While we’re still anxiously awaiting his autobiography, Cliff Bleszinski took to Instagram to offer his views on why LawBreakers didn’t succeed. He shows surprising humility in accepting that it was his decisions that led to the game’s, and company’s, downfall, though his reasoning strikes me as a little hit-and-miss.
Bleszinski started his post by saying that he should have “Pivot[ed] HARD when the juggernaut of Overwatch was announced,” and on that point, I agree. Overwatch was seen as a more inclusive, semi-casual title than LawBreakers, which had a steeper learning curve and was geared more for hardcore players. There’s room for that sort of thing in gaming, but mostly in single-player titles, like Dark Souls. Getting your face kicked in over and over by a tough boos is one thing; getting it kicked in by “Xx_NoobSlaya_xX” is something else.
Bleszinski then claimed to have had an “epiphany” in realizing that he “pushed my own personal political beliefs in a world that was increasingly divided.” To wit, he said became too much of a “‘woke bro’ trying to push his hackey politics on us with gender neutral bathrooms” and that Boss Key Studios became known as “the studio with the CEO who refuses to make his female characters sexier.”
Maybe this is Bleszinski peeking once more at Overwatch, and some of its more sexually suggestive female characters, but I find it hard to believe that this is the reason the game failed. While it’s true that Lawbreakers’ characters tend more toward realism than the cartoon-ish cast of Overwatch, other games have had realistic-looking characters, including female characters in combat-appropriate armor, and done just fine. Take a look at the cast of Apex Legends, for instance, or of another successful title Bleszinski should be very familiar with, Gears of War.
While I can recall some criticism of how LawBreakers’ characters were handled — they didn’t seem to possess the personality or interesting backstories that Overwatch’s did, for instance — their sexuality, or lack thereof, never figured in as a factor in the game’s lack of success. Most of the criticism I heard was about the game itself and its overall difficulty level. That’s probably the primary lesson Cliffy B should take to heart if he wants to make another game with mass-market appeal.