Irrational Games, the legendary developer best known for the BioShock franchise, is no more. Writing on the company’s official website, founder Ken Levine has confirmed that the studio is shutting down after an incredible 17 years of development. The outfit’s last ever release will be the second episode of its Burial at Sea add-on for BioShock Infinite, which is due out on 25th March in North America.

“I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it,” the legendary developer wrote. “I’ll be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavour at Take-Two. That is going to mean parting ways with all but about fifteen members of the Irrational Games team. There’s no great way to lay people off, and our first concern is to make sure that the people who are leaving have as much support as we can give them during this transition.”

The firm will be offering full support to those remaining staff members in order to help them find work elsewhere. “Besides financial support, the staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios,” he continued. “Other Take-Two studios will be on hand to discuss opportunities within the company, and we’ll be hosting a recruiting day where we’ll be giving third party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews.”

Meanwhile, the remainder of the team will turn its attention to “narrative-driven games [...] that are highly replayable”. The auteur stopped short of sharing any specific plans, but did stress that these titles will be released through services such as the PlayStation Network. “To foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible, we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally,” he concluded.

As a result, the BioShock franchise will be passed on to 2K Games. It’s unclear whether there are any plans to continue the series, but it’s not like Irrational Games has been at the helm of every title in the property – after all, BioShock 2 was tackled primarily by 2K Marin. One thing’s for sure, though: Levine can almost certainly put to bed those questions about BioShock Vita now. If people weren’t losing their jobs here, we’d argue that that was the luminary’s primary incentive behind this move.

[via irrationalgames.com]