Why Cliff Bleszinski Teamed Up With Nexon For His New Game


Earlier in the week, former Jazz Jackrabbit and Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski revealed that his next game will be developed in partnership with online gaming giant Nexon. Bleszinski and his new studio, Boss Key Productions, are working on a free-to-play arena shooter, codenamed Blue Streak, which Nexon will publish for PC.


In an AMA on Reddit, Bleszinski related the tale of how he came to work with Nexon after he parted ways with Epic Games. Here’s his quote in full:


I know so many folks at EA, Ubi, MS, etc… After I left Epic I felt like the belle of the ball, EVERYONE wanted to meet with me when to be honest I just needed time off. But I have a very good agent who did the deal with Nexon, and he was eager, so after stalling him as long as I could (and knowing I’d want to come back eventually) I met with nearly all of the old guard. Even Zynga. (Mark Pincus came into my meeting 45 minutes late.)


Knowing developers who’ve worked with the traditional publishers I’d take them out, feed them a beer, and they’d do the “look around to see if anyone’s going to hear this” look and tell me “Run away. These guys aren’t the best to work with, and they’ll try to design your game and just get involved where they shouldn’t be.”


With nearly EVERY one of the established big publishers I heard this from MANY developers. And no, I can’t name names.


When Nexon came calling I laughed. “The fucking Maple Story guys?!”


And then I met Min Kim, president of Nexon US. And then Owen Mahoney, who runs all of Nexon. And I saw the direction they were going – Brian Reynold’s new game, Robotaki’s one, Splash Damage etc… and I spoke with all of these western devs who are working with them.


They all had glowing things to say about working with Nexon. 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.


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


Bleszinski also addressed the fact that Blue Streak will be a free-to-play game, and mentioned that this was another reason Boss Key Productions decided to partner with Nexon. As of now, the designer said, it’s too early to tell what kind of micro-transactions will be present in Blue Streak.


“I’ve never shipped a Free to Play game before,” Bleszinski said in response to the user that asked about micro-transactions. “That’s one of the MANY reasons why we’re going with Nexon, they can provide server structures and a global peek into gamers of all types and guide us into a game that’s more ‘Shut up and take my money’ as opposed to ‘shaking you down for your hard earned cash.’”


“So we’ll experiment, tweak, tune, and most importantly, build a positive community around the game as we develop it.”


“I’m DETERMINED to not do Pay To Win,” Bleszinski said in another comment. “Since this game is a shooter I want that one player who likes the game and doesn’t feel like spending any money to be able to take down the trust fund kid that’s spent a ton of money to have All The Stuff.”


Blue Streak appears to be very early in development at the moment. Bleszinski revealed that Boss Key Productions just got office space and furniture, and that he’s still building his team. What engine will be used for the game hasn’t been decided either, he noted, although he did confirm that Unreal 4 is being considered.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.