Note: [All opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of GamerXChange]
Cliff Bleszinski is one of the gaming industries more outspoken people, he isn’t really shy about speaking his opinion and it doesn’t matter if its something you agree with or not. A lot of people have strong feelings about him because of those opinions, he’s been very outspoken for his preference of Microsoft and the Xbox 360 this generation, while he’s had no problem putting down the PlayStation 3 for its controller and has even gone on rants about the PlayStation Move and how he doesn’t like it at all. More recently he went on the record saying that he felt like Uncharted 3 was one of the more disappointing titles this generation. So obviously there is no love lost if you’re in the PS3 camp, love him or hate him though, most people bought an Xbox 360 when they saw Gears Of War running on it for the first time, and many PS3 only owners admit that Gears Of War is one franchise that they’d love the chance to play. No doubt Cliff Bleszinski is an icon and his departure from Epic Games will have some impact, but how much of an impact?
Whenever you are open with what’s on your mind you end up with people who dislike you, so when news broke that Cliff Bleszinski was leaving Epic Games, there were a slew of conspiracy theorists that were trying to decode a deeper meaning into why he was leaving. I heard everything from him being fired, to him quitting because he was sick of working on Gears Of War titles, both of which are obviously false. The true answer to why he left was in his own words, he has been working at Epic Games for over twenty years and being recently married, he felt like it was a time to take a break from the industry as a whole.
Now that Cliff has left Epic Games, people are wondering what will happen to the game franchises he helped craft and create. My initial thought was that things will carry on pretty status quo, and it’s not because Cliff wasn’t a big part of Epic Games or franchises like Gears Of War, it’s just that development teams are just that, a team. It’s never just one person, especially when you are talking about a company as large as Epic Games. Long term I’d say that Cliff will probably be missed for his creativity, and even though he wasn’t the actual head of Epic Games, he was obviously the most known and outspoken person there. Gears Of War Judgment was being handled by People Can Fly, the development team behind Bulletstorm, so Gears is in solid hands. The game that Cliff was really hyped for was Fortnite, so it does seem a little odd that he leaves before the game is finished and before we even know that much about it. I’d say there could be an impact there, but as a whole I’d bet things are pretty much the same at the Epic offices and its business as usual.
The big difference will be the lack of social media that Cliff Bleszinski was so great at, good or bad, no matter if you agreed with what he said or disagreed, he always was in the spotlight, even calling himself the Tony Stark of video games. Cliff was great at interacting with his fans and haters alike, he would often do “drive by’s” at midnight launches of other games and drop off Gears Of War swag to people. I remember him going to the Black Ops midnight release and handing out Gears stuff, he did the same thing for the Halo Reach launch. I’m not sure Epic Games has the outspoken person who can take Cliffs place in the public eye. I’m sure being in the public eye took a toll on Cliff as well, he grew to hate the “CliffY B” persona and even disliked the fact that everyone used pictures of him that were really old, the ones where he’s holding the Gears Of War lancer. He let it be known on his personal Twitter account that he hadn’t taken a picture holding a lancer in a long time, and he wished people would stop using those old pictures.
The way the industry keeps moving, people are going to leave one place and go another, it’s the nature of the business. Epic Games will be fine, there games will be fine, the only thing they will need going forward is a free-thinker who is creative. Epic Games will need to find someone to create new games and new IP’s that are as brilliant as the ones Cliff came up with. As for Cliff Bleszinski himself, your guess is as good as mine as to what his next move will be. I think he’ll end up opening his own studio some point down the line, there is also an outside chance that he’ll end up working for Microsoft at some point. He has a close relationship with everyone from Microsoft and they certainly have the money to land someone like Cliff. Hopefully he takes some time off to stop and smell the roses, enjoy himself and he can come back to the industry rested and refreshed and full of great new ideas and games.