Could Ken Levine’s Irrational Decision Have Been Influenced By Candy Crush?
Last night the gaming world experienced tragedy the likes of a recent South African ex-president, or perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit, but it was still a sad and disheartening day for gamers as Irrational Studios as we know it, ceased to be.
I cried. A lot.
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In its place, Ken Levine is planning to start up what he calls a more focused, entrepreneurial venture with just fifteen other developers, effectively making the new Irrational Games a smaller developer focusing on a core market. Specifically, he is considering highly replayable narratives on a digital model.
Now when I read that I first thought of The Stanley Parable, which has been around for a good few years now but only released in a standalone version recently. It is exactly that; a highly replayable narrative offering with a digital model. But another piece of news also released recently got me thinking about a slightly different reason, and I promise I will clear up the obvious inference later. That news involves King.com taking the company public, with some crazy daily revenue statistics that made me wonder why I didn’t just make that mobile app I was thinking of a few years ago.
What a strange world we live in when Irrational Studios is downsizing and King.com is taking in the kind of profits that would bring early retirement.
Candy Crush Saga 1 – 0 BioShock.
I hate the world so much right now.
Anyway, is it possible that having seen the massive successes possible on mobile and with a digital model, Ken Levine decided it was time to make a move to something different? I mean, the likes of Cliffy B have been saying for years now that Triple-A gaming is defunct and in the coming years we’ll see a lot of studio closures and diversification resulting in just a handful of big studios that cover all Triple-A development.
Who really saw Irrational Games’ closure coming? So I think that such statements now hold a lot more merit, and kudos to those folks for calling it so long ago when everybody was so quick to laugh them off. Perhaps Levine saw it coming and figured it was the right time to try something different. And in terms of which direction to go in right now, there’s a massive tide washing over the gaming world, of digital business models and miniature gaming experiences; so why not get a surfboard and ride those waves?
Why he had to downsize Irrational to do it, I don’t really know; I mean they’re a great studio and sure losing a lot of your key staff is detrimental but could he not have just taken his fifteen elite and run off to start a new studio, or even just taken the name of the studio and then left the rest behind to form a new studio? Were 2K only showing the faith in him at that studio? Too many questions and until the FAQ he promised is out, no real answers just yet. Only speculation.
But to address the inference I mentioned above, I don’t think that Ken Levine is after money; he doesn’t and has never given that impression. He’s one of those guys who seems to truly love his job and so it does seem to be a brave and bold step in a new direction rather than the cutting of losses and running to the safety of digital models. It’s just that the infrastructure is there right now in terms of player base and physical devices for that avenue to be a fruitful one and I am certain that he will make it work splendidly.
Perhaps this is just how he proves himself to be a diversified success, in terms of critical reception and fan adoration.
One thing is certain; BioShock: Infinite’s underlying themes are suddenly that much more profound. Whatever Levine does with his newly formed version of Irrational, we can definitely say for certain that there will always be a man, always be a city and always be a lighthouse.
“No one tells me where to go.”
“Booker… you’ve already been.”