Epic Games is a privately owned company and does not disclose its earnings. But on a Monday morning in late April, while standing in Epic’s parking lot, at Crossroads Corporate Park, in Cary, North Carolina, awaiting the arrival of Cliff Bleszinski, the company’s thirty-three-year-old design director, I realized that my surroundings were their own sort of Nasdaq. Ten feet away was a red Hummer H3. Nearby was a Lotus Elise, and next to it a pumpkin-orange Porsche. Many of the cars had personalized plates: “PS3CODER” (a reference to Sony’s PlayStation3), “EPICBOY,” “GRSOFWAR.”
The last is shorthand for Gears of War, a shooter game, which Epic released in November, 2006, for play on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console. Gears of War was quickly recognized as the first game to provide the sensually overwhelming experience for which the console, launched a year earlier, had been designed. Gears won virtually every available industry award, and was the 360’s best-selling game for nearly a year; it has now sold five million copies. On November 7th, a sequel, Gears of War 2, will be released; its development, long rumored, was not confirmed until this past February, when, at the Game Developers’ Conference, in San Francisco, Bleszinski made the announcement after bursting through an onstage partition wielding a replica of one of Gears of War’s signature weapons—an assault rifle mounted with a chainsaw bayonet.
more from our pal Tom Bissell in The New Yorker here.