What's In A Name? Irrational Returns
There's power in legacy. It's a power, a significance, this industry is only just old enough to offer. Which makes it peculiar that publishers so often seem determined to conceal it all with the incessant anonymisation of acquired studios. As Ubisoft, EA and 2K (among others) buy and rename studios, we're left with a collection of studios that presumably present well on a Power Point demonstration in a shareholder meeting, but do little for allowing gamers to associate a particular studio with a particular legacy. I think the importance of this has been severely underestimated. We seek out the films from particular combinations of actors or directors, we buy the next book by the same author, and I think that very often people are loyal to studios. There has to be a huge audience who would have bought anything with the name "Irrational" on the box, who aren't going to remember 2K franchise they were. Oh, wait, that example's no good any more. No more are they 2K Boston! Game Informer reports they're Irrational once again.
The announcement isn't quite finished yet. The next issue of Game Informer (in the US) is to explain everything properly, coinciding with the relaunch of Irrational's own website. (The site is currently just a loudly clicking countdown timer, ticking away the seconds until 12th January when more becomes clear. However, a few snippets are already available. Game Informer's teaser for the story informs us,
"After repeatedly being referred to as "2K Boston (formerly Irrational Games)," the team members recognized a value in the previous identity and the legacy that was tied to it. So, the name was changed again; 2K Boston is no more, and Irrational Games is back."
They imply that it's not just an aesthetic change, but rather an attempt to connect with their own history - a developer who, born out of Looking Glass, brought us System Shock 2, Freedom Force, Tribes: Vengeance, and of course BioShock. The new website will apparently contain information about those games, and "insight into the game creation process."
Of course, this all leads one to assume we must be getting close to an announcement about their new game. Game Informer, famed for often carrying the biggest surprises on its cover, could well be about to finally announce whether Ken Levine and his gang are working on a new XCOM game, or something completely different.
There's power in a name. It's good to see 2K and Irrational realising that.
Oh, and if you think a studio changing name isn't a very interesting news story, here's some pictures of a baby panda escaping a cot.