Cliff Bleszinski, better known to gamers as Cliffy B, has announced his departure from developer Epic Games. Effective immediately, Bleszinski will be vacating his post as Epic’s Design Director in order to “chart the next stage of his career.”

The news was broken on Epic Games official site, where the developer had nothing but positive things to say about Bleszinski’s 20 years with the company. Based on comments from Epic big wigs and Bleszinski himself it appears the split was amicable.

While not solely responsible for Epic Games’ prized franchises like Unreal Tournament or Gears of War, Bleszinski has long been considered the face of the developer — making the awards show acceptance speeches and showing genuine enthusiasm for upcoming projects. Among the games Cliff is leaving behind for Epic and its subsidiaries (People Can Fly, Chair, Impossible) are the forthcoming PC title Fortnite and Gears of War: Judgment.

It was only a few months ago that Bleszinski took the stage at Comic-Con to officially unveil Fortnite to a crowd of 300+ gamers, and now he’s leaving the project in the capable hands of Producer Tanya Jessen and Lead Artist Pete Ellis, among others. Seeing Cliffy B speak first hand demonstrates just how much of a die-hard gamer he his. His enthusiasm for any project is undeniably infectious, and his willingness to buck the trends and speak candidly was admirable.

Here’s a quote from Bleszinski in regards to his departure:

 I will miss the projects, the playtests, the debates, and most importantly, the people. Epic only hires the best of the best, and it has been a joy working with each and every one of you on a daily basis, whether you were hired weeks ago or decades ago. I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with a variety of disciplines, from code to art to marketing and PR — it’s been one big, rewarding learning experience. I’m confident that each project that is being built, whether at Epic, Chair, PCF, or Impossible will be top notch and will please gamers and critics alike.

Bleszinski’s departure from Epic comes as a complete surprise, especially considering the developer had just lost several key team members including Rod Fergusson (who is now helping Irrational Games’ complete BioShock Infinite). With Fergusson gone, Bleszinski’s role almost assuredly grew, and now his departure leaves us wondering how the developer will respond.

Obviously CEO Tim Sweeney and President Mike Capps will ensure all of Epic Games’ current projects, including Unreal Engine 4, continue without a hitch, but the real question is whether or not fans will find cause for concern in Bleszinski’s departure. Both Fortnite and Gears of War: Judgment are slated for 2013 releases (although Fortnite‘s will likely be in beta form), so both should be in the home stretches of development, but who’s to say how much influence Cliff has these days.

Regardless, we wish Bleszinski all the best in the next chapter of his life, whether it be in video games or some other endeavor.

How do you think Cliffy B’s departure from Epic Games will impact future projects? What would you like to see him do next?

Source: Epic Games