Boss Key Productions, the studio founded by Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski, has closed. Bleszinkski announced the news on Twitter in a statement that reflects how hard it is for an independent studio to stay afloat.
“Four years ago, I set out to make a world-class video game studio, and I hired some of the best talent in the video game industry,” he wrote. “They worked tirelessly to produce quality products and, while we had our ups and downs, I’d like to think we had fun doing it. LawBreakers was a great game that unfortunately failed to gain traction, and in a last ditch attempt, we scrambled to do our take on the huge battle royale genre with Radical Heights, which was well-received — however, it was too little too late,” Bleszinski wrote.
Although Bleszinski founded the studio four years ago after leaving Epic Games, the studio’s only two games were both released in the past year. Its debut game, LawBreakers, received praise from reviewers for its smart and fast-paced arena shooting action. Sadly, in a crowded multiplayer market filled with superpopular hero shooters like Overwatch, LawBreakers failed to find an audience.
In April, Boss Key announced it would cease production on LawBreakers while announcing Radical Heights, an ’80s-style battle royale game. Although Radical Heights arguably had better timing, given the recent success of Fortnite and PUBG, it too failed to garner a sustainable user base as a free-to-play game. It probably didn’t help that the game entered early access before it appeared to be ready, though it sounds like Boss Key had no other choice. Radical Heights had some promising ideas, which gives you an idea of how hard it is to maintain a user base in the world of multiplayer games.
Bleszinski is one of the most recognizable faces in the industry for his work on Unreal Tournament and Gears of War. As Boss Key Productions winds down operations, Bleszinski announced he would take an indefinite break from game development. He said he hopes to make games again, but for now, he will focus on his family life.
If you happen to play Radical Heights, Bleszinski said the servers will remain online “for the near future.”