Radical Heights creator Cliff Bleszinski has accused Epic Games, his former studio, of poaching his staff. Bleszinski, who worked on Unreal Tournament and Gears of War while at Epic, sent out a Tweet last Friday asking the studio to “stop trying to hire away my team.”
Bleszinski continued, “We just launched Radical Heights on [Unreal Engine 4] and are really happy with how it’s going.”
Bleszinski parted ways with Epic Games in 2012, just a few months after the studio announced the battle royale phenomenon Fortnite, and went on to found Boss Key Productions. His new studio’s first project was the online multiplayer shooter LawBreakers, which failed to gain an audience – something Bleszinski blamed the success of PUBG for.
Ironically, Boss Key’s new project is Radical Heights, a battle royale game in the style of PUBG and Fortnite. The game, which is described as “a passion project” for Boss Key, is now in very early access on Steam.
Bleszinski explained on Twitter that the studio has some unique ideas for how to make Radical Heights stand out among the competition, but that Epic is trying to stifle that by poaching his staff.
“There’s room at this genre for more than a few games,” said Bleszkinski. “We have plenty of ways to make it our own but they may never see the light of day if they keep doing this.”
Boss Key co-founder Arjan Brussee recently left for Epic to work on Fortnite mobile. Just last month, another member of the Boss Key team, William McCarroll, joined Epic. McCarroll replied to Bleszinski’s tweets, saying that Epic wasn’t necessarily reaching out to the Boss Key staff but that Bleszinski’s employees were moving on.
“With all due respect, assuming that Epic is the one starting contact/poaching is a bit presumptuous,” said McCarroll. “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.”
It remains to be seen whether Radical Heights will be able to compete with Fortnite or PUBG in a genre that seems to be ruled by two games with little room for a third. Other battle royale games, such as H1Z1 and The Culling, haven’t really made dents in Fortnite or PUBG‘s audiences.
There’s still a lot of work to be done on Radical Heights, which was released to Steam early access only five months into development. What we’ve seen so far looks promising but far from finished. We’ll just have to wait and see if Bleszinski and his team can pull the upset.