Gears Of War designer Cliff Bleszinski leaves Epic Games

Cliff Bleszinski

In a completely unexpected development — seriously, nobody saw this one coming — Cliff Bleszinski has left Epic Games. A blog post appeared moments ago on the official Epic Games website announcing the decision, and saying that this departure would allow Bleszinski to “chart the next stage of his career.” Notably absent from the blog post however, was any mention of what this “next stage” might be.

What it lacks in solid information about the future though, the announcement more than makes up for in praise for Bleszinski’s work at Epic over the years. Assuming you don’t religiously follow the gaming business, you likely know Cliff Bleszinski best as the lead designer of the hyper-successful Gears Of War franchise. Those with more impressive memories will likely recall that Bleszinski also played a key role in the creation of such classics as Unreal, Jazz Jackrabbit, and Unreal Tournament. As a result (and likely due to Bleszinski’s gregarious, outspoken nature), he has become something of a figurehead both for Epic and for its most famous games.

“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,” said Epic co-founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. “Cliff leaves Epic with our gratitude for his many contributions, and our wishes for continued success in the next chapter of his life!”

Likewise, Epic president Dr. Michael Capps has nothing but praise for Bleszinski, saying, “In my 10 years of working with Cliff, his passion for creating video games of the highest quality has been unflinching. We are grateful for all of his hard work, and remain committed to making our fans happy and to always raising the bar in everything we do at Epic.”

As for Bleszinski himself, though he offers no commentary on what his next career move might entail, he did pen the following heartfelt message to colleagues at Epic prior to the announcement:

I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager, and outside of my sabbatical last year, I have been going non-stop. I literally grew up in this business, as Mike likes to say. And now that I’m grown up, it’s time for a much needed break.

I will miss the projects, the playtests, the debates, and most importantly, the people. Epic only hires the best of the best, and it has been a joy working with each and every one of you on a daily basis, whether you were hired weeks ago or decades ago. I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with a variety of disciplines, from code to art to marketing and PR – it’s been one big, rewarding learning experience. I’m confident that each project that is being built, whether at Epic, Chair, PCF, or Impossible will be top notch and will please gamers and critics alike.

As we stated above, Bleszinski is one of the very few game designers who, in the course of his career, successfully transitioned from notable industry figure to genuine celebrity. Though he was never the highest officer at Epic Games, his name and face are instantly conjured up in the minds of most fans when you mention either Epic of the Gears Of War series. Hoping to ascertain where the company goes from here, now that it’s lost both a key employee and its most famous face, we asked Epic what its plans might be, but unfortunately the company is either currently unable or unwilling to share any details beyond what you can find in that aforementioned blog post. We expect to hear further information from both Bleszinski and Epic shortly.

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