to Take-Two Interactive.
      It's a highly shady business practice to be able to shut down companies and make new ones whenever you want to cut down on staff (and old paperwork) - I believe a common term is the 'phoenix company'. It's frowned upon in a lot of industries and it annoys me how easily it happens in game development.

        Phoenix Company sounds like a great name for a game though, a kind of futuristic dirty dozen

    Who gets the rights to Bioshock?

    Last edited 20/02/14 5:05 pm

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