"If I could go back, I wouldn't have allowed that [alpha version] to be publicly streamed because it deflated some of the expectations, and we have to work three times as hard to win people back based on that perception."
- Boss Key cofounder and game industry veteran Cliff Bleszinski, speaking to Eurogamer.
Roughly three years after making its public debut, Boss Key this week released its first game: LawBreakers, a competitive shooter initially intended to be a free-to-play game that switched tracks in 2016 and launched as a $30 multiplayer-only game on Steam and PlayStation 4.
In a wide-ranging post-release interview with Eurogamer, LawBreakers director Clif Bleszinski acknowledged that in hindsight, the initial attempt at a F2P model seemed like a misstep. He also expressed regret about the studio's decision to allow people to stream themselves playing alpha versions of the game, suggesting that it undercut public perception of the game.
"The alpha - it was okay for what it was, but it wasn't the full vision for what I wanted to achieve with this team. And if I could go back, I wouldn't have allowed that to be publicly streamed," Bleszinski said. "It deflated some of the expectations, and we have to work three times as hard to win people back based on that perception."
It's a regret worth noting for fellow devs, who are making games at a time when both livestreaming and releasing games before they're finished (via public betas, Kickstarter backer rewards or just Steam's Early Access service) are common practice.
Elsewhere in the interview Bleszinski pushes back on a question about LawBreakers' reportedly low concurrent player count (~1,700 on Steam at this time) by pointing to the game's positive reviews (on Steam and elsewhere) and committing to a future of supporting and nurturing the game's community.
"It's a marathon not a sprint. I'd rather be the underhyped game that slowly ramps up into something that people adore than something that comes out with way too much hype that there's a backlash for," said Bleszinski. "We're not doing the traditional pop of what triple-A is. We're feeling out this new space, much like [Ninja Theory's] Hellblade is, for what for lack of a better term is double-A."
The folks at Ninja Theory have long used the term "triple-A indie" to describe their work on Hellblade, which also launched this week on PC and PlayStation 4 with a $30 price tag. It remains to be seen whether "double-A' is in fact a better term.
For more of Bleszinski's post-launch thoughts, check out the full interview on Eurogamer. If you'd like a bit more insight into how LawBreakers was designed to try and stand out amid a crowded field of games, you might also enjoy our recent chat with lead designer Dan Nanni.