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Cliff Bleszinski met with Zynga and traditional publishers — here’s why he’s partnering with Nexon

Above: Cliff Bleszinski will take his first shot at running his own development studio.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Cliff Bleszinski says he felt like the “belle of the ball.”

When legendary Gears of War designer Bleszinski decided to come out of retirement, he says that he met with everyone he could. He was starting his own studio, Boss Key Productions, but he wanted to keep things small on his end. In a question-and-answer session on the community-run website Reddit, Bleszinski said he won’t tolerate “politics” at his new company. That meant his studio, Boss Key Productions, won’t hire “people to watch people to watch people,” as he puts it. That’s why he wanted publishing support from a bigger company, so he talked with Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Microsoft. In the end, he revealed that his free-to-play sci-fi shooter Blue Streak will end with the worldwide free-to-play experts at Nexon.

“I met up with nearly all of the old guard,” Bleszinski wrote on Reddit. “Even Zynga — [founder] Mark Pincus came into my meeting 45 minutes late.”

But the Boss Key chief executive says he wasn’t interested in what publishers and people like Pincus had to say. He wanted to hear what the developers who worked with them were saying.

“Knowing developers who’ve worked with the traditional publishers, I’d take them out, feed them beer, and they’d [look around to make sure no one was listening before telling me to] ‘Run away,’” wrote Bleszinski.

He says that the developers he spoke to complained about interference from the big companies. He says he heard similar grumbling from multiple sources about every well-known publisher.

“When Nexon came calling, I laughed,” wrote Bleszinski. “‘The fucking Maple Story guys?!’ And then I met Min Kim, president of Nexon U.S. And then Owen Mahoney, who runs all of Nexon. And I saw the direction they were going.”

Bleszinski referenced Nexon’s current work with Western developers like Robotoki (Human Element), Splash Damage (Dirty Bomb), and Brian Reynolds (Civilization II).

“They all had glowing things to say about working with Nexon,” wrote Bleszinski. “They said they just let you build the game you want to build and when the time comes to see if you can monetize they’ll help. When your developer friends vouch for a publishing partner like that, you trust them.”

The new CEO also noted that he has never released a free-to-play game before, and Nexon has a lot of success with that business model. When he has questions, he says Nexon will have the answers.

Bleszinski did point out that his deal with Nexon isn’t exactly perfect.

“It was a bit awkward meeting Min Kim,” wrote Bleszinski. “considering that the one Asian character we had in Gears was named that and died in the first hour.”

More about the companies and people from this article:

Established in 1991, Epic Games, Inc. develops cutting-edge games and cross-platform game engine technology. The company is responsible for the bestselling “Unreal” series of games, the blockbuster “Gears of War” franchise and ... read more »

That's what Nexon is all about. A pioneer in the world of interactive entertainment software, we introduced the world to the first graphic MMORPG, The Kingdom of the Winds, back in 1995. Since then, we've become the industry leader in ... read more »

Clifford Michael "Blitzball" Bleszinski (born February 12, 1975) is a video game designer, and former design director for the game development company Epic Games. He is most famous for his role in the development of the Unreal franchis... read more »

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1 comments
greg innes
greg innes

All I can say is that his first game better be good for all the bravado he is mustering.  Fortnite didn't sound too good on paper, and didn't sound at all original.

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