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.

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

6 COMMENTS

  1. no cliff, your game was just shit, but you’re at least half right that attractive player characters are part of the formula. it’s my one complaint I have with star citizen (that isn’t crashing and dcing) absolutely ugly character creation. it’s also another reason why mass effect “my face hurts” Andromeda failed.
    heck to prove my point games with cash shop cosmetic items and skins survive almost purely off them or dead or alive 5 and 6 can get away with cosmetic dlc costing $1000.

    Jason while i can understand the similarity of the games it’s a bit late to be calling apex legends successful, when it’s already suffering from declining population.

  2. It was both.

    People want to pretend like the appearance of characters don’t matter to seem “refined” or whatever. Some games can bypass that without a doubt, but most people would rather have an attractive set of characters (This goes to males and females for the people sitting at the back of the class) and solid gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay of Lawbreakers is some garbage-garbage, but people need to be honest that the aesthetics also weren’t very appealing.

    Alright, some galaxy brains might say sexier characters mean the game will be shit. Sorry, that blade and soul still exist. Or World of Warcraft exists. Or Black Desert. Heck Monster Hunter is one of the most popular games on the planet right now. Or Kurtzpel despite its problem does have some okay gameplay(Wish the devs stop patching it to screw it up). Elsword is actually a good game. Dungeon Fighter Online is a good game. This is just counting games you can play with other people. I can keep going down the list.

    Sexiness and good gameplay aren’t things that need to be separate. They don’t dodge each other and at the end of the day. A game with beautiful characters and solid gameplay will outlive a game with ugly characters and good gameplay. That just how it works.

    Also, anyone using the comparison of Overwatch. None of the girls are ugly. All of them are attractive. (No the robot goat doesn’t count it is a robot. That like saying Bastion is attractive, he’s a robot) So it is an example of good gameplay and attractive characters. It defeats the point of attraction no mattering.

  3. No, it failed because his balance was garbage and his game was fairly average, it didn’t do anything to stand out from or improve the genres it was in

  4. Gaming is about game play if that game play is total crap its a total crap game. You can try all you want to prop up a total crap game but the end is nearer to exit if you do. let it die and move on to next the one.

  5. For me a rule of thumb is: the sexier the characters the less interesting the game.
    If your only selling point is sexy girl then you either have nothing better to show or you aren’t in the gaming business. (if you know what I mean (eyebrow wiggle))

  6. Or because it was unoriginal, clunky, and released in a market that was already saturated with more enjoyable similar games. But what do I know?

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