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Games Entertainment

Irrational No More 50

Posted by Zonk
from the not-even-on-the-demo dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Cory Banks at Gamers With Jobs has an interesting look at Irrational Games becoming '2K Boston'/'2K Australia' on the eve of the Bioshock release. It's not just about 2K and Irrational, publishers re-naming independents to generic studio names has obviously been going on for a long time. 'Rockstar Games is often credited with the Grand Theft Auto series, but the games were developed by Scottish developer DMA Designs, who were bought by Rockstar in 2002, shortly after GTA III came out, and quickly renamed Rockstar North to build up the brand recognition associated with the mega-blockbuster. Rockstar isn't even a development company at all, but a collection of development studios owned by Take-Two, sharing one brand name. The general public hardly knows the difference.'"
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Irrational No More

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    How dare you say I'm no longer irrational!
  • Too bad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bomanbot (980297) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @04:46PM (#20229797)
    ...another great developer studio getting swallowed up into a publisher, like Bullfrog or Origin or countless others.

    Irrational Games was especially impressive to me because they produced some very diverse and excellent games, besides Bioshock they also made the spiritual precedessor System Shock 2 and they also developed the awesome and (IMO) underrated Freedom Force games.

    So goodbye Irrational Games, I hope 2K Games will be better to you than EA was to Bullfrog and Origin.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Freedom Force was very highly rated by the major sources. It is above Doom 3, Call of Duty 2 and Diablo II on Gamerankings.

      • by andrewd18 (989408)
        Well yeah, Freedom Force is ranked well. It was designed to be hilariously fun, not purposely scary, historical, or deep, like the aforementioned games. Like The Sims or Katamari Damacy, fun games tend to do very well amongst gamers of all types.
    • Re:Too bad... (Score:4, Informative)

      by atomicstrawberry (955148) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @09:37PM (#20232195)
      No, System Shock 2 (and a pile of other excellent games) were by Looking Glass Studios. When Looking Glass Studios died, a few of them got together and formed Irrational Games. They may have some of the same developers, but saying that Irrational developed System Shock 2 isn't strictly true.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Irrational was founded before LG died. LG contributed the game engine and know-how. Irrational did the rest of the game development, which is the big part.


        Just watch the credits.avi video. (What's your nick on TTLG?)

    • by Zeussy (868062)
      2K Games have seemed to be very good to Irrational thus far. Quote from this Gamasutra [gamasutra.com] article:

      The publisher also says that its 2K Games label has "fostered the studio's growth by substantially investing in its people," giving 2K Boston the means to double its studio size since its 2005 acquisition.

      As far as I know, 2K Games has so far let Irrational grow and operate relatively unhindered and non-intrusive. I don't think anything bad is going to happen to Irrational under 2K. My worry would more be Take

    • by vimh42 (981236)
      They made Freedom Force? Ah that was fun stuff.
  • Sad but true... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ravyne (858869) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @04:56PM (#20229939)
    Its currently a sad fact that the game's industry is becoming more and more anonymous in many ways. There are so incredibly few "superstar" game developers - Miyamoto, Carmack, Wright, Kojima, Itagaki... If I spent some time thinking, I could probably come up with 10 or so names that have some notoriety outside of very small circles. Smaller devs are being assimilated by the big players, team sizes are growing nearly exponentially with each new generation. Its becoming a commodity business, where faceless masses simply provide a product; and it takes a great deal of personality out of the industry.

    On top of that, the publishing model works much like the music industry -- The publisher fronts money to the devs, and they don't see a profit until their royalties have paid off the development in full, sometimes with interest. Thats why there's so little innovation, and thats why a single bad title can fold a studio.
    • Re:Sad but true... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Control Group (105494) * on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:27PM (#20230267) Homepage
      I don't think it's quite as bleak as all that. Yes, it takes larger and larger teams to produce the full-immersion virtual worlds of GTA, Elder Scrolls, or Gears of War. But that doesn't necessarily have to be as depressing as you make it out to be.

      For one thing, the full-on AAA title can still take its direction - its flavor, focus, feel, and maybe another word that starts with f or two - from one person. I think we can, as we so often do, look to the movie industry for the logical end point of this sequence. It takes a massive army of people to produce a modern movie. But that doesn't mean that you can't have individual people make names for themselves. Peter Jackson, Guy Ritchie, the Wachowskis, etc. all put their distinct stamp on a work. The key is to have someone making the top-level decisions who has a good vision to work towards.

      The other encouraging thing, of course, is that we aren't at a point yet where it's impossible to make a quality, even popular, by yourself or with a small group of people. Geometry Wars and Line Rider come quickly to mind as examples. The bar is higher than it used to be, of course: the hobbyist/garage developer is forced to compete solely on gameplay, since they have no hope of competing with iD's, Epic's, or Valve's latest engine (although the availability of a product like Torque makes even this statement not as damning as it could be).

      But I don't think we're at a terribly high risk of entering an era where individual names are lost to a sea of undifferentiated product. Your Mark Reins, CliffyBs, and Peter Molyneauxs are and will continue to be pivotal figures in the industry. I think we're going to continue to see such names come up.

      The only risk I see on the horizon, really, is if PC gaming eventually dies. Right now, there is no real publishing barrier to entry into the market. If your game really is good enough, all you need is a web site and a file host. Consoles, however, change that dynamic. Maybe Microsoft's nascent foray into user-produced games will eventually turn into a real option for hobbyists, but if it doesn't, there's still no way to break into the console games industry unless you're already established.

      Which is a shame, because there could be fantastic potential, there.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Ren.Tamek (898017)
        Maybe Microsoft's nascent foray into user-produced games will eventually turn into a real option for hobbyists

        Actually, the puropse of Microsoft's XNA is both transparent and selfish, and has nothing to do with hobby games development. Xbox 360 games dev kits are sold to Universities at a cheap rate, along with Microsoft certified training on their 'XNA' system, which co-incidentally isn't very much like any other programming language used to make games that was ever created. Once a large enough pool of st

        • It's not quite that bad. Any good teacher will teach "programming" not "language X". So anybody with half a brain should be able to learn something new (I started programming in Fortran ;)).

          But you're right, Microsoft isn't doing this out of kindness. They want to get as many people hooked on C#/XNA as they can in hopes that most of them stick with it into the professional world.

          Apple tried the same thing with their computers in the 1980's. It didn't work too well, and I think most people equated Apple wi

      • Hiring a backup band so you can sing a song you wrote does not make it any less your song.

        Mal-2
  • what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by u8i9o0 (1057154) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @05:35PM (#20230333)
    Take-Two bought DMA Designs in September 1999.
    Take-Two is the parent company of Rockstar Games.
    In 2002, all they did was rename DMA Designs to Rockstar Studios.
    (see: March 19, 2002 [take2games.com])

    The overall issue: companyA is now called companyB.
    From my experience, the biggest impact of a company name change is that a lot of stationary needs to be replaced.

    From the article:

    Even in a community as level-headed as this, the thread about the name change is ruthless, posters furious that Take-Two would claim any credit for the eventual success of BioShock and sully Irrational's good name with brand recognition bollocks.
    Maybe I'm crazy but perhaps they'll re-brand it because they pay for everything.
  • DMA Lemmings (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jonah Hex (651948) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .smtodxeh.> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @07:07PM (#20231235) Homepage Journal
    DMA before they became Rockstar North [wikipedia.org] - Creators of one of the best puzzle games ever, which crossed sex and age barriers, Lemmings. Those green guys with the purple wavy hairdos truly rocked.

    Jonah HEX
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Das Modell (969371)
      A DMA game published by Psygnosis. Now DMA is Rockstar North and Psygnosis is somewhere in the bowels of Sony, called SCE Studio Liverpool. Now Irrational is just 2K Boston/2K Australia which doesn't even make any fucking sense.

      I don't like this development. Soon we'll just have games developed and published by EA, 2K, Sony or Ubisoft. Kind of like if movies were primarily identified with the studio that released them, as opposed to the director, writer, producers and actors.

      Is this really useful for publis
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Swift(void) (655825)

        I don't like this development. Soon we'll just have games developed and published by EA, 2K, Sony or Ubisoft. Kind of like if movies were primarily identified with the studio that released them, as opposed to the director, writer, producers and actors.

        When the starting credits sequence rolls on movies, it is almost universal that the movie and production studios that were involved in the title have their logos appear on screen first, before even the actors names. I dare say what you suggest is exactly wha

        • Well that's true, but nobody cares about the studio. After a movie is over I don't remember what studio made it.
          • Which makes film advertisements along the line of "From the Producers of [insert name here]" all the more puzzling. Who cares?
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        DMA, EA, 2K, Psygnosis are just like the studios that produces movies. They don't mean anything. Nobody cares whether Tristone or Miramax puts out a movie, and nobody cares whether Sony or DMA puts out a game.
      • by CaseM (746707)
        Psygnosis is somewhere in the bowels of Sony

        You make it sound like Sony is some Beast from the pit of he...ohhhhhh, I get it!
      • by Kabal` (111455)
        Ugh, Psygnosis becoming SCE Studio Liverpool makes me sad. Under the SCE Liverpool name they haven't really produced anything great other than Wipeout Pure for PSP. Just the same Formula 1 Playstation game over and over and over...

      • by Creepy (93888)
        I wouldn't worry TOO much - there are still many other large studios and self-publishers like primarily console producers Konami and Capcom, mixed studios like Microsoft Game Studios, Atari (nee Infrogrames), and Vivendi (owner of Blizzard), and primarily PC studios like Apogee (3D Realms), Id, and Epic Megagames, just to scratch the surface.

        Unions like the Directors Guild of America require movie studios to show credits at the start, which is why George Lucas resigned from it to release Star Wars credits f
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by biovoid (785377)

      Those pink guys with the green wavy hairdos and blue tunics truly rocked.

      Fixed! :)

      • by Jonah Hex (651948)
        Man what color glasses was I wearing in the 90's, of course I can plead sleep deprivation from working on my TAG and Obv/2 BBS's. ;)
        Jonah HEX
    • Your racist revisionism not-withstanding, you're right on the money. It was hands-down the greatest game I ever played on my Commodore Amiga 500+ growing up. Not even Zool, or T2: Judgement day could touch it, especially when you chose to admit defeat and explode hundreds of the little buggers at once with the nuke button. Happy days.

      Godspeed my pink, green-haired, lil sluggers. Godspeed.
  • I say we print up some cute stickers with the irrational logo and go on a rampage and stick it over the Take-Two logo on every package of Bioshock.

    Of course if you really want recognition, stick it on copies of Madden '08 too!
  • A small game development company/indie developer cannot afford all this publicity and ads. Not to mention they are unknown and new to begin with. A large company with a recognized brand will get more buyers and will spend much less effort to launch a new game. If Indie Game developers would cooperate on advertising and concentrate their games under single brand people would recognize and buy these games.(Yeah, they wouldn't be "Indie" anymore in the strict meaning of term.)
  • by Bagggy (1112373) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @02:12PM (#20239329)

    As some others here have said, its largely not about the name. It's not like 2K didn't already own Irrational Games. They've had the option to change the name if they so wished for awhile now. The Dev team at Irrational is not physically changing in any way. All the guys are still there. So it really doesn't matter unless they fire everyone on the team from Irrational, which is quite frankly, completely irrational. Why would you rename a studio and then just dissolve it?

    If there is one thing slightly upsetting about this situation, it's that Irrational Games is a much more awesome studio name than 2K Games.

  • I've seen a few people compare this to movies, but the comparison is kind of wrong. What's happening here is that we are hiding the true creators of the game (the folks from Irrational), and just lumping the credit for the creation to the financers (2K) by hiding their name under 2K Boston/2K Australia.

    This would be the same as if we never knew who directed Lord of the Rings other than "New Line Cinema New Zealand". In movies, people still associate the product with it's creator (usually the director and

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