Cliff Bleszinski, who made a name for himself as the creative director of the Gears of War series at Epic Games before leaving the company to start a new studio, has kicked off a public dispute with his former employer. Bleszinski is accusing Epic of poaching developers from his studio, Boss Key. Both are based in the Raleigh, NC area.
Tweeting today, Bleszinski asked Epic to stop its efforts to “hire away my team,” adding that he’s proud of Boss Key’s newly launched battle royale game, Radical Heights–which runs on Epic’s Unreal Engine 4. Bleszinski went on to suggest that Epic’s reported hiring of Boss Key developers is related to the fact that Radical Heights is a Battle Royale game, and is thus competing against Epic’s uber-popular Battle Royale game Fortnite.
“There’s room at this genre for more than a few games SMH,” Bleszinski said. In another tweet, the developer said Boss Key has “plenty” of ideas for how to make Radical Heights stand out in the Battle Royale genre, but if Epic keeps hiring away its talent, these may never come to light. “We have plenty of ways to make it our own but they may never see the light of day if they keep doing this,” he said.
It is unclear how many Boss Key developers left the studio to join Epic, but the figure is apparently substantial enough for Bleszinski to be airing his grievances in public. In December, Boss Key co-founder Arjan Brussee left the studio to re-join Epic. A former online engineer at Boss Key who has since joined Epic, William McCarroll, said on Twitter that Bleszinski is out of line for calling out Epic about hiring away some of its staffers.
“With all due respect, assuming that Epic is the one starting contact / poaching is a bit presumptuous,” he said. “We all had our own reasons for making the choice to leave BKP for Epic, and to act like we are commodities being stolen is a bit hurtful. We are people first and foremost.”
Epic declined to comment when approached by GameSpot.
Boss Key’s free Battle Royale game Radical Heights launched last week in “X-TREME EARLY ACCESS” on Steam–and it is currently lacking many important features. The studio has pledged to continue to update and improve the game over time.