Gears Of War Designer Explains Why He’ll Never Make Another Game
Cliff Bleszinski, who co-created the Gears of War franchise at Epic Games before splitting off to create the ill-fated LawBreakers studio Boss Key, says he’ll probably never make another video game.
In a statement posted to his Facebook page, Bleszinski said, “I really, honestly, feel over it. (making games).” Bleszinski said he’s bowing out due to a number of reasons, including because the world has become so “polarized” as it relates to how people converse.
“We’re in a polarized world in which we yell at each other through the glaze of glowing rectangles, when we could be kind to one another in person,” he explained. “We’re in a world where it’s cooler to watch other people play 1-3 games than to actually play one yourself. We’re in a world where you’re measured by the number of likes, subscribes, and impressions you get.
“We’re in a world where expectations for a product are so off the charts, as are marketing budgets, that game budgets are so crazy that the average consumer can’t wrap their head around the cost of making said product.”
Bleszinski’s new studio, Boss Key, went belly-up after LawBreakers and follow-up battle royale game Radical Heights failed to find an audience. Bleszinski says he’s not bitter, pointing out that he still has a good relationship with people in the video game industry, including Epic Games executive Mark Rein.
Bleszinski’s comments about never making another game started earlier this week when someone criticized him on Twitter for not doing right by his former employees at Boss Key. Bleszinski stated that he paid his employees their salaries, including benefits like 401(k) and health care, for “months” after Boss Key went under. Not only this, but Bleszinski said he didn’t take a salary for two years after starting Boss Key.
“This kinda sh** is another reason I am NEVER making another game,” he said about the drama.
God of War PS4 director Cory Barlog responded to Bleszinski’s tweet with a statement of support, saying, “You did right by your people Cliff. That is something to be respected and held up as a standard for how we should all aspire to treat those we create with. How we conduct ourselves in the tough times matters equally as how we treat those we rely on in the good.”
Former Boss Key developer Zach Lowery took issue with Bleszinski’s claim that Boss Key paid salaries and benefits for “months” after the company closed. Lowery said he was only paid severance for three weeks, and after this, Bleszinski admitted his “months” statement might have been hyperbolic in nature. Bleszinski went on to publicly remind Lowery of the time that Bleszinski took Lowery and his family on a private jet to New Orleans. Lowery said he will never forget that trip, adding that Bleszinski was “super generous.”
And you suddenly forget the time I took you and the fam on a private jet on our own dime to Nola? C’mon, man. 😔
— Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) November 15, 2018
The back-and-forth between Bleszisnki and Lowery might sound like a heated exchange, but Bleszinski claims it’s just playful ribbing between the two. Overall, Bleszinski says he’s still friends with about 90 percent of former Boss Key developers.
Going back to his Facebook post, Bleszinski said “games were good to me,” but pointed out again that he doesn’t see himself ever coming back to make another game.
Bleszinski, who saw a massive payday when Chinese internet giant Tencent bought shares in Epic, said he was fortunate to have the opportunity to “retire” from working in games, which can be a gruelling experience. Bleszinski was also an early investor in Oculus, and made a “very sizable chunk of money” when Facebook bought the virtual reality company.
“You haven’t seen the thousand yard stares that I’ve gotten from other developer friends who HAVEN’T been able to retire when we have a pint and they’re done with work,” he said. “The non-stop dysfunction. No one knows what they’re doing, and those who hit it big are just as talented as they are lucky, and have good timing. Most have families, and the instability of the business terrifies them. Hell, it scared me, not having kids–imagine fearing for your job and being encouraged to work 12+ hour days, six days a week, just to provide for your family.”
For now, Bleszinski said he is going to focus on spending time with his family and friends, as well as his dogs.
The Gears of War franchise is now run by Microsoft, which bought the series from Epic back in 2014 for an undisclosed sum. As for Epic, it’s doing quite well right now thanks to the massive success of Fortnite. In fact, it was Bleszinski who revealed Fortnite to the world seven years ago.