It was with some trepidation, two summers ago, that fans of developer Irrational Games received the news that the company was to undergo a name change, and come under the 2K Games umbrella with the new label 2K Boston. It stank of borg; the absorption into a faceless corporation and loss of individuality and identity. The company risked losing the prestige and reputation in the name that it had built up over the years with an almost impeccable gameography1.
So it was a pleasant surprise to wake up today to the announcement that the studio is going back to their old name. Well, I lie a little when I say it was a surprise. There were rumblings of something going on with the trademark back in October, so I expected it to surface again eventually in some form or other. It would probably be safe to say there hasn’t been much damage done from the first switch, seeing as how any mention of ‘2K Boston’ was usually followed by the reminder ‘(formerly Irrational Games)’. It’s clear the old name held some value to them as it does to us, and they intend to respect their legacy as well as uphold it with their upcoming new game.
The studio has been out of the limelight for the past two years since the release of their seminal game, BioShock (its sequel being taken up by sister studio 2K Marin), and there has been no information on the title they are currently working on now. The rumour is that it’s a new X-COM game, but all we really know is that it is a “substantially more ambitious” undertaking than their previous efforts. But it looks like things will change this year: studio head Ken Levine promised with his new year wishes that they would finally come out of hiding. Things have started off with the launch of a new website, which currently has nothing but a countdown timer (at 3 days at the time of this post). Game Informer has, unsurprisingly, snagged the exclusive yet again and have an article in their upcoming February issue about Irrational’s rebirth. They have also set up an online hub page for news updates and articles, apparently to explore the “past, present and future” of Irrational Games. So there’s more to this relaunch than just an image or branding issue – by acknowledging their history they retain goodwill with the fanbase. It will be an interesting month for fans, that’s for sure, and I’ll be tweeting or posting the updates as they come.