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Cliff Bleszinski Accuses Epic Games of Employee Poaching

Boss Key Productions co-founder Cliff Bleszinski tweeted Friday that former employer Epic Games is trying to poach his current staff.

“Hey @epicgames, could you please stop trying to hire away my team?” he wrote. “We just launched @Radical_Heights on #UE4 and are really happy with how it’s going.”

“There’s room at [sic] this genre for more than a few games SMH,” he added.

Epic Games helped popularize the battle royale genre last year with its megahit “Fortnite.” Boss Key Productions launched its own free-to-play ’80s-themed battle royale shooter, “Radical Heights,” last week. It’s in what Boss Key is calling “X-Treme Early Access,” which means it still needs a lot of work. It doesn’t even have female character avatars yet. Bleszinski posted a teaser image on Twitter Saturday and said they’re “forthcoming.”

“We have plenty of ways to make it our own but they may never see the light of day if they [Epic] keep doing this,” Bleszinski tweeted.

Bleszinski’s accusations come a few months after Boss Key co-founder Arjan Brussee left the studio and returned to Epic to work on an “exciting secret project,” according to GamesIndustry.biz. Brussee and Bleszinski both worked on the “Jazz Jackrabbit” series in the 1990s and had long careers at Epic. Bleszinski spent the majority of his time there working on franchises like “Unreal” and “Gears of War.” He left the studio in 2012 and, according to an interview with Destructoid, retired from video game development because everyone in the industry was “too jaded.” Two years later, he announced he was coming out of retirement and co-founded Boss Key.

Its first game, an online shooter called “Lawbreakers,” failed to catch on with fans and the studio recently shelved it to focus on “Radical Heights.”

It’s too soon to say if “Radical Heights” will find success, but the early numbers aren’t awesome. It’s barely cracking the top 100 games by player count on Steam, peaking at just over 7,200 players at the time this article was written. Steam reviews for the game are mixed as well. Many say it’s fun but note numerous bugs and missing features, which is normal for a game in Early Access.

Variety reached out to Epic Games for this story. It declined to comment.

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