Irrational Games

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Irrational Studios LLC
Formerly called
  • Irrational Games LLC (1997–2007)
  • 2K Boston, Inc. (2007–2009)
Industry Video game industry
Founded 1997; 19 years ago (1997) in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Headquarters Westwood, Massachusetts, U.S.
Number of employees
15 (2014)
Parent 2K Games

Irrational Studios LLC (formerly Irrational Games LLC and later 2K Boston, Inc.), doing business as Irrational Games, is a video game developer founded in 1997 by three former employees of Looking Glass Studios: Ken Levine, Jonathan Chey, and Robert Fermier. On January 9, 2006, Take-Two Interactive announced that they had purchased Irrational, and would publish their games under the 2K Games label. In 2000, Irrational Canberra was founded (and later renamed to 2K Australia in 2007). A third studio, 2K Marin, was split off from Irrational in 2007, with five former Irrational Games employees leaving to join the new company. 2K Marin and 2K Australia would later work together on BioShock 2, while Irrational was developing BioShock Infinite. In 2014 the studio began a major restructuring in which the majority of the staff were laid off in preparation for the creation of a new smaller studio.


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.[1]
  • 2007 – Irrational Games is renamed to 2K Boston and 2K Australia on August 10.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] Soon after, 2K Games announced the formation of 2K Marin in Novato.[5]

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.[6] This was eventually revealed to be BioShock Infinite.

Before Irrational started development on BioShock Infinite, the studio did preliminary work for the XCOM project that later became The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.[7]

Restructuring of the studio[edit]

On February 18, 2014 it was announced by Ken Levine via an open letter posted on the Irrational Games website that the vast majority of the studio would be laid off, with all but fifteen members of the staff losing their positions.[8] 2K Games hosted a career day for the remaining 75 employees to help seek employment at 57 other studios.[9]

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.[10] Through 2014 to 2015 Irrational Games continued to post several openings for jobs at the studio.[11][12][13] In January 2015, Levine and the remaining staff are currently developing their first game which will be a "first-person sci-fi" game.[14] As of April 2016, the studio still has a limited number of job openings posted on its website.[15]

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. ^
  2. ^ "Irrational Games Renamed 2K Boston and 2K Australia". Business Wire. August 10, 2007. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  3. ^ The Return Of Irrational Games
  4. ^ "Q&A: Ken Levine talks BioShock, reminisces about X-Com". GameSpot. March 20, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Take-Two confirms 2K Marin". GameSpot. December 17, 2007. Retrieved April 9, 2009. 
  6. ^ Totilo, Stephen. "BioShock Creators' Next Game Debuts Next Week, Trailer On Aug. 12". Kotaku. 
  7. ^ Plante, Chris (March 6, 2014). "The final years of Irrational Games, according to those who were there". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ "Irrational Games closure led to 75 layoffs, job fair hosted 57 studios". Polygon. February 28, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2014. 
  10. ^ Morris, Chris (May 14, 2014). "Take-Two CEO open to buying more studios". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  11. ^ Gera, Emily (November 24, 2014). "BioShock developer Irrational Games is hiring again". Polygon. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  12. ^ Tach, Dave (May 6, 2015). "BioShock creator Irrational Games continues to hire for its mystery project". Polygon. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  13. ^ Frank, Allegra (December 11, 2015). "Irrational Games hiring for 'narrative first-person shooter' project". Polygon. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  14. ^ Phillips, Tom (January 28, 2015). "BioShock creator Ken Levine teases new first-person sci-fi project". Eurogamer. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Careers at the former Irrational Games". Irrational Games. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 

External links[edit]