There’s still plenty of stuff going on in the development of Radical Heights, and Cliff Bleszinski is showing it off on Twitter. What sort of stuff? Well… women, for one. Yes, playable ladies are on deck, and a preview image shows them in all of their shoulder-padded leg-warmed glory. Why there are shoulderpads on a workout outfit is a mystery for the ages.
The team is also working on allowing players to dive through windows, which looks very dramatic and would tend to result in a face full of glass if attempted in real life. There’s also a tip reminding players to take on the “Special Delivery” bike matches for powerful armor, so if you’re one of the players fighting it out in the game, take that under advisement. Also, please do not attempt to jump through any windows in real life. It’s going to hurt and you shouldn’t do it.
If Radical Heights is not a success, it’s the fault of Epic Games, according to Cliff Bleszinski. The head of Boss Key Studios recently tweeted out an accusation that Epic Games (creator of Fortnite and the Unreal engine, among other things) is trying to poach some of his staff, which comes a few months after the co-founder of Boss Key Studios left to join Epic on a heretofore unannounced project. He went on to state that there are still more things to be done in the battle royale genre, but they may remain unseen based on this employee poaching.
Epic has remained mum on the accusations of poaching employees, so it’s hard to be sure whether it’s actually happening or not. One might also want to look at the game’s numbers and its overall playerbase figures following its surprise reveal and early access launch and take that into account as part of this narrative, as well.
How radical is Radical Heights? That’s the question Massively OP’s MJ aims to answer as she pokes her head in this new game for the very first time. Could this blast of ’80s thug life make this battle royale “the one”? Can it convert MJ to the genre? Can she just not be the first to die? Find the answers by tuning in live at 8:00 p.m. as OPTV‘s infamous Stream Team brings you a first look at…
What: Radical Heights
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 14th, 2018
It’s important to note that Radical Heights has only just been sent out into the wild, and its surprise launch was less “highly anticipated” and more “utterly unexpected.” Comparisons after a day in the wild are going to be hard to make. Nevertheless, after a day in release, the title has managed to pass the all-time player high for Boss Key’s LawBreakers… barely. It’s within 1000 players of that game’s all-time player high, a number that you may recall was pretty weak for a title published by a major company and with lots of marketing behind it.
The game’s Steam page currently lists its reviews as “mixed,” with many players bemoaning its obviously early development state causing numerous bugs and performance issues. It’s apparently not even developed enough to allow playing as a female character, which seems like a pretty basic option to leave out of a release. That doesn’t mean that the game’s going to be unable to pull itself together and continue turning up in popularity, but looking at the day one numbers, this is something less than a good sign.
Last week, we wrote about the de facto maintenance-moding of LawBreakers, as Boss Key admitted the game wasn’t making money, not even enough to justify going free-to-play. At the time, the studio said that while it would support the game as it stood, it was also moving on to something new – a “passion project” that Boss Key is “in complete control of.” Do we detect some shade for Nexon there from the company whose boss told the press to fuck off? Surely not.
Anyway, when Boss Key said it was moving on, few people probably thought that meant “six days from now,” but that is indeed what’s happening. It’s announced a brand-new game – of course it’s a battle royale title – with an even more over-the-top thug-life style than LawBreakers had, and much more neon ’80s retro flavor and tawdry The Running Man-esque decadence. It’s called Radical Heights. Hey bro, let’s play some Rad. Brb, RadHi time. Hmm. Not sure. Then again, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue either.
Long after players had tried and moved on from the gravity-defying Lawbreakers, its studio has conceded defeat.
Boss Key Productions put out a statement today saying that the game was not able to draw and retain much of an audience, was generating no money, and was not worth the resources to switch it over to free-to-play. And while the studio said that it was moving on to other projects, it did hint that it was working on something to give Lawbreakers “the second life it deserves.”
“Between now and then, we cannot sit idle,” Boss Key said. “We will continue to support the game in its current state, but we also need to focus on other projects with fresh creative leaders. We have been working on something new and we can’t wait to share more about it! It’s a passion project that we’re in complete control of.”
A while back, you may recall that I posted some of my conversations with anthropomorphized concepts of MMO studios. If you don’t remember this, you will not be eligible for this year’s Remembering Championship, but considering the fact that said championship is mostly determined by who remembers to show up, odds of that were always low. It’s a memory championship, after all. You can’t judge that like, say, curling.
What were we talking about? Oh, right, MMO studios. Despite that single column, I have continued to have other conversations with various studios, most of which have gone about as well as the first batch. So if you’ve long awaited to know more about the concepts I speak with, your wishes have come true.
If you wish to know about my conversations with my neighbor, I cannot help you.
Here’s the good news for Nexon’s Q3 2017 investor call: The company had a good set of third-quarter results overall, and it has a strong lineup of titles in the pipeline, including the long-awaited and largely unrevealed Final Fantasy XI mobile incarnation. Here’s the bad news: LawBreakers was the weak link in its lineup. Not only was it responsible for the majority of the company’s losses during the quarter, but company CTO Shiro Uemura stated that the game would acquire no further losses, meaning that it had functionally been written off altogether.
What does that mean for the future of the game? Nothing positive; companies don’t tend to write off games they plan to continue supporting. Your speculation is welcome, but it should run toward darker possibilities. On the bright side, it looks like the future is bright for Nexon as a whole, so based on player numbers the fate of LawBreakers is not so much cloudy as it is unpleasant.
Also worth noting is that Nexon has merged its Nexon RED and NDOORs subsidiaries, both with a roster of successful games under their belts. The merge is aimed at providing more consolidated and skilled mobile game development.
The face of LawBreakers development and Boss Key is arguably Cliff Bleszinski, but Arjan Brussee was co-founder of the studio and half of the brain trust behind the studio as a whole. We use the past-tense there, though, because according to Twitter Brussee is no longer with the studio. He’s announced that he has left and is heading back to Epic Games to work on a “secret project,” with no word on what that might entail.
Of course, that’s what makes it a secret, but you know how it is.
Bleszinski himself has wished Brussee the best of luck on Twitter without any acrimonious undertones. There’s no announcement at this point about who will take over Brussee’s duties at Boss Key. It’s not an entirely unusual move after a studio’s first major release has shipped for people to move on to different careers; we’ll see what this means in the longer term for Boss Key (if anything) in the months to come.
So, how’s life on the good ship LawBreakers? About the same as it was before, although we do now have an eagle-eyed shot of the game’s Steam charts actually registering a flat zero players. Not that its seven-day high is exactly much better.
Here’s the good news for the game: It has a free weekend this weekend, along with a half-price sale running through the end of Tuesday next week. So you can try out the game for yourself and see if it sticks with you; considering the most recent negative reviews on the game have largely concerned the lack of players, it certainly can’t hurt matters.
For those of you who have been following this for a while, you may remember that Cliff Bleszinski’s most recent interview placed the blame on the game’s current state on media outlets and insisted that his team recognizes that the game’s life cycle is a marathon, rather than a sprint. We’ll see if this puts a bit more momentum in the game’s step.
Here at Massively Overpowered, we generally try to avoid cursing, but there really are no two ways to put the Cliff Bleszinski quote from his latest interview on LawBreakers’ post-launch struggles. Let’s provide the whole thing, for context:
[The gaming press is] just looking for clicks, man. They’re just looking for ad revenue. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, and they’re welcome to print whatever they want – but as far as I’m concerned, they can fuck off. We’re going to keep making our game for our fans.
Bleszinski stresses that the game’s struggle is simply to get its concurrent user counts high enough to make matchmaking reliably and enjoyable, with repeated statements that the studio is focused on building the community over time and engaging with them. He also claims that any perception problems are a result of people being overly negative, citing the game’s high number of positive reviews on Steam.
The latest update to LawBreakers is coming out on October 19th, and it uses the phrase “All-Star” a bit too often for anyone who has been on the internet over the past few years. But it also has a brand-new linear tutorial for players fresh to the game, so you can jump in and get a better idea of how to actually play the game. That is definitely a good thing for bolstering the game’s playerbase, but even if you’re one of the game’s existing ten fans, you’ll have reasons to enjoy the next update.
The patch brings in the ranked competitive Boss League, albeit in a “season zero” setting to test the system in actual play. There’s also a new Blitzball-themed map, a new variant on the Redfalls map, and lots of new customization items for players to unlock as rewards. Spectator mode has gotten better, cross-region queueing is enabled… you can watch a video showing off all of the new features just below, so don’t shy away if the game still has your interest.
When one looks at a gravity-challenged game like Lawbreakers, one cannot help but wonder when the devs will add an update where your characters will have to fight a “nausea” meter while spinning and flipping through the air like some demented carnival ride.
No nausea meter yet, but the team did put out a small post-launch patch last week that adjusted downward (read: nerfed) some abilities that turned out to be a wee bit overpowered. These include the Harrier’s Convergence skill and the Wraith’s Wasp Sting. Gunslingers also felt the nerf bat pretty hard, but they did get a new mechanic that grants them a warp charge for every omega headshot. We assume that if you play the game, you’ll understand the words in the previous sentence.
Lawbreakers has been struggling with low numbers and rankings ever since the shooter’s launch several weeks ago. Boss Key CEO Cliff Bleszinski recently said that streaming the game during testing hurt its prospects.