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2K Marin has been put in charge of  BioShock 's future
2K Marin has been put in charge of BioShock's future
May 30, 2014 | By Mike Rose

May 30, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has shed some light on the future of several franchises the publisher currently has under its belt, including hints at what we can expect from the BioShock and Red Dead series.

Speaking at the Cowen and Company analyst conference, and as reported by GameSpot, Zelnick was asked why Take-Two does not take the same approach as some other publishers, flooding the market with new games rather than taking the more selective angle that Take-Two currently holds.

"The risk of just [releasing more games] is that you end up just bulking up your release schedule and that isn't really what consumers want," Zelnick explained. "Consumers want better, not more."

"So our selective approach, which we've taken since 2007 I think has paid off," he continued. "Now, we have gotten more by taking that approach; we've launched one new successful franchise every year and I would like to keep doing that particularly because I talk about permanent franchises, but not everything is going to be a permanent franchise. Some of our great franchises eventually will lose their luster and some will hopefully be permanent."

Grand Theft Auto, for example, is an "obvious" permanent franchise for Take-Two according to Zelnick, while Borderlands and the NBA series also fall under this permanent umbrella.

"We think [BioShock is] important and certainly something that we're focused on; something 2K Marin will be responsible for shepherding going forward."
And Zelnick added that "it seems quite obvious that Red Dead is a permanent franchise," while BioShock is "important [and] certainly something that we're focused on."

The future of the BioShock franchise was left up in the air earlier this year, as Irrational Games co-founder Ken Levine revealed that the studio was shutting down.

"We haven't given any color on how you should think about it yet except we do believe it's beloved," Zelnick noted of BioShock, adding that 2K Marin has been put in charge of the franchise's future.

This comes as a surprise, given that 2K Marin was gutted at the end of 2013, with some staff laid off, and others reallocated to other 2K studios. Of course, BioShock 2 was developed by 2K Marin.

"I think there's a lot of upside in that franchise," Zelnick added of BioShock. "It hasn't necessarily been realized yet. And the question for the future, assuming we decide to answer the question, would be 'How do you stay true to that creatively?'"

You can read all of Zelnick's comments on GameSpot.

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Terry Matthes
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Why does Bioshock need a future? Why can't we just enjoy it for what it was and use all those incredibly talented people to come up with an awesome new experience. Not every idea has to be flogged until no more cash comes out.

Merc Hoffner
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Lol wut?

A studio that exists and doesn't exist at the same time? It could only be Bioshock I suppose.

"How do you stay true to that creatively?"

Well, dumping all your creatives from two studios, then putting nobody to work on it wouldn't be MY first move. But I guess I'm just not being creative enough.

George Menhal III
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Good luck with that, 2K Marin.

The typical dude bro COD Advanced Modern Cyber Warfare: 11 doesn't care about Bioshock, and a simple copy and paste job isn't going to please any established fans of the series... myself included.

You will forever be working in the shadow of the great team that came before you. Have fun.

Merc Hoffner
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On the point, personally, I very much liked Bioshock 2 (developed by Marin). It had all the artistry and detail of Bioshock, plus a refined gameplay that maintained the tactical complexity while making it string together much more smoothly. In fact apart from the skyhooks which were a kinetic triumph, I've seen many regard the actual play of Infinite as rather dumbed down and bro-ified - in that regard, the actual gameplay, Marin's efforts may well have been the pinnacle in the series.

And so Irrational have actually delivered something exceptional - a set of games where the plot, the characters, the themes and the raw creativity demonstrably lift the game even where the gameplay doesn't. Not that the gameplay was poor - Infinite was certainly exciting and entertaining, but much more generic and less cerebral than even their own previous effort - presumably in misguided (or perhaps not misguided) hopes of attracting wider audiences.

And so, despite possibly having the least dumb and most refined gameplay, Bioshock 2 is relegated (quite rightly in this case) to the bottom of the heap, for the sin of not being nearly as creative or compelling, in its art, plot, narrative, themes or characters. It's a rare achievement, and I'm not being facetious.

Fortunately, through trial and error the problem and challenge are well defined and accepted: Great Bioshock demands brain-busting creativity, and heady thematic delights. Unfortunately that stuff doesn't grow on trees. Marin would have done a more than fine job iterating a sequel to just about any game. The challenge that Irrational throws down is that Bioshock now demands complete creative reinvention to count. Apparently gameplay is 'solved'. Everything else needs to be out-of-this-world, and everything else needs to count.

Michael Joseph
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Zelnick compares Bioshock to GTA as "obvious" permanent franchises. I think it's a lot easier when your franchise is built around a more open, non linear design with a high degree of player agency, than when it's a game that's on rails.

Rockstar is way ahead of the curve when it comes to building successful AAA franchises with long lasting appeal. People still play GTA 5 long after finishing the main story. People stop playing Bioshock once their OCD has finally gotten them through the damn thing.

Also, it must be hard to build a Bioshock game when the romantic vision of the game is that of a non linear, slower paced, thinking man's shooter (because of it's pedigree) but the reality is nothing of the kind. Infinite still resembles the type of fast paced theme park ride designed for impetuous youths with short attention spans.

If I'm 2K Martin, I'd spend a lot of time trying to figure out how I can make the Bioshock series more relatable to it's audience. That doesn't mean debasing the design. It means being able to provide narratives that are a bit more universal. Before it lost it's way and became mindless entertainment, the Star Wars saga was very relatable for young boys by tapping into the insecurities of youth and the epiphanies that come as they transition into adulthood. Insecurities included Luke fearing a pedestrian life, wanting to believe he had a special destiny, fear of turning into his father (sins of the father and all that). Epiphanies included realizing that his father wasn't the #1 dad in the world after all, that fears must be confronted, that forgiveness and compassion can help break cycles, learning what it means to be a friend and have friends, and that if life is to have meaning you have to believe in something and fight for it.