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LawBreakers’ creative director and former Boss Key Productions head Cliff Bleszinski shared some thoughts this week on why his FPS failed. Bleszinski believes that rather than its failure being the result of its bland presentation or its barely-there marketing, it was instead because of him including too many gender-neutral toilets and too few sexy fictional women.
“One big epiphany I had was that I pushed my own personal political beliefs in a world that was increasingly divided,” the Artist Formerly Known as Dude Huge wrote in an Instagram post. “Instead of the story being ‘this game looks neat’ it became ‘this is the game with the ‘woke bro’ trying to push his hackey politics on us with gender neutral bathrooms.’”
Bleszinski went on to say that he was the CEO who “refused to make his female characters sexier,” and who “shoehorns diversity in his game and then smells his own smug farts in interviews.”
It’s a ludicrous take. There are plenty of reasons why LawBreakers failed — it was a multiplayer shooter vying for a crowd already enamored with Overwatch, with a testing period that saw its open beta draw 40% fewer players than its closed beta. The market wasn’t exactly asking for a LawBreakers, and its marketing didn’t do a great job of convincing people otherwise. Many flat-out didn’t know that the FPS had even released, exemplified by its inability to break Steam’s top 100 most played list at launch. It also launched during a time when PUBG was exploding in popularity, which publisher Nexon itself blamed for the game’s lack of success, noting that it had released when the “market environment [was] very tough for first-person shooters.”
Politics was the least of LawBreakers‘ problems
Bleszinki is essentially saying that he got woke, but then he went broke; that the myriad of bad decisions that led to LawBreakers‘ underperformance paled in comparison to him being a divisive personality on Twitter. That him putting gender-neutral bathrooms in LawBreakers in retaliation to North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” was somehow a larger nail in the coffin than few knowing his game had even launched.
Bleszinski’s comments validate the opinions of angry Twitter and Reddit users. If a film starring a straight white male lead fails at the box office, it’s just another Friday. If a film starring anyone else does the same, this army of rabble-rousers is always on hand to suggest that if the protagonist hadn’t been a woman/person of color/LGBTQ+, it would have drawn more money. Despite there always being a slew of variables behind every sales failure in the entertainment industry, there will always by a sweaty YouTuber with 40+ videos on Captain Marvel explaining to you how The Left were to blame.
It’s wildly confusing that Bleszinski actually believes this. I had to Google ‘lawbreakers politics’ to clarify that there was even a sliver of controversy surrounding its apparent woke-ness, and the results popped up little more than a now-deleted tweet from Cliff to the Governor of North Carolina. “Gender neutral bathrooms in our new game, @PatMcCroryNC,” he tweeted with an image of said bathroom. “It takes place in the future, unlike the past you envision.”
I must have been asleep when LawBreakers was woke
How else, exactly, was LawBreakers “woke?” Outside of its gender-neutral bathrooms and his subsequent tweet about it, it seems Bleszinski thinks that giving the game’s women actual clothes to wear rather than armored underpants was a green tick in the ol’ progressive column. As was its “shoehorned” diversity, a comment which also serves to undermine LawBreakers‘ non-white characters.
There was an entire team who worked on LawBreakers as part of Boss Key, and an entire team who lost their jobs after the game’s poor sales. To suggest that its downfall was the result of Bleszinski’s personal politics, which were hardly front-and-center of its presentation, comes across as incredibly egocentric. Mismanagement, poor marketing, a concept that didn’t resonate with the market, and a misjudged launch window are all far more likely reasons for its downfall than Cliffy B tweeting a photo of a virtual toilet at a governor.
At this point, Bleszinski is so incapable of taking the ‘L’ that he’s standing on the other side of the alphabet. He’s positioned himself behind the letter ‘Z,’ trying to convince every other letter that him being woke on Twitter was more detrimental to LawBreakers‘ success than no one knowing it existed.
When you’re as online as Bleszinski is, it’s easy to think that the bubble of angry Redditors and Twitter…ers make up your audience. But the reality is you don’t “Get Woke, Go Broke” — people will come to your game, film, TV series, or whatever you’re creating if it’s appealing enough, regardless of whether or not there’s a white guy on its posters.