Boss Key Productions Shuts Down Effective Immediately

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Avatar image for gaff
#1 Posted by Gaff (2755 posts) -
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#2 Posted by BisonHero (11475 posts) -

Wow. Well, it's been a rough go for that company after Lawbreakers probably undersold to a greater degree than even their worst predictions. The release of Radical Heights in such an early, super unfinished state makes more sense now; it was probably months and months away from actually being ready for the public to see, but I'd guess that the studio was doing so badly that they needed to release Radical Heights as-is on the long shot that it would somehow be super popular and bring an influx of cash to keep the studio afloat.

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#3 Posted by nutter (1406 posts) -

Hoping everyone winds up on their feet...

I remember my father bringing home Epic Pinball and Jazz Jackrabbit floppies that Epic sent our local paper in the mail (my father owned/published it).

Not too many years later, Unreal Tournament was blowing my mind. Then Gears blew my mind all over again.

I’m bet Cliff will wind up somewhere, his own company or otherwise, doing something cool before we know it.

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#4 Edited by ShaggE (9085 posts) -

It was no secret that Boss Key was in serious trouble, but still, that's a damn shame. Hope Dude Huge comes back with a hit again some day. Jill Of The Jungle VR, perhaps.

EDIT: Umm, this is weird... when I click on and refresh this thread, it redirects me here: https://www.giantbomb.com/call-of-duty-3/3030-19391/forums/meh-its-ok-4/. One time, it redirected me to an old locked thread about Mario. It only happens on this thread, from what I can tell. Can someone else try it and see what happens?

Edit 2: Seems okay now. What an odd glitch.

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#5 Posted by Vamino (283 posts) -

It's obviously not going to happen, but I really feel like they should be giving refunds to anyone that dropped money on Radical Heights in the barely more than a month it was around. It felt pretty gross that they had income streams in a game that was so unfinished anyway, but if people bought in it was with the assumption that development would continue.

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#6 Posted by pweidman (2799 posts) -

Read that a few minutes ago. Bummer. I thought their BR game was coming along nicely and looking like it'd carve it's own slice of the BR genre. Maybe some publisher will buy it up. GL to everyone affected. Cliffy will be back, I have no doubt.

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#7 Edited by MrPlatitude (207 posts) -

"I'm going to take some time off to reflect." I suppose it's just my general perception of Cliffy based on how he presents himself in interviews and such, but this just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe he can afford to just roll up the company, toss it aside as a failed experiment and take a vacation, but his employees can't afford to do the same and are going to be scrambling to find work to pay their bills and feed their families. Nothing about his statement is acknowledges that at all.

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#8 Posted by MachoFantastico (6638 posts) -

Whilst it's a shame for those employed, I had little faith in Cliff Bleszinski to begin with.

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#9 Posted by Kidavenger (4417 posts) -

"I'm going to take some time off to reflect." I suppose it's just my general perception of Cliffy based on how he presents himself in interviews and such, but this just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe he can afford to just roll up the company, toss it aside as a failed experiment and take a vacation, but his employees can't afford to do the same and are going to be scrambling to find work to pay their bills and feed their families. Nothing about his statement is acknowledges that at all.

It was a tiny startup, they would have known this was coming. Assuming he treated his employees poorly based on his statement is asinine.

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#10 Edited by Humanity (18045 posts) -

LawBreakers was a mess in more ways than one. I was honestly surprised that didn't sink them outright and they still had energy to churn out Radical Heights in whatever form. Cliffy changed a lot for the better since his super early edgy years, but I unfortunately think he's part of the old guard that just haven't moved on with the times. Games evolved and these days just keeping up with the trends isn't really enough, you need to be a few steps ahead of the game, and sadly Cliffy B for a long time now seemed like he was several steps behind. The guy is going to be ok, if anyone I feel bad for the people working in that studio that probably just wanted to keep making games and now they'll be out of a job.

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#11 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3664 posts) -

@mrplatitude: EPIC are near enough to the studio that's just shut down and are hiring hand over fist for a little game called Fortnite. As long as Cliffy B made it clear to the staff that Radical Heights was a silver bullet they needed and gave them opportune time to decide if they wanted to take that risk or go elsewhere - there's not much else he can do. If he failed to do that though, then that's incredibly shitty.

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#12 Posted by Slag (8108 posts) -

Making games is hard

Best of luck to all affected.

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#13 Posted by Colonel_Pockets (1303 posts) -

Damn, this sucks. Hope everyone is able to land on their feet.

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#14 Edited by BabyChooChoo (7071 posts) -

Can't say I'm even remotely surprised. I feel sorry for all the people looking for work now. I don't feel particularly sorry for Cliffy B and/or the rest of the management. I wouldn't call it hate as much I would disappointment.

Nether Lawbreakers nor Radical Heights were terrible, but they both felt like wildly inferior products in already crowded genres. Take Lawbreakers for instance. After Overwatch came out and set the world on fire, there's no excuse for Lawbreakers being as bland as it is. It does a few cool things, but it came out a year after a similar game that was at that point already one of the most recognizable, frequently quoted, and popular games ever. I obviously don't know what, if anything, was going on behind the scenes at Boss Key, but from an outsider's perspective, it just sorta feels like they weren't really aware of the climate/landscape they were stepping into.

Same thing with Radical Heights, Again, not a bad game at all imo, but the moment that trailer dropped, people were already screaming Fortnite clone because of the artstyle. Gameplay-wise, the two are very different beasts, but Radical Heights had already lost people before it could even get started. And then the game drops in early access, clearly in need of tons more dev time, begging the question of "why play this when I have Fortnite or even PUBG? two game that are essentially already finished with established fanbases and streamers and that are just getting more and more content added."

Hey, I don't run a company, so I'm just gonna assume the people in charge had good reasons, at least to them, for doing what they did. Again, just as an outsider looking in, it just seemed like two very bad choices one right after the other.

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#15 Posted by personandstuff (624 posts) -

That sucks. And Radical Heights seemed like it was doing okay. But maybe not good enough to maintain.

I remember Lawbreakers had a huge booth/line at E3. Everyone seemed so excited then nothing.

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#16 Posted by MrPlatitude (207 posts) -
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#17 Posted by CJduke (1021 posts) -

Wow I'm pretty sure they just held a streamer tournament for radical heights like a week ago. I guess that was last ditch effort.

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#18 Posted by vocalfry (0 posts) -

Hubris

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#19 Posted by someoneproud (278 posts) -

Figures. Hope they all managed to jump ship. Wonder what Cliffy's next "Billion Dollar IP" is gonna be...

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#20 Posted by TheHT (15670 posts) -

Good luck to em all.

Online
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#21 Posted by OurSin_360 (6080 posts) -

@vamino: the servers will stay up for tge near future, they may find a buyer for the ip to take over.

Hope everyone at the studio recovers and finds work before the economy crashes.

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#22 Posted by dudeglove (13537 posts) -

Guess they finally burned through enough money that even Cliff could see the writing on the wall.

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#23 Posted by TravisRex (819 posts) -

I see a lot of comfy armchairs in this thread. Would love to hear about projects or ambitions in general that you had, they must be doing great.

Sarcasm aside, good luck to the employees.

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#24 Posted by meteora3255 (673 posts) -

I was honestly surprised they lasted as long as they did. Once it became apparent LawBreakers was a bust this seemed inevitable. Wish the best for the employees, I'm sure Epic could use some devs with battle royale experience and maybe Cliff can put in a good word for them.

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#25 Edited by BoOzak (2400 posts) -

@shagge said:

It was no secret that Boss Key was in serious trouble, but still, that's a damn shame. Hope Dude Huge comes back with a hit again some day. Jill Of The Jungle VR, perhaps.

EDIT: Umm, this is weird... when I click on and refresh this thread, it redirects me here: https://www.giantbomb.com/call-of-duty-3/3030-19391/forums/meh-its-ok-4/. One time, it redirected me to an old locked thread about Mario. It only happens on this thread, from what I can tell. Can someone else try it and see what happens?

Edit 2: Seems okay now. What an odd glitch.

I refreshed it and got directed to the thread "How do you do finishing moves in the Pit 2?" weird glitch indeed.

I didnt mind Lawbreakers but it felt like a F2P game. But so does PUBG and Overwatch yet they did alright. It's easy to say that they (or Cliffy B) made some bad choices but other studios have blantantly stolen ideas and done well for themselves. I couldnt say why, as someone who doesnt really enjoy a lot of the latest crazes in gaming.

Personally I would have loved a new UT style game without wildy different characters with abilities and cooldowns. But I feel like i'm in the minority and that game also would have done poorly.

Avatar image for ketta
#26 Posted by Ketta (101 posts) -

@shagge: It took me to an SSX 3 page.

I tried Lawbreakers but was pretty bored with it. I feel that way about shooters in general though, honestly.

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#27 Edited by Onemanarmyy (3837 posts) -

Maaan those bikes though..

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#28 Posted by DanishingAct (393 posts) -

Time to join mega64 full time, and stop messing around with these cameos.

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#29 Edited by hnke (159 posts) -

Hope he has a good last few with his Aussie. Cherish the time you have with your pet because you can never know when they will leave you.

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#30 Posted by ajamafalous (13785 posts) -

I see a lot of comfy armchairs in this thread. Would love to hear about projects or ambitions in general that you had, they must be doing great.

This is such a weird ad hominem; it's like saying that someone has to play an instrument before they can criticize music or be a director before they can criticize a movie.

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#31 Posted by FlappyHands (3043 posts) -

That's sad. I hoped they would bounce back but I guess LawBreakers really did flop that hard.

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#32 Posted by TravisRex (819 posts) -
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#33 Posted by TheHT (15670 posts) -
Online
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#34 Posted by Hayt (1612 posts) -
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#35 Posted by ripelivejam (12913 posts) -

@travisrex: Agree there's a lot of judgement calls being made without all the information. We're just assuming CliffyB doesn't care about or look after his employees, or that he is a monster for not bleeding his and other's assets dry keeping this particular thing alive, or that this wasn't a difficult decision for him amd whatever upper management there is to make. I'm sure there's somewhat of a grey area where the truth lies, maybe, but let's not try to guess at specifics?

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#37 Posted by nickhead (1239 posts) -

I loved Lawbreakers and Radical Heights had some cool ideas. The lack of refunds for RH is gross but this sucks overall. I think this group had something it was just bad timing.

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#38 Edited by LikeaSsur (1608 posts) -

This is what happens when you just follow trends and don't really innovate on anything. I'm surprised CliffyB didn't try to create a MOBA about 10 years ago.

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#39 Edited by DoublePlusRad (32 posts) -

I still love CliffyB, I'm sad it didn't work out. He'll always be the guy that made UT & Gears to me, and I'll still want to see what he makes next. I hope everyone finds new gigs.

It kind of sucks they are killing radical heights like a month into early access, I thought it had some potential.

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#40 Posted by Namoo (110 posts) -

Well it looks like cliffy is a total piece of shit. Seems the Twitter post was the first the boss key employees knew of what was happening if Jon Lajoie's Twitter is to be believed.

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#41 Posted by WheresDerrick (326 posts) -

Real unfortunate to read. Lawbreakers always looked cool to me, it just needed more before I jumped it.

Pouring one out

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#42 Edited by BabyChooChoo (7071 posts) -

@namoo said:

Well it looks like cliffy is a total piece of shit. Seems the Twitter post was the first the boss key employees knew of what was happening if Jon Lajoie's Twitter is to be believed.

That would be totally fucked if true. The lack of outlets reporting this makes me doubt it's true because I feel like such a story would have blown up immediately, but we'll see what the next few days hold.

Looking back on it though, I wonder if there's a bigger story to the incident not too long ago when CliffyB accused Epic of poaching some of his staff. It was almost exactly a month ago, so maybe the remaining staff really didn't find out about the closure until very recently after all, but maybe some of them saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship to Epic? I could just be reading too much into though...

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#43 Posted by hippie_genocide (2364 posts) -

Lawbreakers seemed well made but the wrong game at the wrong time maybe? Radical Heights seemed like a "let's just put this thing out there and try to catch lightning in a bottle like Fortnite" thing. The reception was decent I think but not incredible. It's probably telling that while I don't have anything negative to say about what they put out, I wasn't compelled to, you know, actually play them either.

Avatar image for diz
#44 Posted by diz (1394 posts) -

@namoo said:

Well it looks like cliffy is a total piece of shit. Seems the Twitter post was the first the boss key employees knew of what was happening if Jon Lajoie's Twitter is to be believed.

Sorry, I got suspicious when you didn't provide any links.

I found out it's Ron Lajolie, not Jon...

And Ron said this:

That post indicates that it's his daughter's first time of hearing about this, not his. It would be rather odd if it were the Lead Producer who was surprised, when the team's investors Nexon had made it public knowledge what a hole Lawbreakers was in ($32,600,000).

I wonder how quickly your mind works to publicly insult someone (i.e. cliffy is a total piece of s***), based on your incorrect information that you also chose not to share to try qualifying your insult. Or is there something I'm missing?

Avatar image for dudeglove
#45 Posted by dudeglove (13537 posts) -

@travisrex: Agree there's a lot of judgement calls being made without all the information. We're just assuming CliffyB doesn't care about or look after his employees, or that he is a monster for not bleeding his and other's assets dry keeping this particular thing alive, or that this wasn't a difficult decision for him amd whatever upper management there is to make. I'm sure there's somewhat of a grey area where the truth lies, maybe, but let's not try to guess at specifics?

There was a (since deleted) tweet from a former BossKey designer that now works at Epic responding to Cliff's obnoxious tweet @ Epic asking them to stop "stealing our staff" regarding Fortnite, rightly pointing out respectfully to the effect that Uh Cliff, these staff of yours are people not property and you should respect people's decisions to move on to other jobs regardless of the circumstances which is extremely revealing because it's rare for former employees to call out bullshit from their ex-bosses not anonymously.

I personally think I've heard more than I need to about BossKey through both osmosis and occasionally seeing Cliff's tweets (spoiler, he tweets a fucking lot) to not be surprised that things eventually fell apart. As to the exact mechanics, it really doesn't matter - when the head of the company is answerable to no one, has more money than what he knows to do with and can't stop running his damn mouth but most importantly has no ideas other than to ape the competition, then that company is royally fucked. That people on the inside were rubbed the wrong way by Cliff's behavior externally, I can only conclude that he was far worse internally.

I know some people are upset that this debacle didn't drag on further, but frankly BossKey has been a failure since its inception. It started on the wrong foot (hopefully someone will write a book on this because it's partly about a somewhat interesting argument over the tech used at Epic), and it had an "attitude" that was way, way out of its time and place with the sense of some sort of "punk" (ha! set up by a millionaire? yeah, real punk) ideology behind it - but in opposition to what, exactly? Whomsoever had offended Cliff & co's design ethos? What sort of sense does that make when you're eventually making a pubg/fortnite clone? The only thing left to do then is shut everything down.

Fortunately it seems pretty much everyone in video games has seen this coming (no doubt there are some talented people at BK, leadership notwithstanding) and the outpouring of condolence tweets reads far more like none of it was a surprise and the writing was on the wall for months.

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#46 Posted by Naoiko (1662 posts) -

Man that is rough. I wish them all the best and hope they can all move onto bigger and better things even if its not in the video game industry.

Avatar image for damodar
#47 Posted by Damodar (2142 posts) -

@shagge said:

It was no secret that Boss Key was in serious trouble, but still, that's a damn shame. Hope Dude Huge comes back with a hit again some day. Jill Of The Jungle VR, perhaps.

EDIT: Umm, this is weird... when I click on and refresh this thread, it redirects me here: https://www.giantbomb.com/call-of-duty-3/3030-19391/forums/meh-its-ok-4/. One time, it redirected me to an old locked thread about Mario. It only happens on this thread, from what I can tell. Can someone else try it and see what happens?

Edit 2: Seems okay now. What an odd glitch.

Well I guess that gives some context for why I got a thread about Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog that had been inactive for 8 years!

Online
Avatar image for hermes
#48 Posted by hermes (2537 posts) -

Good for CliffyB to be able to take some time to "take some time off and reflect". I wish to all the other people affected that they are able to land on their feet.

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#49 Edited by OurSin_360 (6080 posts) -

Are there any developers with semi celeb status that arent hated? Seems like people are going out of their way online to make cliffy look horrible for simply making a tweet about his business failing. Jumping to conclusions about the mans character and how he treats employees? Maybe john Cormack is the only one without a giant hate base at least last i remembered.

Avatar image for brunothethird
#50 Posted by BrunoTheThird (736 posts) -

It's awful; who knows, that one true gem of a game that put them fully on the map as a studio could've been in the pipeline.

I expected this news after I saw Radical Heights, I must admit, just because it seemed like a desperate move to bolt an '80s vibe to the battle royale formula and throw it out there in the earliest of states to see if it stuck at all.

Wish them all the best.

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