Irrational Games

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Irrational Games
Subsidiary of 2K Games
Industry Computer and video games
Interactive entertainment
Founded 1997
Defunct 2014
Headquarters Quincy, Massachusetts, United States
Key people
Ken Levine
Jonathan Chey
Robert Fermier
Products Video games
Owner Take-Two Interactive
Parent 2K Games

Irrational Games (known briefly as 2K Boston, Inc./2K Australia Pty. Ltd.) was a video game developer founded in 1997 by three former employees of Looking Glass Studios: Ken Levine, Jonathan Chey, and Robert Fermier as Irrational Games. On January 9, 2006, Take-Two Interactive announced that they had purchased Irrational, and would publish their games under the 2K Games label.

At its largest point Irrational had two studios, one in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA just outside Boston, Massachusetts and the other in Canberra, Australia.

A third studio, 2K Marin, was split off from 2K Boston in 2007, with five former Irrational Games employees leaving to join the new company. 2K Marin worked with 2K Australia on BioShock 2.

The Canberra studio (2K Australia) separated from the Boston studio at some point after 2007, and merged with 2K Marin in 2010.

In late July 2010, several media outlets reported that a recently created website,, was a promotion relating to Irrational Games' unannounced project. The following week, information about the game was again teased, with the trailer confirmed for release on August 12, 2010.[1] This was eventually revealed to be BioShock Infinite.

Ken Levine announced on February 18, 2014 that Irrational Games will be closing down, with fifteen members of the staff to follow Levine to focus on digital-download, narrative-driven games for Take-Two. Levine stated "I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. I’ll be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two."[2]


Original Irrational Games logo
  • 1997 – "Irrational Games Boston" studio formed by former Looking Glass Studios employees Ken Levine, Jonathan Chey, and Robert Fermier.
  • 1999 – System Shock 2 released to critical acclaim.
  • 2000 – "Irrational Games Australia" studio is opened in Canberra, with Jonathan Chey taking the helm. Deep Cover is cancelled.
  • 2002 – Legal issues with publisher Crave Entertainment result in the development of The Lost being halted.
  • 2004 – Irrational designers Ed Orman and Dean Tate awarded "Best Design" in the Australian Game Developer Awards, as well as the studio receiving "Best Game of 2004" and "Best PC Game".
  • 2005 – Irrational's Boston studio moves to larger office space in Quincy, Massachusetts. The studio retains the "Irrational Games Boston" title.
  • 2006 – Irrational is acquired by Take-Two Interactive, under the 2K Games publishing arm.[3]
  • 2007 – Irrational Games is renamed to 2K Boston and 2K Australia on August 10.[4] BioShock released August 21 to wide critical acclaim and strong sales.
  • 2010 – 2K Boston announces its return to its original name, "Irrational Games" on January 8.[5] 2K Australia merges with 2K Marin[6] and announces XCOM on April 14.

Shortly after BioShock was released, rumors arose that many of the staff who had worked on the game were leaving 2K Boston/Australia. In 2007, five members of the 2K Boston team moved to a new 2K Games studio in Novato, California.[7] Soon after, 2K Games announced the formation of 2K Marin in Novato.[8]

Before Irrational started development on BioShock Infinite, the studio did preliminary work for the XCOM project that later became The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.[9]

Closing of the studio[edit]

On 18 February 2014 it was announced by Ken Levine via an open letter posted on the Irrational Games Website that Irrational Games would be closing. All but fifteen members of the Irrational Games staff would get laid off with the team helping them to find new jobs within and outside of 2K Games and that 2K was now in charge of the BioShock IP. A career day was hosted by Irrational Games for the remaining 75 employees to help seek employment at 57 other studios.[10]

Levine and the 15 remaining members of the team would be creating new, smaller games focusing on a replayable narrative for the core gamers. It was said that Levine's studio will continue to keep the Irrational name, although Take-Two later stated that it was not true.[11] The studio's games will be released digitally with Take-Two/2K Games funding and publishing them.[2] In January 2015, Levine and the remaining staff will form a new studio, the team is currently developing their first game which will be a "first-person sci-fi" game.[12]

List of video games[edit]

Year Title Platform(s)
Mac PS3 Win X360 Linux iOS
1999 System Shock 2 Yes No Yes No Yes No
2002 Freedom Force Yes No Yes No No No
2004 Tribes: Vengeance No No Yes No No No
2005 Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich No No Yes No No No
2005 SWAT 4 No No Yes No No No
2006 SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate No No Yes No No No
2007 BioShock Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
2013 BioShock Infinite Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Cancelled video games[edit]


  1. ^ Totilo, Stephen. "BioShock Creators’ Next Game Debuts Next Week, Trailer On Aug. 12". Kotaku. 
  2. ^ a b "A Message From Ken Levine about the closing of Irrational Games and the future of the studio". Irrational Games, Ken Levine. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Irrational Games Renamed 2K Boston and 2K Australia". Business Wire. 2007-08-10. Retrieved 2010-09-16. 
  5. ^ The Return Of Irrational Games
  6. ^ Plunkett, Luke (2010-04-16). "2K Studio Name Madness Continues With New XCOM Game". Kotaku Australia. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  7. ^ "Q&A: Ken Levine talks BioShock, reminisces about X-Com". GameSpot. 2009-03-20. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  8. ^ "Take-Two confirms 2K Marin". GameSpot. 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  9. ^ Plante, Chris (6 March 2014). "The final years of Irrational Games, according to those who were there". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Irrational Games closure led to 75 layoffs, job fair hosted 57 studios". Polygon. February 28, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2014. 
  11. ^ Morris, Chris (14 May 2014). "Take-Two CEO open to buying more studios". Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Phillips, Tom (28 January 2015). "BioShock creator Ken Levine teases new first-person sci-fi project". Eurogamer. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 

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