CliffyB: Microtransaction is Not a Dirty Word, EA is Not The Bad Guy

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CliffyB: Microtransaction is Not a Dirty Word, EA is Not The Bad Guy

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Cliff Bleszinski is tired of EA being seen as "the bad guy," while Valve can "do no wrong."

Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski, former game designer at Epic Games and the man who brought us Gears of War, has spoken out on the reality of microtransactions in videogames on his personal blog. He also thinks that maybe we shouldn't be so quick to grab our pitchforks and torches every time EA announces a "questionable" revenue model. "It blows my mind that ... when Valve charges 100$ for an engagement ring in Team Fortress 2 it's somehow cool, yet when EA wants to sell something similar it's seen as evil."

Bleszinski points out that the videogame industry is just that: an industry, and when a videogame company is trading on the stock market, its bottom line is making enough money to keep the shareholders happy, and put food on the tables of its employees. "Those talented artists, programmers, designers, and producers that spent their time building the game you love? They need to eat and feed their families. (Something that the hipster/boomerang kid generation seems to forget all too often.)"

Videogames can cost upwards of $100 million to make and market, says Bleszinski, and are actually cheaper than ever before for consumers when adjusted for inflation. Because of this, Bleszinski thinks that we shouldn't be so quick to complain whenever a company tries to squeeze a little more revenue out of these huge projects via microtransactions or DLC.

"I've seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They're a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are 'nickel and diming them.' They're raging at 'big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money.' I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm tired of EA being seen as 'the bad guy.' I think it's bullshit that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong."

Bleszinski also defends EA's Origin service, saying "People love to beat up on Origin, but they forget that, for a good amount of time, Steam sucked. No one took it seriously for the first while. When Gabe pitched it at GDC to my former co-workers years ago they came back with eye rolls." Steam took years to become the undisputed king of digital distribution, and Bleszinski asks us to remember this before dismissing Origin.

"If you don't like EA, don't buy their games," Bleszinski tells us, reminding us that videogame companies exist in a capitalistic world, where consumers are free to spend their money however they see fit. "EA has many smart people working for them ... and they wouldn't attempt these things if they didn't work. Turns out, they do," says Bleszinski, mirroring comments from EA that gamers actually enjoy microtransactions.

Bleszinski finishes by telling us that "If you love a product, you'll throw money at it," citing the success of things like World of Warcraft's digital pet store. He says that the only way we can actually have any effect on the videogame industry is to get off our soapboxes and "vote with our dollars."

Source: Dude Huge Speaks

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Just because something can be marketed so that the people supported a move to it doesn't make it inherently not evil. Look at fascism.

More seriously I've been getting the impression every time he talks lately that Cliff sees everything in a world devoid of context. The engagement ring is a complete non-issue because it effects no-one, it's just a nearly invisible little trinket that doesn't affect the game in any way beyond a game-wide message saying you bought it and that some people decided to drop $100 to troll the entire game.

And that's not even getting into the fact that they started microtransactions just before the game's third birthday, the ring was released five and a half years after the game.

Also while I'm on my soapbox how does everyone else keep saying microtransactions when referring to $5-10 purchases with I straight face... I can't manage it

Difference being, Valve didn't charge me 40 quid for TF2.

Microtransactions are fine in F2P models, but when you charge full price for the game, it gets a little sketchy...

The problem is the underlying assumption that Valve and EA are comparable in this aspect of the industry when they aren't.
Micro-transactions are fine when I didn't already pay box price for a game.

SO let's just ignore everything else EA has done that wasn't mentioned?
I mean come on I can tell the good side to any story also, it's telling the whole story that counts......
.....btw this isn't it.

Team Fortress is free, and not a story based shooter. I don't want to pay 60 bucks for something to have a character or a menu pop up to 'helpfully' remind me I can buy more ammo and guns (Or all the quests they cut out).

And even if games are cheaper now than before, that still doesn't change the fact they're very expensive. Games are cheaper, but gas, rent, and textbooks are more expensive then ever. So yeah, I can say Scum Bag EA for shoving micro-transactions in my face after shelling out full price for a game. And I can say Good Guy Valve for always making quality games (Even if they take a while), not nickle-and-diming-me (Although these days it's more like five-and-ten-dollaring me) and constantly doing sales and allowing me to keep my hobby at all.

EA doesn't make games, they are a publisher so "if you don't like them just don't buy *their games*" is a pretty retarded thing to say.
Also are we equalizing buying a full price single player game that also has microtransactions on top of all the DLC forms currently existing with a game that is free and has received a ton of free updates and care over many years that also happens to have microtransactions now?

Yeah, if we do that now and we squint our eyes really hard, what EA does is totally the same thing valve does.

The difference between Valve and EA is that Valve is only selling you shiny stuff that has no impact on the game. All those hats and guns in TF2 don't give you any advantage. And you can acquire most of them with random drops through gameplay alone. They're just cosmetics when you think about it. I would have no problem if EA did the same.

But no. EA is selling integral parts of the game as DLC. They will almost certainly do that with microtransactions. From Ashes DLC for Mass Effect 3 is a HUGE addition to the game. It should have been there to begin with. The game doesn't feel complete without it. And it isn't. I have no problem with EA using microtransactions model in their multiplayer games if those microtransactions don't end up being pay-to-win. But if they are, and on top of that they sneak microtransactions in single player games (and they will) that's where I draw the line. That's where EA definitely is the bad guy.

There's nothing wrong with Microtransactions in and of themselves. Putting them with a fully priced game, however? Seems slightly different. And the engagement ring is essentially just an appearance thing; all of the things that can actually affect the game are a dollar or two last I checked.

I already don't buy EA games, now all their pc games require origin and I don't trust ea with content they have pretty much complete control over.

The problem with "voting with your dollars" is that its easy to take away the wrong lesson from something. Brutal Legend was a commercial failure and the lesson that ea probably took away from that was that it wasn't enough like cod.

Steven Bogos:
Cliff Bleszinski is tired of EA being seen as "the bad guy," while Valve can "do no wrong."

Well I'M tired of EA BEING the bad guy, so we're even Cliffy.

Adam Jensen:
But if they are, and on top of that they sneak microtransactions in single player games (and they will) that's where I draw the line. That's where EA definitely is the bad guy.

Sneak? They recently announced that every game they publish from now on will have microtransactions.

That's right developers, EA has thrown down the gauntlet and said that if you want them to publish your game you better be ready to shoehorn in some microtransactions.

Dear CliffyB,

If your statement has me defending Valve/Steam, you've screwed the pooch royally.

Sincerely,

Zachary Amaranth.

Well I think we can all agree with one thing.
"Yes, guys, I hate to break it to you, as awesome as Valve is they're also a company that seeks to make as much money as possible. They're just way better at their image control."

EA really does have an awful marketing department.

Way too defender for EA don't you think ? Please remind me,is he independent or does he work for EA ?

Well aside that thing I noticed,regarding micro-transactions my opinion is the following:

I just don't like it. It isn't satisfactory. I don't say its evil,I don't care if its evil,its just not convenient and satisfactory for me,a simple costumer. When I buy something I want to know that I buy a COMPLETE,FULL,WORKING product.
I don't want to buy incomplete things and then get confused trying to see what my product is missing and what I should or not buy additionally to make my product be full and complete.
This is trickery against the costumer. Lying to him that he gets a full product by paying a full price,and then telling him that there are all these things that the product he got is missing to be complete. I don't want to get fooled,I'm sorry. My I.Q. isn't 60.

And honestly,what EA does with DLCs is ridiculous. 5-6 Day 1 DLCs for a game ? Integral parts of the game missing to be sold separately ? No,this is not good or convenient for the costumer. It's more like embezzlement.
Perhaps EA should do something different. And start publishing 2 different versions of each game they release.
One will be a "essential code" version,that only includes a limited running code for the game to get to the title screen and some basic gameplay,and another "complete code" version,where all the stuff the game should have to be complete,are inside.

But of course its EA we talk about. The publisher that forbids single player only games and demand from developers to tack on multiplayer on games that doesn't need it. It's the publisher that would kill forever games like The Elder Scrolls,Witcher,Super Mario,Zelda,Dishonored,etc just because they are single player games.
As a great lover and fan of single player games,I confess that I completely disagree and hate the way EA is thinking.
They want to doom games that I enjoy. They want to kill gaming as I know it,and turn it to something that I will not have fun with,basically make me to loose my interest in my favorite hobby. Sure a paid by EA guy can tell whatever he wants to defend those who pay his bills. But I,as a gamer and consumer,doesn't like the way EA has been thinking,doesn't like their attitude,doesn't like their decisions. Why ? Not because I'm a fanatic hater or something. Simply because I realize that EA is trying to kill what gives fun out of playing games.

Yeah, it's not like it's in his self interest that we happily accept the microtransaction models at all. The solution is not to add these microtransactions to help offset the ridiculously bloated development budgets of modern games. The solution is to stop bloating the budgets of games to give us the best graphics and to instead just deliver a good, complete game.

I can not possibly emphasize the word complete enough in text.

Jamous:
There's nothing wrong with Microtransactions in and of themselves. Putting them with a fully priced game, however? Seems slightly different. And the engagement ring is essentially just an appearance thing; all of the things that can actually affect the game are a dollar or two last I checked.

Actually, the ring is not a cosmetic item at all. It can not be seen on the character that you put it on, ever. There isn't even a model for it in the game as far as I know. I like how Valve do their cosmetic item thing but that ring is garbage.

All it does is pop up a message to bug everyone in the world currently playing the game when someone accepts it. After that it has no function.

Zachary Amaranth:
Dear CliffyB,

If your statement has me defending Valve/Steam, you've screwed the pooch royally.

Sincerely,

Zachary Amaranth.

I'll have to second that.

Much as I hate Valve and Steam, they're the slightly less bad guys here.

I've been sick and tired with Cliffy B (just saying that makes me puke a little) for a very, very long time. And funnily enough, I'm still sick of him and his absent-minded horse shit. Only good thing about it is that 95% of the people reading this crap detest the man and understand that what he's saying is just pointless noise, making his entire existence essentially meaningless. Which, let's face it is probably the single worst fate to be shackled with, knowing the majority of the things you do have no purchase or impact on the world around you, despite the fact you're basically a house-hold name in the community you associate with.

TL;DR Fuck Cliff Blezinski and everything he is.

CliffyB:
the videogame industry is just that: an industry, and when a videogame company is trading on the stock market, its bottom line is making enough money to keep the shareholders happy

See, when it's more important to keep your shareholders happy than your customers, the entertainment industry just might not be the right place for you anymore.

Items in a free to play game that does not affect gameplay in any way may cost whatever. Even $1000. It's basically asking for a donation.
Cliffy B. is full of shit. Like anyone consciously supporting Microsoft or EA.
Slave traders needed to make money. And a lot of people worked in that industry. Does that make them not evil?

Valve isn't charging $60 for TF2 along with a $10 online pass. You can also get most of the items from TF2 by just playing the game. And any crates you don't want you can sell for real money on the Steam market. Also, where were you when people flipped their shit when Valve implemented the hat store?

But you're right. EA is not the bad guy. They are losing money and doing all they can to stop it. The problem is that their primary business model is broken, and they're trying to stop losing so much by pushing their old business model even harder. Until their core model changes, they'll keep losing money. John Riccitiello even said, six years ago, that $60 for games was too expensive. He said they would have to change in the next five years, or be left behind. It's been six years, EA now has their own store where they can charge any amount of money they want, and they still charge $60 for games. And now EA is being left behind.

They're not the only ones in the industry who think $60 is too expensive these days either. Yet nobody is willing to change. The AAA market is broken at its core. It requires huge, bloated budgets which in turn require ridiculous amounts of sales to break even. That's a busted model, and it needs to change. Putting in online passes or season passes or micro-transactions will not fix it. At most it'll just delay the inevitable.

Everybody on this thread has pretty much said everything that needs to be said already.

All I can add is that a guy who once said that he'd like to have his licence plate on is car as "D Nozzle" (short for douche nozzle), is not the kind of person who should be giving out advice on people's opinions.

The reason Valve gets away with it because they sell novelty items, stuff that isn't particularly helpful, just stuff that's sort of neat.

EA's way of doing it on the other hand come across as trying to grab as much money out of people's wallets as quick as they can. So long as EA keeps treating their customers as money harvesters instead of actual people, they'll be seen as the bad guy.

Jeez Cliffy, since you love EA so much why don't you drop that 100 bux and ask it to freaking marry you.

I swear...

I agree with Cliffy B that Microtransaction shouldn't be a dirty word and it will take time for Origins to get better and we the gamers have to vote with out wallets if want anything to change in the gaming industry.

I don't know if I find the man's ignorance amusing, infuriating or just saddening. Tell me, Mr. Blezinski, has the thought ever occurred to you people do like and even love the games published by EA? Has it ever occurred to you that they despise having strings attached to a product they have all ready purchased for full price? Has it ever occurred to you that people, as Jim Sterling once put it, love their games as games, but hate them as products? Have you once thought about any of these things, Cliff, you detestable troglodyte.

Cliff Bleszinski is tired of EA being seen as "the bad guy," while Valve can "do no wrong."

Well you have to admit their is a certian hap hazard logic to that conclusion.

Oh boy here we go, the CliffyB hate is coming back in full force.

Yeah, sure the games industry is there to make money, but something that Cliffy seems to have forgotten is that a key component in any industry is customer service.

Customer confidence is a very delicate thing to handle, and if your consumer base feel they are being sh@t on, taken for granted and/or being taken advantage of, then you're doing something seriously wrong.

Valve include microtransactions in Team Fortress 2, a move that's perfectly justifiable in a game that's free-to-play, and don't generally intrude into the core game itself. EA putting microtransactions into a game that you've already spent $60/£40 on just looks like a massive middle finger from the publisher, and feels like a little goblin sitting on your shoulder throughout the game, periodically poking you in the side of the face.

Yes, I can try to ignore it, but it's still there. And it still bothers me.

That's the difference between EA and Valve.

Valve has done wrong. But they learned from their mistakes, got better, and stopped doing wrong, which is why we love them. EA did wrong, then continued to do wrong, and will likely continue to do wrong until time stops, which is why we love to hate them. Get over yourself Cliff Bleszinski. If you are defending them on the basis that someone else has screwed up in the past, then you must realize, on some deep primordial level, that EA is screwing up RIGHT NOW.

Get off the soap boxes... said the man firmly placed on his.

He has a point to some degree, but when you go out just to argue the arguing instead of addressing the problem it all gets lost on meaningless finger pointing.
The core problem of microtransactions is price vs content, if you broke down a triple A game into the tiny parts these guys sell you at $5 each the sum of it all would end up at over a grand, heck one might not even be enough.

So...I'm guessing the Bleszinski x Sterling wedding is off?

I want to like this guy. I really do, but this shit keeps happening and it's making things really difficult. Valve's microtransactions aren't standing between the consumer and a full product. TF2 also ain't $60 and a lot of Valve's DLC is free (well, Portal 2's are at least if you don't count the hats).

Cliffy is a bit of an idiot isnt he?

a free to play multiplayer shooter is a bit different than a story focused single player game that costs 60 dollars new and 10 dollar online pass used.

If he cant see the difference he is more of a retard than I thought.

Only thing that I can say is Cliff will get much more support from this site after his claim

WRONG!! If Valve pulled this microtrasaction bullshit I'd be condemning them just as much as I'm now condemning EA. The difference is that EA is infamous for this kind of bullshit and Valve isn't. At least not to my knowledge anyway.

Videogames can cost upwards of $100 million to make and market, says Bleszinski

And whose fault is that? Well actually probably equal parts the gamer's fault and the industry's fault. All I know is I didn't ask for the excessive focus on graphics technology that led to that.

"EA has many smart people working for them ... and they wouldn't attempt these things if they didn't work. Turns out, they do," says Bleszinski, mirroring comments from EA that gamers actually enjoy microtransactions.

Yeah, it seems far to many gamers don't have brains in their heads or just don't care 'cause if they did they'd avoid these microtransactions like the plague, at least the ones in $60 games anyway.

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