A former developer at Irrational Games has published a tell-all about what went down with the studio before its downsizing to just 15 core developers. The developer, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that it wasn’t Ken Levine’s fault that several Irrational Games studios were closed, and that 2K Games tried very hard to save his employees.
Irrational Games, which was purchased by 2K Games way back in 2005, went through rebranding multiple times, seemingly without reason.
He also discloses how several of these satellite studios were shuttered to pay for 2K Games’ new Novato, California offices, Hangar 13, which developed the recent Mafia III. The studios had produced profitable titles, including Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. According to the developer, the game needs 8 million copies to break even, but has only sold less than a million copies thus far—a massive loss for the publisher.
“Instead the studios were dismantled, one way or another, by 2K,” he writes. “Is this really how a studio acquisition is supposed to go? Pay millions for a talented independent studio, let the people make you giant profits for a decade, and then shut all those people out of jobs before they get the chance to make you more money? Sounds like grave management incompetence to me.”
The developer also writes about how meddling from the management at 2K Games caused games like The Bureau: XCOM Declassified to be as bad as it was.
“By the way, does anyone know why XCOM tanked? I know — I was there: It is because out of the above titles, it is the only title where 2K HQ felt obliged to get their hands dirty with the development,” writes the developer. “They turned the product around several times for reboots, and completely took creative control out of the hands of the developers, even going so far as to change the name of the lead studio to “2K Marin, Australia” — just so the Australian studio knew they were no longer in charge.”
It’s worth a read.