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Nexon acquires minority stake in Gears of War designer's new games company

Cliff Bleszinski's new studio, Boss Key Productions, will be rolling out its first free-to-play title through Nexon.

The logo for Boss Key Productions. Boss Key

Japanese video game maker Nexon has acquired a minority stake in Boss Key Productions, a new video game studio headed by a developer behind the hit Gears of War action title, and will publish its first game.

Boss Key, headed by veteran game designer Cliff Bleszinski, said in a statement that Nexon has retained a minority stake in its company and exclusive publishing and marketing rights its first game, codenamed BlueStreak. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal brings Nexon a step further into the US video game market, which it has been focused on for some time. The 20-year-old company, which pioneered a business model in which gamers can download titles initially for free, recently promoted former Electronic Arts executive Owen Mahoney to CEO and announced new titles aimed at American audiences.

Nexon has also recently invested in other American game makers, including Rumble Entertainment, which makes an action adventure game called Kings Road.

For Bleszinski, Boss Key represents his latest effort at making games after leading development of popular titles such as Gears of War and Unreal Tournament at Epic Games. He'd taken a break from video game development in 2012.

Bleszinski said in a statement that Nexon's expertise making games that are initially free to play made the deal attractive. "Creating fun and memorable shooters is in my DNA, and making the move to free-to-play games is all about maximizing the potential audience for your title while embracing where the industry is headed," he said.

Updated at 10:00AM PT: To reflect that Nexon took a minority stake, not a majority stake, in Boss Key.