Radical Heights Dev Boss Key Shuts Down One Month After New Game's Release

Radical Heights will remain playable for now, but Boss Key is done.

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Now Playing: Radical Heights Dev Boss Key Shuts Down Shortly After Game's Launch - GS News Update

Boss Key Productions has announced it's shutting down. The developer responsible for LawBreakers and, more recently, Radical Heights, will cease operations, co-founder Cliff Bleszinski has announced. However, this won't mark an immediate end for its new battle royale game.

"As of today, Boss Key Productions is effectively no more," Bleszinski wrote in a message shared on Twitter. "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. 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."

Bleszinski announced the formation of Boss Key in 2014, and LawBreakers--an arena shooter in the mold of Unreal Tournament or Quake 3 Arena--was later revealed as its debut title. Upon its release last summer, the game failed to attract many players, forcing Boss Key to scramble to regroup. A shift to a free-to-play model was discussed, although more recently the studio announced it would move the bulk of its efforts to a new game, Radical Heights, which attempted to capitalize on the tremendous success of Fortnite and PUBG.

The message recounts some of this, saying LawBreakers "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."

Radical Heights will apparently continue to operate for the time being, as the message says that servers "will remain up for the near future." A more specific time table for its shutdown was not outlined. At the time of this writing, the free-to-play game's Founder's Pack remains available for sale on Steam. [Update: The Founder's Pack has now been removed.]

While thanking fans for their support, Bleszinski left his future in question. "As for myself, I'm going to take some time off and reflect. I need to focus on myself and family as well as my Aussie, Teddy, who is slowly fading from us. Video games 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."

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Avatar image for Shadowscreem
Shadowscreem

If you operate a studio that can't even run for 1 month post game launch...you're a stupid businessman. Oh wait...this is CliffyB we're talking about.

Avatar image for tombrown788
tombrown788

You'd think with all the animosity slung throughout some of these comments that some of you worked for this guy and he f*cked your wives. When I see comments go into borderline (if not downright) personal attacks on the man, I question the very veracity of the commentor spewing the hate especially if the only degree of connectivity they have to him is *only* playing a game he developed. Dude hit a homerun with GOW, then took another swing & struck out, which is more than most criticizing the man could ever lay claim. Criticize the work, sure, but there is no real need for personal attacks towards someone you do not know. At the end of the day, we're all entitled to our own opinion however the most honorable among us know when to let the defeated walk home with their weapons & dignity.

Avatar image for twztid13
twztid13

@tombrown788: well said.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Survival of the Fittest. A company churning out tired retreads of other games was not the fittest.

Avatar image for StonerDemon
StonerDemon

It seems they forgot they had originally set out to be a "world class studio with some of the best talent in the industry". Instead, they decided to be a "me too" studio. And there's the consequences.

Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

The problem with these type of games is the longevity of the program and the inability to run even after the lights go out. If the game was free to download the customer loses really nothing but if money was paid to acquire the game then the customer loses the ability to play or get their money worth out of the game if it does shut down eventually and also looking at timing it does not look good. It is an gamble one takes and must accept looking at games like this and past problems with them.

Avatar image for twztid13
twztid13

@lonewolf1044: the article said radical heights was free to play (which includes free to download). Titles that charge to download the initial game are not considered part of the free to play genre. They usually sell microtransactions to recoup funds & make profits. Lawbreakers is a different story, as people did buy it before it went free to play, but I'm sure those people have already come to terms with that since it was a while back.

Avatar image for kachal
kachal

Imagine Cliff persuading his veteran colleagues at Epic to join him on his little adventure at Boss Key and then after first bump in the road, he calls off the adventure. And now his team that had left a giant company for Cliff, are unemployed and most likely will remain unemployed for the foreseeable future. He didn't have the spirit of leadership and he ruined the lives of his team alongside with him. Never leave big companies to join people without determination.

Avatar image for Shadowscreem
Shadowscreem

@kachal: and within 1 month, on top of it all. What kind of business is so poorly managed that it can't operate for more than a month after a launch of their product?

Avatar image for uncle5555
uncle5555

@kachal: Except if I remember correctly, Cliffy B just recently accused Epic of stealing back that same talent you mentioned. So when he's left with a hollow shell of the talent pool he stole away to begin with, where was there left to go?

I don't care either, way the world of gaming can use a break from Mr. Bleszinski (at least I know I sure can). If he wants to come back and show he's still got it, then show it with an awesome project, not with preening and attitude.

Avatar image for cappy
Cappy

When I heard about Radical Heights I knew nothing of the back story, so I was turned off by the “cash grab” feel. But when I read they were the one’s who did Lawbreakers, which sounded like a really solid game doomed by bad timing, and were just struggling for a last ditch effort to stay afloat, I was impressed by the quick, scrappy pivot.

Avatar image for Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

Couldn't even manage to replicate the mobile market's 'talent' for cloning what's popular fast and grabbing a slice while the going's good before moving on. Lawbreakers was solid, but missed it's moment and Radical Heights was a cynical money grab rushed into a space that already had two giants duking it out. Sorry Cliffy, but your business model was never going to work for you.

Avatar image for boxedout
boxedout

I haven't followed Boss Key Productions until recently, when I discovered Radical Heights but it seems like they were doing their own thing when they released Lawbreakers but not enough people bought the game. The company may have been in financial trouble at that point so they decided to make a battle royale game to attract more gamers.

While it's true that there are quite a few BR games, only 2 are very popular; Fortnite & PubG. I don't think they were too late to enter this genre as there will be plenty more BR games coming out later this year. I think Radical Heights was innovative enough and good enough to succeed if the developers had more time to finish the graphics and add a few more weapons & features.

The game show angle is interesting and the faster paced, somewhat arcade style game-play made is an interesting alternative to PubG.

Avatar image for Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@boxedout: The one thing Boss Key weren't doing was 'their own thing'. They were jumping on bandwagons and jumping off them when they didn't catch a slice of that bandwagons market (in the case of Lawbreakers). Radical Heights was an even more cynical attempt at the same thing, knocked up in 4 months and pretty much doomed to fail. Also, clearly, a last ditch attempt to stay afloat.

Avatar image for fuchikoma
fuchikoma

@boxedout: Financially they were backed by Nexon- a large Korean free to play publisher.... but yeah most likely that backing was terminated when Lawbreakers failed to find an audience.

Avatar image for kaminobenimizu
KamiNoBeniMizu

"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. 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."

Create a world class video game studio!? Hired some of the best talents in the video game industry!? Quality products!?

What kind of weed/crack/power did he smoke to write all of this!?

LB was fine, but Radical Heights was a rushed early access messfest to try to get people from PUBG and Fortnite in the most painfully sad way possible.

There was only ONE up, the rest was ALL down! LB was supposed to be a F2P under Nexon, then BK decided to make it P2P; didn't help.

Bad mouthed a few gamers; didn't help.

Copied BR genre in its simplest form far too soon instead of letting it "rest", leading to "saturation" as a result; didn't help.

If he hired talented people, he sure wasted their potential. I hope once/if he returns, he'll do a good job this time. Because it was just THAT bad.

Avatar image for Dizzy1976
Dizzy1976

Boss Key spent too much time trying to cash in on the current hyped genre that they were always late to the game and never gained a huge amount of traction against the already well established games. They would have been better off trying to do their own thing. Too many companies trying to do that same stuff with little tweaks. You wanna grab a big chunk of players do something different. Getting tired of the entire spin-off / reboot mentality.

Avatar image for redviperofdorne
redviperofdorne

He just needs to go away for a bit. I don't hate the guy but he's embarrassing himself at this point.

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

So multiplayer only games are risky too it seems. Worst thing is the big ones are confortable in their thrones doing practically the same, only innovating in new ways to leech us dry.

Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

@santinegrete: Exactly, it is an risk and only a few can weather the storm. I do not dislike MP only but I am very cautious on who I buy it from and I do not buy many of them. If the game was free to play no sweat as long as I do not buy in game purchases.

Avatar image for Xero_Kaiser
Xero_Kaiser

Oh hey. Someone who acknowledges that LawBreakers had way more in common with UT or Quake than OverWatch.

I'm shocked.

Avatar image for dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

@Xero_Kaiser: That leads into the problem with that game (or at least one of them). Cliffy believed the loud outcry that people wanted to go back to an arena style shooter, only to find out while very loud and vocal they were ultimately a small minority that didn't support the game.

Then the switching from FTP game they announced to a paid model didn't help them either.

Avatar image for Xero_Kaiser
Xero_Kaiser

@dlCHIEF58: Yeah, hopefully Quake Champions and the new UT find an audience. Although, you don't really hear much about either of those games. Whenever I check, I just see a handful of monstrously good players absolutely bodyslamming everyone in the room. Maybe the huge skillgap in those games is just too much for a lot of people.

Avatar image for john_matrix_007
John_Matrix_007

It's Deadzo, Jim.

Avatar image for NBK87MX
NBK87MX

I wish the remaining employees, who had worked there, the very best in their job future,

and it would be great if Cliff rejoins Microsoft and Rod Fergusson's team and help them work

with the Gears of War franchise. It would be an excellent addition and worthwhile to their team.

What do you guys think?

Avatar image for BeefoTheBold
BeefoTheBold

@NBK87MX:

I think I'd rather him and his ideas on microtransactions along with his defenses of EA gone for good.

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-03-01-amid-growing-anger-at-micro-transactions-cliffyb-calls-on-gamers-to-vote-with-their-wallets

Given Microsoft's flirtations with a lot of anti-consumer policies at the beginning of this generation with the initial rollout of the Xbox One I would not consider adding Cliffy a good look for them.

Avatar image for tombrown788
tombrown788

@BeefoTheBold:

I read the article you linked and even though I am just as a staunch critic of EA's philosophy towards MTX, I don't see how Cliff Blezinski is incorrect in his assessment about the "industry" is first a business in the eyes of most studios. Perhaps he was crass in his delivery knocking gamers for speaking up (which was stupid on his part) but outside of that much of what he stated was indeed fact and you'd be hard pressed to counter his claims outside his vocal 'support' towards EA. He says, that if gamers want to 'speak up' against MTX then "Vote with your wallets..." which is very true - that's where our *real* POWER is versus these studios/publishers who don't mind tuning us out while they count their money while we meme the sh*t out of them. So, when you say, "I think I'd rather him and his ideas on microtransactions...gone for good." I question just what in the heck YOUR particular solution is towards predatory MTX if *not* hitting publishers where it hurts most: their wallets (Read: Star Wars Battlefront II)???

Avatar image for NBK87MX
NBK87MX

@BeefoTheBold: Oh okay. I understand what you mean. I guess Microsoft wouldn't want to suffer another financially, expensive backlash again.

Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

@NBK87MX: I agree maybe it was not in the cards for him to make his own game and probably would be better to help developing games if he was really good at that. Sometimes the other side may have a lot of weeds and with the congestion of MP games you must make your game the best of the best and must be willing to put in an lot of work. Go half stepping and you get back any less.

Avatar image for NBK87MX
NBK87MX

@lonewolf1044: Yeah, I definitely agree with you.

Avatar image for Pyrosa
Pyrosa

@NBK87MX: Perfectly stated. Even if the product designs were debatably misguided, there were some amazing assets and a nice engine in Lawbreakers. Folks should be proud to have those bits on their resumes.

And yes -- Cliffy could do worse than returning to his roots, focusing on the little pictures and not the big picture. Those smaller gaming moments, and his proven track record for making them intense, are often what makes the game. He just doesn't seem to quite have a grasp on where the big picture needs to go right now... Which is fine. "A man's got to know his limitations."

Avatar image for NBK87MX
NBK87MX

@Pyrosa:Yes, I definitely agree with you. I had read an article a few weeks ago where Epic was taking Cliffy's employees, and Cliffy had to post an official message to them, which became public about this. I hope he can find something that he still has passion for and just maybe join the Gears of War team. His enthusiasm for the Gears of War franchise is felt by several gamers who love the franchise and FPS games. What do you think?

Avatar image for CRUSHER88
CRUSHER88

Unfortunate news. Lawbreakers was an enjoyable game that just didn't work out. Hopefully everyone is able to quickly find a new job.

Avatar image for darkrat
darkrat

@CallMeDuraSouka:

yep cant stand him!

Avatar image for fox_fury
fox_fury

Good thing Epic ""stole"" your employees so they will have a job now that your studio is no more eh Cliffy? ;)

Avatar image for RossRichard
RossRichard

I called this 4 years ago. CliffyB spent years talking shit about gamers when we were speaking out against DLC, microtransactions and bad business practices of publishers and then expects us to buy his new companies shitty games?

Avatar image for snugglebear
snugglebear

Aw no! Now whos going to be completely derivative and bland?!

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@snugglebear: Activision, EA, Ubisoft, etc.

Avatar image for Pyrosa
Pyrosa

@snugglebear: Ooh -- ooh! Me! [raising hand vigorously]

Avatar image for snugglebear
snugglebear

@Pyrosa: "How about a match-three puzzle game, but every time you match three it yells X-TREME?! I made a gears of war once....."

Avatar image for BassMan
BassMan

Doesn't surprise me. The games they were making were not very appealing.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800
gamingdevil800

Saw this coming from a mile away instead of trying to innovate with their own ideas they were copying games/ideas that were already really popular. Lawbreakers should of been a valuable lesson for them... If Radical Heights had been something that was far greater graphically and game play wise in the battle royale genre then it would of been a different story but the game was more of the same...

Avatar image for dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

@gamingdevil800: Except Lawbreakers was NOT copying current popular ideas, he listened to a loud, vocal minority that wanted a basic arena style game similar to Halo CE, Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament..only to find out that it actually was a minority asking for and willing to pay for that style of game.