Yesterday’s news that Ken Levine would be shutting down Irrational Games as we know it in order to scale his team back to just 15 people was a real shocker. There was nothing said in previous interviews that foretold the company’s end, as BioShock Infinite was a massive success both critically and commercially. However, speaking to IGN, Levine explained that he’s been working for 17 years as the figurehead of an ever-growing development studio. Irrational has only gotten bigger over the years, and the face of the BioShock franchise couldn’t just take a break when so many people were counting on him.
“I’ve been running Irrational for 17 years and I’ve barely had a break, at all,” he explained. “It wears on you after a while. I’m 47 and the pressure of having 100 or 150 people that you have to keep their plates full of material is a challenging one. I don’t mean that I’m the only one providing material, but at the end of the day, if I don’t show up for a month that causes real problems. So I show up. All the time.”
Smaller, downloadable games with a narrative focus will drive this new chapter of Levine’s career. Hopefully he finds some time to relax and enjoy his accomplishments before rushing into something fresh.