One of the people primarily responsible for bringing on an era of third-person cover shooters in triple-A gaming is going indie and free-to-play.
Cliff Bleszinski revealed today that his new studio, Boss Key, is making a sci-fi arena shooter for the PC called Blue Streak. His team is partnering with global publishing company Nexon on the project. The company isn’t sharing any other details on Blue Streak at this time, but Bleszinski did promise to reveal gameplay footage in the near future.
This is the first project from Bleszinski since he left his position with Gears of War developer Epic Games. When he exited that company, he told fans that he was retiring. Over the last few days, he revealed that he is coming out of retirement to start Boss Key Productions in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Prior to directing the Gears of War games, Bleszinski worked on Epic’s Unreal franchise.
With his experience in the shooter genre, it’s no surprise that he is returning to that familiar ground for Blue Streak. What isn’t familiar is the business model, which is likely why Boss Key is teaming up with Nexon. That publisher is responsible for popular free-to-play PC releases like MapleStory, Vindictus, and Dungeon Fighter Online. MapleStory is the biggest game that it owns and operates, but it also works with Valve to run the multiplayer online arena battler Dota 2 in Asian territories. That game makes millions of dollars annually.
By partnering with Nexon, Boss Key is also signaling that Blue Streak may aim for a global audience. That doesn’t just mean the standard markets for triple-A games like North America, Europe, and Japan — but it also includes up-and-coming regions like Brazil, India, Russia, and China. All of those BRIC nations are quickly adopting free-to-play PC games over traditional console or paid experiences.
The top free-to-play PC game last year was the Chinese online shooter Crossfire, which generated nearly $1 billion in revenue. League of Legends was second with around $625 million. While Boss Key will face a tough struggle to reach that level of success, it is possible, and it is likely easier now than ever before as more of the global gaming audience turn to PC for free-to-play experiences.