Cliff Bleszinski announces departure from Epic Games

Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski announced today that he will be leaving the company. This is a surprising announcement to be sure, but it doesn't sound like Bleszinski will be leaving Epic for another company. Instead, Bleszinski says that he needs a break from the fast-paced games industry after working for Epic for the past 20 years.

His departure was announced in a post on the Epic Gamers blog, where a number of Bleszinski's colleagues at Epic said their goodbyes. "In 20 wonderful years with Epic, Cliff Bleszinski has grown into a true design luminary, and his contributions to the 'Unreal' and 'Gears' series have helped shape the game industry into what it is today," said Epic founder, CEO, and technical director Tim Sweeney. "Cliff leaves Epic with our gratitude for his many contributions, and our wishes for continued success in the next chapter of his life!"

Epic also shared an excerpt from Cliff's note to his co-workers, in which he says that he'll miss working with everyone at the studio. Have a look at it below:

I've been doing this since I was a teenager, and outside of my sabbatical last year, I have been going non-stop. I literally grew up in this business, as Mike likes to say. And now that I'm grown up, it's time for a much needed break.

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, believe it or not, has been working at Epic for more than half of his life. Those who have been fans of Epic from the start will remember one of his earliest efforts at the studio creating Jazz Jackrabbit. Bleszinski also worked on the Unreal series, which took the PC gaming crowd by storm in the late '90s. He's always been an outspoken and active member of the game development community, and was widely known as "CliffyB" for a number of years before dropping the persona a while back and going by his actual name.

More recently, Bleszinski served as creative director on the Gears of War series, a franchise that made Epic a household name among console gamers. He was working on Gears of War: Judgment when he announced his departure from the company, which is scheduled to launch on Xbox 360 in March 2013. Bleszinski will certainly be missed at Epic, but we're definitely looking forward to seeing what he does once he decides its time to come back to the games industry. Stay tuned.