Rumors that Boss Key’s employees found out about the company’s closure via a tweet do not appear to be correct. Instead, a company meeting was held shortly before the announcement.
On May 14th, 2018, Cliff Bleszinski announced via Twitter that Boss Key Productions, Inc., the studio he founded in 2014, would be closing with immediate effect. Less than half an hour before Bleszinski’s tweet, Boss Key employee Ron LaJoie tweeted about the upcoming introduction of a female playable character to Radical Heights in response to a fan’s question. Just minutes after Bleszinski’s tweet, LaJoie confirmed that Radical Heights would never get its female character. LaJoie also suggested that his 10-year-old daughter found the announcement online before he was able to tell her the news.
Watching Boss Key employees respond to the news at the same time as the rest of us led some publications (and many angry Twitter users) to conclude that the employees received the news in the same way as the general public. That does not appear to be correct. LaJoie stated that he was notified of the closure via a hastily-arranged company meeting. Given the timing of the tweets discussed above, it appears that the meeting was a short one. Employees were leaving the studio within ninety minutes following the official announcement.
Bleszinski is a somewhat controversial figure in the video game industry. Only a month ago, he sent an angry message to Epic Games accusing them of trying to poach his employees, stating that he was really happy with how Radical Heights was going. By tweeting this publicly, he was effectively dissuading other employers from hiring his employees despite knowing there was a good chance those employees would be redundant in a month’s time.
Boss Key Productions will make fascinating case study one day, perhaps in a sequel to Jason Schreier’s Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. It seems surreal that a studio led by someone of Bleszinski’s experience ended up having to release a game it developed in only five months just to have a chance of short-term survival. There are questions to be answered and I suspect some of the blame lies at Bleszinski’s door. However, given the tweets above, it does not appear fair to accuse Bleszinski of firing his employees via a tweet.