Cliffy B Describes Games Industry's "State of Turmoil"

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Cliffy B Describes Games Industry's "State of Turmoil"

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The man behind Gears of War encourages indie devs and timely updates.

Some people would take some time to rest on their laurels after creating the hit Gears of War trilogy, but Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games, is not some people. In addition to thinking about starting his own studio, Cliffy B has taken a role as a keen outside observer of the modern games industry. According to Bleszinski, the industry has entered its most tumultuous state since the crash of the 1980s, and will exit the latest console generation in a very different state from which it entered.

"I really think we're in a massive state of turmoil," says Bleszinski. He goes on to list a number of predictions for major companies, from Nintendo to Apple. "I think Nintendo could possibly be faced with the situation of becoming a company that only makes software moving forward. I think Sony and Microsoft are about to come to major blows. But at the same time, people love playing games on their iPad. The PC is going through a wonderful renaissance right now." While Bleszinski argues that this is an exciting time for the industry, the major players must be sensitive what gamers want. In addition to supplying more than just AAA $60 titles, he believes that Sony and Microsoft should make it easier for indie developers and user-created content to thrive. "All that red tape needs to be stripped away in order to create an ecosystem to allow for a product like Minecraft to actually happen on a console."

Another key issue for future consoles will be supplying fixes and patches for games as soon as possible. Bleszinski recounts the story of Gears of War 2, which had a number of multiplayer issues out of the starting gate. "It took us three months to get an update out," Bleszinski laments. "By that time, the majority of users had moved on to the next game or had traded it in. If Microsoft and Sony are to do well in this next generation, they are going to need to reduce that time as much as possible." He points out that PCs and tablets already do this well, so there is no reasons why consoles shouldn't offer similar functionality.

Apart from his commentary, Cliffy B wants to wait a while before jumping back into the industry. He claims that now would be "the absolute worst time" for such an endeavor, and will wait to see which way the wind is blowing before investing a lot of time, money, and effort in developing a business model that might be obsolete by time it gets off the ground. For more insight from Bleszinski, keep an eye out for his keynote speech at the East Coast Games Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina in late April.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Image: Wikipedia

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Not sure I agree on that.

Also inb4 all of the Cliffy B haters.

cute, Clifford. It's funny how he makes these claims but doesn't really have anything to back it up. Honestly if another crash happens, more than likely Nintendo is the one company who's going to survive.

I'm rather keen on his next projects... my childhood was built up on Unreal Tournament and Jazz Jackrabbit. My bet is on it being a horror title.

And... does it feel like Cliffy has grown up a bit? He seems to have grown out of that irritating dudebro persona as of late.

Got to post this no matter what:

On topic though, I usually dont disagree with him but latelly he seems more interested in that social stuff that I dont think that its necessary for making a good game that people enjoy.

I think he made a few very good points. The CliffyB haters can cry all they want, he's been in the industry just about as long as most of us have been playing games in a hardcore manner.

Not sure about Nintendo becoming a software only company, but they are mimicking SEGA's former treatment of the 3rd Party quite a bit. Sony and Microsoft are in DEEP SHIT that's for sure. Microsoft especially.

The Xbox 360 is now in 3rd place for 7th gen and when you look at it, it has very little exclusives to its name. There used to be BioShock, Mass Effect, and a bunch of other 360 exclusives. Then they all got ported to the PS3 with equal or better sales. The only worthwhile 360 exclusives I can name are Fable 3 and the Halo games.

Sony's Vita is a commercial failure at the moment due to its high price, comically bad hardware features (i.e. the only handheld electronic device on the market with no internal memory), and only 2-4 games on it being worth buying. The PS3's run was an uphill battle for 2nd place with some pretty big mistakes.

I think he's right to wait a few years before getting back into gaming because with the mainstream console markets sales constantly getting lower and less reasons for people to spend $60 on the games that are coming out, it ain't looking good.

Aiddon:
cute, Clifford. It's funny how he makes these claims but doesn't really have anything to back it up. Honestly if another crash happens, more than likely Nintendo is the one company who's going to survive.

It was in an interview asking his opinion, not some Pachter industry analysis. He doesn't need to logs of trends and sources to express what he thinks.

And at the very least, he's right about the Minecraft bit. Something like that would never take off with all the controls, checks, and balances that exist on a console.

I'm not sure I agree with his Nintendo statement though. They're the masters of playing safe, and have made quite a bit of money doing so. They can survive for a bit with their hardware as is.

That said, I certainly wish Nintendo would go Software-only. I'd rather have pokemon or Zelda on my PC or smart phone, rather than shell out hundreds of dollars for a device I'll only use for Nintendo games.

Marshall Honorof:
The man behind Gears of War encourages indie devs and timely updates.

To paraphrase a tinny old wise man: It's not that we disagree with you, it's that you shouldn't have to tell adults that.

(Insert Star Wars Opening here) That's immediately what I first thought of reading the headline. XD

Aiddon:
cute, Clifford. It's funny how he makes these claims but doesn't really have anything to back it up. Honestly if another crash happens, more than likely Nintendo is the one company who's going to survive.

He does have stuff to back up what he says though.. Look at how low console gaming sales have been in the last few years. Look at all of the terrible practices this gen created. Massive day one patches, games being released in a horrible state (to such a point that people pretty much accept a broken Bethesda/Obsidian game every time), DLC and Season passes have made triple A games cost well above $60 and give out less game to play. The 7th generation of consoles is looking to be the overall worst in recent memory.

We saw Square Enix almost kill Final Fantasy. We saw the Wii sell on a gimmick that, in time, wasn't even used by its best games. We saw the PS3 copy the Wii with poor commercial results. We saw MS still think they have a reason to charge people for Xbox Gold accounts. I'd have to say, this is a pretty bad generation for gaming in recent memory. Thank god for all of the indie classics that came about. (And Just Cause 2)

Cliffy B doesn't need to back up his claims. Its kind of clear to see that, at least for the big 3, there's trouble going on. Nintendo slashing the price of their handheld by 33% within 6 months of launch is some troubling shit. Them also putting up their first losses ever spells trouble, and they haven't gotten out of that yet. The Playstation and the Xbox are both just parts of a major corporation, Nintendo's consoles aren't.

But to be fair, I think we'll see MS bow out of consoles before Nintendo or Sony. They spent so much money on timed exclusives and it really didn't matter. All of the 360 exclusives that got ported to the PS3 sold just as well or better on the PS3 (especially ALL the JRPGs that MS paid to have as exclusives). The timed DLC exclusives were just as bad and was rarely worth it. I think MS actually burned the most money this generation with the least effect. Look at the 360 now. What exclusive games does it have other than Halo, Gears, and Alan Wake?

Mcoffey:

Aiddon:
cute, Clifford. It's funny how he makes these claims but doesn't really have anything to back it up. Honestly if another crash happens, more than likely Nintendo is the one company who's going to survive.

It was in an interview asking his opinion, not some Pachter industry analysis. He doesn't need to logs of trends and sources to express what he thinks.

And at the very least, he's right about the Minecraft bit. Something like that would never take off with all the controls, checks, and balances that exist on a console.

I'm not sure I agree with his Nintendo statement though. They're the masters of playing safe, and have made quite a bit of money doing so. They can survive for a bit with their hardware as is.

That said, I certainly wish Nintendo would go Software-only. I'd rather have pokemon or Zelda on my PC or smart phone, rather than shell out hundreds of dollars for a device I'll only use for Nintendo games.

If Nintendo went software only, a Pokemon MMO made by them would be viable. Think about that for a second. Let it sit in your brain.

I dunno man, I'm getting the same sort of vibes.

Looking at my Xbox, I just don't have the time or money to throw 40 at it every time I want a new experience. I get a lot more enjoyment out of using my midrange PC with free, indie titles.

In the last year I've spent more time on my phone and pc than my Xbox but also the endless "you must enjoy multiplayer!" message is really jarring for someone who just could not care less about what other people are doing or playing.

Which means that I'm paying that 40 for only half, or less, of the experience a game has to offer because I haven't bought into that other half.
Which is not the industries fault, but neither is it mine.
It's just a different point of view that the games industry (the AAA market that is) is starting to just ignore, or worse, with on disk DLC and season passes.

AzrealMaximillion:

Mcoffey:

Aiddon:
cute, Clifford. It's funny how he makes these claims but doesn't really have anything to back it up. Honestly if another crash happens, more than likely Nintendo is the one company who's going to survive.

It was in an interview asking his opinion, not some Pachter industry analysis. He doesn't need to logs of trends and sources to express what he thinks.

And at the very least, he's right about the Minecraft bit. Something like that would never take off with all the controls, checks, and balances that exist on a console.

I'm not sure I agree with his Nintendo statement though. They're the masters of playing safe, and have made quite a bit of money doing so. They can survive for a bit with their hardware as is.

That said, I certainly wish Nintendo would go Software-only. I'd rather have pokemon or Zelda on my PC or smart phone, rather than shell out hundreds of dollars for a device I'll only use for Nintendo games.

If Nintendo went software only, a Pokemon MMO made by them would be viable. Think about that for a second. Let it sit in your brain.

My dream pokemon game shamelessly apes Bethesda and puts it in an open world with real time combat. Hell, they could even keep phoning it in in the story department if that were to happen.

Aiddon:
cute, Clifford. It's funny how he makes these claims but doesn't really have anything to back it up. Honestly if another crash happens, more than likely Nintendo is the one company who's going to survive.

Nintendo going software only (maybe handheld hardware) would be a great for gamers.

Aiddon:
cute, Clifford. It's funny how he makes these claims but doesn't really have anything to back it up. Honestly if another crash happens, more than likely Nintendo is the one company who's going to survive.

A sad truth, that.

Nostalgia gamers and a consumer base in Japan will keep the old war horse trotting along.

I actually see all of this happening, except Nintendo going full-software. I think Nintendo will stick to hardware and first-party software if it kills them, which it will.

This extended console generation has helped PC gaming soooo much. It's amazing what it has done for PC gaming. All the console makers were trying to save money by doing the extended generation but I think maybe they shot themselves in the foot for short term profits over long term gains. I really doubt it was intentional though. I doubt many people could of predicted just how much of an effect on the PC market that the extended console generation had.

Wow... some of the actual decent arguments I hear on these forums coming from CliffyB's own mouth? How does the escapist's general public react? I mean, most of the time discussion of the man comes up around these parts, he is being compared to Hitler or something...

Honestly I think he has made some very fair points, the PC market is certainly doing a lot better than it was, despite its most vocal community, and nintendo I can certainly see moving out of the hardware game if the WiiU continues in the direction it is spiralling, especially come the true 8thGen consoles.

As and when Cliff gets back in the development business, I will be very interested to see what he puts out.

Yes, yes, I know, PC is the ultimate gaming machine, nothing will ever compare to it, and consoles are all pieces of crap.

Looking at the main part of what he is saying though...I don't think he understands that console games are still selling really well. I mean, why would Nintendo go software-only when Skyward Sword, the most recent Zelda game, has sold 3 and a half million copies on a system that was on the verge of being replaced by the Wii U?

Speaking of the Wii U, the latest Mario game on it has sold 1.5 million copies. That may not sound like much, but the number of Wii U sales is, with a generous estimate, about 2 million consoles. That means nearly everybody who bought a Wii U also bought New Super Mario Bros. U. Why would Nintendo give that up?

As for saying that Sony and Microsoft should give up focus on AAA games and focus on indie devs, that is a nice sentiment, but the figures don't lie. Out of the 10 best selling games last year, 10 were sequels, and 7 or 8 of them were AAA games (not sure if Borderlands 2 is a AAA game). Indie games definitely sell, don't get me wrong. Notch and his pile of money can attest to that. But saying that there isn't as much of a future for AAA games is...not exactly accurate.

Oh, and Minecraft on a console? That totally already happened. In fact, Minecraft is one of the biggest sellers on the Xbox Live store. Microsoft has no problem with getting indie games on Xbox Live. In fact, they have an entire section of the store devoted to indie games.

These are interesting points that Jim made in his video not too long ago. The industry is adapting practices that could very well turn off consumers and make their products toxic. I miss the old days when cheatcodes were actual codes and not "Super Awesome God-Mode and Giant Guns!" DLC and when if you bought a multiplayer game you knew if could last a few years since a new one wasn't on it's way next year (speaking of which how many people here are still playing MW3?).

All I can think of was a discussion I had in school one time when my teacher stated that the only way the oil industry would ever crash is when they priced themselves so high no one would buy from them and finally look towards other sources. That mobile game and electric car might not be that appealing now but when the price of gas/AAA games just keeps going up and up and you feel like your getting screwed over suddenly they look a lot better.

thebobmaster:

Oh, and Minecraft on a console? That totally already happened. In fact, Minecraft is one of the biggest sellers on the Xbox Live store. Microsoft has no problem with getting indie games on Xbox Live. In fact, they have an entire section of the store devoted to indie games.

I think he meant a smash indie hit like Minecraft being developed on the console first. The implication is that consoles don't lend themselves well to small indie games whereas on the PC they're welcome and can easily get their footing. I'm not sure about that though since I know a decent ammount of indie games do get made for the consoles however if I remember right a sizable portion of those are though company hosted programs where they are given special treatment and advertising so anyone who isn't hosted or a triple A game might be out of luck,

synobal:
This extended console generation has helped PC gaming soooo much. It's amazing what it has done for PC gaming. All the console makers were trying to save money by doing the extended generation but I think maybe they shot themselves in the foot for short term profits over long term gains. I really doubt it was intentional though. I doubt many people could of predicted just how much of an effect on the PC market that the extended console generation had.

I think console games continually selling more and more copies every year disagrees with you.

Nitentedo are the weakest they have been in years but CliffyB may be over doing it. Slow selling handhelds and a dead hardware waiting for the other next gem consoles hurts your income. And sony and microsoft going at each other? well duh.

But yea his general point stands, unfortunately we live in intresting times in gaming as much as the real world and we shall see what the future brings.

Little Gray:

synobal:
This extended console generation has helped PC gaming soooo much. It's amazing what it has done for PC gaming. All the console makers were trying to save money by doing the extended generation but I think maybe they shot themselves in the foot for short term profits over long term gains. I really doubt it was intentional though. I doubt many people could of predicted just how much of an effect on the PC market that the extended console generation had.

I think console games continually selling more and more copies every year disagrees with you.

One or two games may have increased sales continually every year such as CoD. But overall game retail sales have been dropping massively. However, PC gaming (at least on steam) has continued to grow and as cliff stated is going into a rebirth. Although even that term is factually incorrect as in order for there to be a rebirth something had to die.

thebobmaster:
Yes, yes, I know, PC is the ultimate gaming machine, nothing will ever compare to it, and consoles are all pieces of crap.

Looking at the main part of what he is saying though...I don't think he understands that console games are still selling really well. I mean, why would Nintendo go software-only when Skyward Sword, the most recent Zelda game, has sold 3 and a half million copies on a system that was on the verge of being replaced by the Wii U?

I don't think CliffyB means right away, but he does have a point. Even with Skyward Sword selling 3 million, Nintendo is still losing money. Their profits have been shrinking for the last 2 years. 1 game selling 3 million isn't going to offset that. Especially as one of very few games on the Wii in recent memory to sell that well. I think CliffyB is saying that this gen is going to be a dealbreaker for all 3 and that Nintendo's Wii reputation put them in a disadvantage.

Speaking of the Wii U, the latest Mario game on it has sold 1.5 million copies. That may not sound like much, but the number of Wii U sales is, with a generous estimate, about 2 million consoles. That means nearly everybody who bought a Wii U also bought New Super Mario Bros. U. Why would Nintendo give that up?

Because, again, a few games selling well doesn't save a company from bad profits. Nintendo is selling the Wii U at a loss right now (for the first tme in a while) with 3 million units actually sold. Super Mario Brothers U is the ONLY game to sell that well on the Wii U. Why? There's nothing else to buy on it with that appeal. There's also a long wait before anything worth looking at on the Wii U is coming out. Nintendo can't rely on one Mario game to make up the losses.

As for saying that Sony and Microsoft should give up focus on AAA games and focus on indie devs, that is a nice sentiment, but the figures don't lie. Out of the 10 best selling games last year, 10 were sequels, and 7 or 8 of them were AAA games (not sure if Borderlands 2 is a AAA game). Indie games definitely sell, don't get me wrong. Notch and his pile of money can attest to that. But saying that there isn't as much of a future for AAA games is...not exactly accurate.

Here's the thing with that. Indie games have a much better profit margin than AAA games. And also, since the figure don't lie, the figures also show that console software has been selling worse and worse for the past few years, with indie titles on the rise. Indie titles have the PC to thank for that, as its a pain in the ass to get an indie game on consoles. Look, we're seeing a game studio or 2 close at least once a month. We just saw THQ go bankrupt and Blizzard, Activision, and other big publishers have been laying people off. High sales don't mean profit. Big gaming companies are spending more and earning less.

Oh, and Minecraft on a console? That totally already happened. In fact, Minecraft is one of the biggest sellers on the Xbox Live store. Microsoft has no problem with getting indie games on Xbox Live. In fact, they have an entire section of the store devoted to indie games.

Microsoft has no problem getting indie games on XBL. That's one of the most laughable things I've heard in recent memory. Did you not hear of Indie Game: The Movie? While not the best way to look at how indie games are made, what that movie does illustrate it the massive difficulty of indie developers getting their game on the consoles. The costs of patches to be done on the Xbox Live Market alone kind of destroys your point there.

$10,000 for a patch. Look up the MS dispute with FEZ.

The gaming industry is going through some major shit right now. CliffyB knows what he's talking about. He's spent more man hours in the industry in his 20+ year career than both me and you have spend playing games.

Desert Punk:

Nintendo going software only (maybe handheld hardware) would be a great for gamers.

How? Not even "how is this a good idea" more like "how the hell could a catastrophic series events like that happen in the first place?" Clifford's problem is that he is literally pulling that assumption out of his ass. He has nothing to back it up. This is just him running his mouth again.

Little Gray:

synobal:
This extended console generation has helped PC gaming soooo much. It's amazing what it has done for PC gaming. All the console makers were trying to save money by doing the extended generation but I think maybe they shot themselves in the foot for short term profits over long term gains. I really doubt it was intentional though. I doubt many people could of predicted just how much of an effect on the PC market that the extended console generation had.

I think console games continually selling more and more copies every year disagrees with you.

I think that sales reports on game sales for the past 5 years would disagree with you.

Replace "Nintendo" with "Sony" and then we have a more probable scenario given recent developments regarding Sony's "junk status" and their selling of their US HQ building just to get more money. Of the three console makers, I'd say Nintendo is the safest off and has been so for quite some time.

I both agree and disagree with the rest of the points.
On indie devs, I would think the competent ones would stay on PC and keep pumping out quality titles (on Steam or otherwise) without having to stoop to shovelware level (a fair portion of XBLA arcade games) or have to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to issue a patch (if what the Fez creator said of XBLA was true).

I agree with all of his general points, but I want to know why HE agrees with them after spending the height of his career in the AAA console market.

Edit
Aside: Hey Cliff, how about Shadow Complex 2? I'd even settle on porting Shadow Complex to PC.

NightmareExpress:
Replace "Nintendo" with "Sony" and then we have a more probable scenario given recent developments regarding Sony's "junk status" and their selling of their US HQ building just to get more money. Of the three console makers, I'd say Nintendo is the safest off and has been so for quite some time.

God, someone could write a BOOK about how badly Sony has been managed over the years. That's what really gets me about these Nintendo claims is that the numbers tell a COMPLETELY different scenario and it's this: Nintendo is by FAR the most successful of its competitors and not only is not laying people or restructuring, it's EXPANDING. They're making a whole new building for new teams.

NightmareExpress:
Replace "Nintendo" with "Sony" and then we have a more probable scenario given recent developments regarding Sony's "junk status" and their selling of their US HQ building just to get more money. Of the three console makers, I'd say Nintendo is the safest off and has been so for quite some time.

I both agree and disagree with the rest of the points.
On indie devs, I would think the competent ones would stay on PC and keep pumping out quality titles (on Steam or otherwise) without having to stoop to shovelware level (a fair portion of XBLA arcade games) or have to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to issue a patch (if what the Fez creator said of XBLA was true).

Yes nintendo is the strongest of the three. Also someone earlier said that WiiU is selling at a loss but the thing is they become profitable with one game sold. Considering that Super Mario Brothers WiiU sold 1.5 million out of the 2 million WiiU units sold, that means that majority of the consoles sold right now were in profit.

Also the 3DS is kicking ass right now and with the new fire emblem game, its really taking off strong.

However, one thing that bothers me is think about who has the most exclusive content. Right now Nintendo has the most exclusive titles that arn't on steam that I want to buy. Both Sony and microsoft have maybe one or two exclusives that I like but nothing worth plunging into the next gen BS.

NightmareExpress:
Replace "Nintendo" with "Sony" and then we have a more probable scenario given recent developments regarding Sony's "junk status" and their selling of their US HQ building just to get more money. Of the three console makers, I'd say Nintendo is the safest off and has been so for quite some time.

I both agree and disagree with the rest of the points.
On indie devs, I would think the competent ones would stay on PC and keep pumping out quality titles (on Steam or otherwise) without having to stoop to shovelware level (a fair portion of XBLA arcade games) or have to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to issue a patch (if what the Fez creator said of XBLA was true).

I'd say that the Xbox is in the most trouble by a long shot. They have no exclusive franchises and still think charging people for online use is ok. Seriously, all but Gears, Halo, and Alan Wake were ported to the PS3. There's no reason to grab the next Xbox unless a lot of new big exclusive IPs are announced.

GAunderrated:

Yes nintendo is the strongest of the three. Also someone earlier said that WiiU is selling at a loss but the thing is they become profitable with one game sold. Considering that Super Mario Brothers WiiU sold 1.5 million out of the 2 million WiiU units sold, that means that majority of the consoles sold right now were in profit.

I highly doubt that Nintendo's cut of what Super Mario Brothers Wii U is completely covering the losses being made with every Wii U sold. That's unrealistic, its one game. Nintendo doesn't take a %100 stake off all the profit made off of Super Mario Bros Wii U. Nintendo may be the strongest now, but we'll have to see if the Wii U can handle competition, because as it stands now it has none, and Nintendo has already rolled back sales expectations more than once. If the Wii U has no games worth looking at by this coming Christmas, they are in trouble. Hell, they've been reporting losses for a while now. That could also be thanks to the 3DS' massive price cut so soon after its launch.

Nintendo selling the most consoles in the 7th generation doesn't really make up for the whooping that they got in the 5th and 6th by the Playstation. Not saying that they've been week, but they haven't been strong for a while, and the Wii wasn't Nintendo's best effort.

Honestly, I think that MS is the weakest if the 3 in terms of the gaming industry. Coming in last place 2 generations in a row HAS to look bad. And losing almost all of the 360's exclusive franchises to the PC and PS3 really does make work on the next Xbox harder.

People make it look like Nintendo is walking on sunshine when they are in just as big of trouble as MS and Sony in the console world.

AzrealMaximillion:
Because, again, a few games selling well doesn't save a company from bad profits. Nintendo is selling the Wii U at a loss right now (for the first tme in a while) with 3 million units actually sold. Super Mario Brothers U is the ONLY game to sell that well on the Wii U. Why? There's nothing else to buy on it with that appeal. There's also a long wait before anything worth looking at on the Wii U is coming out. Nintendo can't rely on one Mario game to make up the losses.

It's only a loss for the 8 gig model, and it makes that loss back with ONE single game sale. Nintendo is Ultra Conservative and masters of making consoles make money even if they "lose" the war. Only Nintedno can get this kind of a head line "Nintendo boosts profit forecast, cuts Wii U sales target". How do you INCREASE your profit forecast when each unit sold is at a loss. The only way is to be making a profit on each unit sold. If you take the 3 Nintendo published games on the Wii U (Mario, Nintendo Land, ZombiU) it comes to 3.5 million games. That vastly exceeds Nintendos minimum for profitability of the system.

Marshall Honorof:
"The PC is going through a wonderful renaissance right now."

Oh, really? Because I thought that us barbarous PC gamers were too busy pirating everything for the platform to be worth a damn. Just a shame he wasn't called on that so he could have a foot in mouth moment.

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