Several former employees of the now defunct BioShock developer Irrational Games have spoken out on the final days at the studio following its shock closure.
According to the Polygon report, a total of 70 permanent employees were laid off, along with five contractors. Speaking under conditions of anonymity, one employee told the site that suspicions of layoffs arose when workloads tailed off in early 2014 following the completing of the last BioShock Infinite DLC. But the studio's complete closure came as complete surprise.
"Some people did seem worried about layoffs," said a source. "But it seemed to me that most expected that we were going to have some downtime while the studio leadership figured out the next thing to start working on."
The closure announcement came direct from studio head Ken Levine on Tuesday, February 18, some two hours before the public announcement.
One source described "a willful disbelief," as Levine made the announcement to a silent room of developers, hands apparently shaking. "Some submitted to the idea that the company would live forever because they had shipped BioShock," they added.
"It was really nice and really sympathetic," said another source. "They gave us as much info as we could really handle at the time."
According to the sources, employees were not immediately ejected from the building, but were instead given time to organize portfolios and schedule pickups for their belongings. A job fair was also scheduled by Irrational.
Levine publicly announced plans to close his accomplished BioShock studio via a lengthy web post, detailing plans to form a new outfit made up of "about fifteen members of the Irrational team", with a focus on "narrative-driven" digital games "that are highly replayable".
Levine confirmed that his new studio will be started under the wing of Irrational Games parent firm Take-Two. A focus on download-only titles was confirmed, but Levine made no reference to any specific platforms.