In the gaming industry it’s fairly common for larger developers and publishers to close down their smaller studios. It seems to be happening at least once and month, and when it does most gamers are sad to see a beloved member of the industry go.
Occasionally, though, a studio decides to cut off on its own, like Gears of War: Judgment developer People Can Fly did this week, separating from Epic Games. People Can Fly was formerly a part of Epic, but now they are a fully independent developer.
News of People Can Fly’s separation from Epic Games comes at an interesting time, as it appears Epic is focusing less and less on major game development. Sure, they have Unreal Tournament and Fortnite in the works, but many of the studio’s major developers – namely Gears Director Cliff Bleszinski – have gone off to form or join competing studios. Needless to say, there’s a sense that Epic’s focus may be on Unreal Engine 4 and making that the standard for current-gen experiences.
Whether or not that played a role in People Can Fly’s departure is unclear, but the good news is the studio doesn’t leave Epic Games empty handed. Apparently, People Can Fly owns the rights to the Bulletstorm IP, and are presumably now free to make a sequel if they so decide. Prior reports had suggested that People Can Fly bought the Bulletstorm IP from Epic as they left, but the studio clarified that the IP was always theirs.
However, it’s the specific mention of Bulletstorm that is sure to generate some excitement from gamers. Largely seen as a unique and successful (from a quality perspective) FPS experience, Bulletstorm delivered brash, fast-paced combat with a clever scoring mechanic and a ton of gratuitous violence. By and large it seemed as if the game was well-received by critics, but no sequel was announced because the game apparently did not make much money. Presumably Epic Games had the final say over whether or not a sequel was put into motion.
There was some talk of a Bulletstorm follow-up shortly after the first game was released, but the studio was instead put on Gears of War: Judgment development. By no means was Judgment a failure, though, it simply wasn’t the Gears game that fans were looking for at the time. Gears of War 3 had done so well to finish the story that it seemed almost superfluous to go back into that world, and putting a different studio in charge of the project made things even harder to swallow.
Now, People Can Fly has the freedom to chart its own course. They can work on Bulletstorm 2 if they so choose, or they can develop a new IP. But whatever it is they deliver, rest assured we will be intrigued.