Alas, poor Cliff Bleszinski, forced to give up on so many game ideas after the closure of Boss Key Productions. If you’re interested in Bleszinski’s various early concepts, he’s posted a few on Twitter: DragonFlies (a dragon-riding air combat game), DogWalkers (a VR mech shooter with multiple people playing different parts of a mech), and Donuts (described as “Mario Kart with animals on water in VR”). You can choose for yourself whether or not these games would have likely been successful, although the term “VR” is showing up there an awful lot; these are still the very early stages of concept design, so it’s impossible to know.
If only we hadn’t all collectively decided to play other games instead of LawBreakers and Radical Heights!
Meanwhile, CliffyB’s staff took to Twitter to discuss the way the studio’s closure was handled. Here’s lead producer Ron LaJoie.
Boss Key is closing down following the struggles of LawBreakers and Radical Heights, though the latter will apparently remain playable for now. Cliff Bleszinski broke the news on Twitter.
Beta testing for Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset expansion – as well as the free update 18 that’ll launch alongside it – began this week as the chapter rolled out to the PTS, with plenty of glimpses at new housing and wearables on the way. What else is new in MMORPG testing this week?
- Defiance 2050’s big PC closed beta is live for the weekend – though console players have been put off a little while longer.
- Old School RuneScape has begun testing its mobile client. That’s not very old school, but we’re not complaining.
- WoW’s Battle for Azeroth kicked off player testing of dark iron dwarves and mag’ghar orcs.
- Conan Exiles rolled out what’ll probably be its last major patch for testers before its official launch next month.
- Radical Heights’ early access teased female toons. In ’80s leotards.
- MapleStory 2 is plotting its western closed beta for next month.
Did we miss anything? Drop us a note in the comments, then check out our traditional list of all the bits and bobs currently
malingering trucking along in some form of testing.
Good news, Boss Key fans! After the studio pretty blatantly gave up on LawBreakers, it turned around and quickly launched its next project, a battle royale title dubbed Radical Heights. It sprang to life on Tuesday, and then it… sort of limped right after that. The numbers do look at least slightly better after the rest of the week, so hooray? Maybe?
Looking back, I started that paragraph with “good news.” I’m not sure why I did that.
Other beta news? Hey, sure.
Other beta titles? Oh, listed below, as we do. If you notice something jumped test phases without our noticing, do let us know down in the comments. We really appreciate it.
Video games have always been a remarkably insular field; that’s the nature of development. Someone produces Super Mario Bros, and a few years later Sonic the Hedgehog sounds like a really good idea for some reason. But then you have games like The Great Giana Sisters, games that don’t try to just copy parts of what made the inspiration good but just copy the whole thing with one or two changes.
For normal video games, this can work out decently; a game that just doesn’t get much traction still sells some copies, hopefully. Just because Croc wasn’t Spyro didn’t mean that no one bought the former. But for online games, these trend-chasing games are almost always dramatic failures that litter the landscape. Why is that? Well, there are pretty good reasons, and today seems like a good time to talk about that.
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.”
GamesIndustry.biz is reporting that Nexon America has undergoing a round of layoffs. The number of affected employees is currently unknown, though a source reportedly told the publication that it may be as many as 20% of the American branch, and Twitter suggests that some of the company’s most front-facing employees – community managers and brand marketers – were hit.
A South Korean Nexon representative says that the restructuring is an attempt to “streamline operations and reset the organisation to pursue a deeper focus on our most promising titles,” claiming that while there were indeed layoffs, “the numbers do not represent any significance to [Nexon’s] overall workforce.” The spokesperson also deflected assumptions that the layoffs are related to the collapse of LawBreakers.
Our sympathies go out to those losing jobs and coworkers this week.
This is, bar none, the column I hate doing most on a regular basis. None of the games I highlight in here is something that I actually like pointing to; they’re games that people like, games that may very well be someone’s absolute favorites, and yet they’re also games where the future looks difficult if not outright bad. A cloudy future is never a good thing, and this particular column does not make it all right.
But we’re still here in the early days of 2018, and that means it’s still the right time to look at the games we might not see around next year. For various reasons, these are the games that already look like they’re in trouble, instead of absolute face-shattering surprises like a couple of the shutdowns last year.
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.
We’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2018!
August was dominated by several competing stories that just wound throughout the whole month: The Secret World’s TV series venture as produced by Johnny Depp, the full reveal of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion, and Star Citizen’s multiple delays and demos.
We also saw launches for World of Warcraft’s Argus, Elder Scrolls Online’s Horns of the Reach, Lord of the Rings Online’s Mordor, ARK: Survival Evolved, LawBreakers, Fragmented, and Tree of Life. And if you squint, you can just see the first inklings that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was already taking off.
Read on for the whole list!
LawBreakers just isn’t giving up. In spite of an apparently slumped player population and the exit of one of its founders, the shooter is rolling out a holiday event – evidence of “continued support,” as Nexon puts it.
“Just in time for the holidays, Nexon America revealed that its continued support of the fast-paced, gravity-defying first-person shooter, LawBreakers, includes a festive holiday event through the month of December and into the new year. Players can celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year during the LawBreakers Sleigh the Holidays event which offers fans a limited time discount on the game, double experience (XP) points, and an update to the competitive ranked mode, Boss Leagues.”
The game will be on sale from today into early January on both Steam and the North American region for PS4.