Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions Shuts Down

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It’s never good news when a video game developer closes its doors. This week prominent developer and industry veteran Cliff Bleszinski announced the closure of his studio, Boss Key Productions. The statement was posted via twitter, where he cited LawBreaker’s failing sales and Radical Heights being “too little late.”

Boss Key Productions was founded in 2014 by Bleszinski and programmer Arjun Brussee. The studio’s first project was competitive first person shooter LawBreakers. LawBreakers has been compared to Overwatch, minus the beloved character designs and wide range of play styles.

LawBreakers launched last fall. Despite decent reviews it failed to ever generate a player base or enough sales to keep the online game sustained in the long term.

Instead Boss Key quickly pivoted to Radical Heights, a Fortnite-like Battle Royale game that was lambasted for being a quick cash-grab on the popular genre. It’s only been out for a month via Steam Early Access.

What makes this closure interesting is that Bleszinski has been very open about his production woes on twitter. In a series of tweets he revealed concept art and ideas for games that he was pitching to big publishers. The games included DragonFlies, a co-op vehicular action game with dragons as planes, and Toobin, a cutesy VR racing game with cartoon animals.

Bleszinski broke into the industry at Epic Games, starting in 1992. In 20 years he helped create Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal Tournament, and the first three Gears of War games, becoming one of the most recognizable household names in game development. He has become one of the most successful game designers and producers, and thanks to early investment in VR through Oculus, one of the wealthiest.

He temporarily retired, a bit jaded from the games industry, in 2012. Two years later he returned to the industry by co-founding Boss Key.

Whether Bleszinski returns again to gaming remains uncertain, as he states: “Videogames will forever be a part of who I am and I hope to make something new again someday, however, I need to withdraw and take this time.


Multiplayer First Person Shooter LawBreakers Out Today

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After a brief stint in retirement, game design veteran Cliff Bleszinski formed new studio Boss Key Productions a few years ago. Their first game is LawBreakers, an online multiplayer shooter that features multiple classes and gravity-defying maps. LawBreakers is launching today on PC and PlayStation 4 for $29.99.

“From the beginning, we committed ourselves at Boss Key to find the fun first when making LawBreakers, and place gameplay ahead of everything else. Since then, we’ve worked to push the genre into a new direction, taking everything we’ve learned in the past to deliver a super fast FPS that challenges gamers to be their best and truly compete in gravity-defying combat,” said Cliff Bleszinski, co-founder and CEO, Boss Key Productions. “We’re thankful to all the fans that participated in the various alphas and betas we rolled out. We always strived to do open development, and found that being upfront and honest with our testing, along with no NDAs, provided invaluable, transparent feedback. Without this rapport, the game wouldn’t be what it is today – and we think we have something really special because of it.”

LawBreakers features a future world where the laws of gravity have been shattered. All eight maps feature sections of low gravity for aerial combat. You can choose between nine different classes, from melee assassins to heavy weapons and support. A total of five different modes are available, including slight twists on king of the hill, control points, and capture the flag.

Boss Key partnered with Nexon, a Korean publisher who specializes in online gaming, to help publish LawBreakers.

“We’re very proud to be publishing the debut title for Boss Key Productions, one of the hottest new American game development studios,” said Jungsoo Lee, General Manager of Nexon America.“We truly believe Cliff and team have developed something great, breathing fresh air into the multiplayer FPS genre and pushing it to a new level.”

LawBreakers has been rated M for Mature, with Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language. By comparison, Overwatch is rated T for Teen.

LawBreakers is out now for PC and PlayStation 4.


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PAX East 2016 Kicks Off Today

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The sixth annual PAX East gaming convention begins today. It lasts throughout the weekend. The popular Penny Arcade Expo was originally created in Seattle in 2004 by Penny Arcade webcomic artist and writer duo Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. Since then it has expanded to Boston in 2010 (PAX East), Melbourne in 2013 (PAX Australia), and San Antonio in 2015 (PAX South). Read More