A recent report suggests that Ken Levine’s studio Ghost Story Games has trouble creating content and has lost half of its founders.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Ken Levine’s auteur management style has caused development hell at Ghost Story Games.
In the report, staff members have been contacted who say that the studio has failed to produce a game. The studio was formed eight years ago when Irrational Games closed, with 11 members of the previous studio joining together to create a smaller team that could be more experimental in their design.
While still owned by Take-Two, the parent company that previously owned Irrational, the company is seemingly untroubled by funding or oversight. This has allowed them immense freedom to create whatever they would like.
In 2014, BioShock director Ken Levine shut down his studio to start a smaller company. Eight years later, nothing has come from it. Half the founders have quit.
This is a story about a video game auteur whose management style has hurt a lot of people: https://t.co/N9HAetQHQ5
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 3, 2022
The first product of this freedom is a style of game described as “narrative Lego”, where each player would have a different experience based on their actions. However, this has caused problems. The report describes Levine as someone who likes to see each section of a project and evaluate it as it is created. However, the narrative Lego approach means that many parts of the game are incomplete when viewed and are frequently scrapped by Levine.
Levine’s tendency to cut content is nothing new, with him saying that he cut enough from Bioshock Infinite to make two games. However, after so much time developing without producing a product, many staff members felt it was time to leave. Over half of the original Irrational staff have left Ghost Story Games.
“The ideas and ambitions were great,” Giovanni Pasteris, an early employee, wrote to Bloomberg in an email. “But the scope just grew and grew without concern for the team’s ability to get it done by our fall 2017 deadline. Ken wanted to make a triple-A game with a ‘budget’ team size. It was never going to happen.”