Lawbreakers, the first game from Gears of War director Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions, struggled to make an impact in the hero shooter market–so much so that the studio eventually closed, having only released one other game, the Early Access Radical Heights. Now Bleszinski, who retired from games and has been working in the world of theatre as a producer, is writing a book about his life–and it’s leading to some reflection.
In a Facebook post, Bleszinski says that as he works through the section of his book about forming his own studio, it’s bringing up some feelings for him. “In spite of it being difficult, in a way, it’s therapeutic,” he says. “The first two years were a blast but the tail end was extremely difficult on everyone and I’ve had more than enough time to reflect on my time running that studio.”
“We should have started with a small, indie game FIRST before trying to make the shooter we ultimately did,” he reflects, before digging into the specific issues Lawbreakers faced. Bleszinski has previously lamented how it was a mistake to release Lawbreakers on PS4 rather than Xbox One, which he reiterated in this post. “I already had a core base of fans on Xbox,” he writes.
“Indecision about free to play or $29.99 caused customer confusion as well,” he continues (the game ended up costing $30). “Putting my own personal politics front and center certainly didn’t help!” Bleszinski has previously said that he thinks the game was “too woke”.
He also talks about how Radical Heights suffered because it was “hard to motivate a team that just saw their previous game crater and (knew) that this battle royale is the hail Mary to possibly save the studio.” He alludes to the Aliens FPS that never was, too, referencing “the frustration of having a shot at the Aliens franchise and then suddenly Disney does what Disney does and buys Fox which puts that in limbo.” The details of this deal, however, will have to wait until the book releases.
However, for all of these difficulties, Bleszinski seems more confident about the future of gaming thanks to some titles he has played recently. “I’ve found myself madly in love with smaller games these days, and the success of Fall Guys and Among Us give me hope that not everything needs to be insane AAA that requires crazy crunch that ruins families and mental health on a 100m budget,” he says. “The other title I’m madly in love with is The Touryst on the Switch. So simple, yet deceptively tricky in parts, and just cute as heck with the art style.”
He says that these smaller, successful games “give me hope that I may one day dip my toe back into the biz, ever so slowly and cautiously.”
For the record, he’s right: The Touryst is really great.
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