Cliff 'CliffyB' Bleszinski has confirmed his retirement from the games industry, announcing via Twitter that 'I am NEVER making another game' following criticism over the folding of his self-founded studio Boss Key and the commercial failure of its titles LawBreakers and Radical Heights.
Bleszinski is best known for a 20-year stint at Epic Games, formerly Epic MegaGames, which came to an end in October 2012 for unspecified reasons. 'In 20 wonderful years with Epic, Cliff Bleszinski has grown into a true design luminary, and his contributions to the Unreal and Gears series have helped shape the game industry into what it is today,' Epic founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney said of Bleszinski's departure at the time. 'Cliff leaves Epic with our gratitude for his many contributions, and our wishes for continued success in the next chapter of his life.'
After a 'much-needed break' of around two years, Bleszinski - who claimed that he 'literally grew up in this business' - unveiled his next venture: Boss Key Productions, founded with Guerilla Games co-founder Arjan Brussee and named both for a feature of early PC games which allowed users to hide the game behind a fake productivity package when management approached and for the keys required to access in-game bosses in games like the Zelda franchise. Its first title, LawBreakers, was announced a year later but failed to catch on commercially. Its follow-up, Radical Heights, was a quick attempt at planting a flag in the burgeoning colourful battle royale market; it, too, failed to generate enough revenue to keep the company afloat, and in May this year Boss Key Productions closed its doors.
Since announcing the closure and making good on his plan to 'take some time off and reflect', Bleszinski has been largely silent on the matter of his future plans in the industry - but a response to criticism on social networking site Twitter suggests he's washing his hands of gaming altogether. Replying to a since-deleted message which accused him and his company of leaving LawBreakers gamers high and dry and demanding a refund, Bleszinski writes: 'I paid my employees, their 401ks, and their health care - even months after the studio folded. So they could care for their families. I didn't take a salary myself for two years. I get you're sad, but god, this kinda shit is another reason I am NEVER making another game.'
Responses to Bleszinski's declaration were largely positive, though one seemingly still-friendly former staff member did point out that his payments ended three weeks rather than 'months after the studio folded'. Bleszinski has also advised those interested in hearing more about what happened at Boss Key to pick up his upcoming book on the subject, which does not yet have a release date, but has not indicated where his interests may take him next - though frequent visits to karaoke are probably not an indicator to expect the launch of a pop music career.
February 17 2020 | 09:00