Game development can be a difficult and thankless job. The hours and pay aren't often worth the time and effort, and crunch leaves many developers feeling worn down. As such, it's unsurprising to see some developers leaving the industry or needing breaks, and that seems to be the case for Ryan Cleven, the Multiplayer Design Director for the last two entries in the Gears of War franchise. On Twitter, the developer announced his departure from The Coalition. Cleven cited personal issues as his reason for leaving the team, but also mentioned that work on the games had "taken a toll."
It will be interesting to see what impact Cleven's departure will have on the next entry in the Gears series. In February, The Coalition also saw a major departure in the form of boss Rod Fergusson. In his post, Cleven refers to Fergusson as a "mentor," and cites his departure as a reason for leaving, as well as a displeasure with how Gears 5's multiplayer launched. Cleven doesn't seem to be the only one that feels this way; some fans and reviewers were less than thrilled with the multiplayer aspect of the last two series entries.
Cleven's comments about his need to re-evaluate his personal priorities certainly says a lot about the difficulties of the development process. Gamers often have a difficult time understanding just how much effort goes into the games that they love, but social media has allowed for people like Cleven to offer more of a window than previously possible.
I hope you're enjoying Operation 3: Gridiron. It's been my favourite to work on and is closer to how I wished we'd launched. It's also my last with TC & Gears. Due to personal issues, I'll be going on sabbatical indefinitely. Thanks for joining me on this journey. See you online. pic.twitter.com/j8uev2RBOS— Ryan Cleven (@nodezero) March 31, 2020
Of course, it should be noted that Cleven is just one man, and it's impossible to measure just how much of an impact his departure will have. That said, Microsoft has yet to officially announce a sixth entry in the Gears of War franchise, so it could be some time before fans get to see what happens next.