CliffyB: Microsoft Tried to "Have it Both Ways"

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CliffyB: Microsoft Tried to "Have it Both Ways"

cliff bleszinski

Cliff Bleszinski believes "something's got to change" in the way games are sold.

While many applauded Sony and the PlayStation 4 for its affirmation of support for used games and established consumer practices, not everyone praised the move. Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski, the creator of Gears of War, came out strongly against Sony and the PS4, warning gamers that they were being "played" and affirming his belief that the changes the Xbox One would bring to used games might be a necessity for AAA titles to survive.

Now, with Microsoft reversing its used games and always online polices for the Xbox One, Bleszinski has again expressed his opinion on matters in a (long) post on his blog. While offering few kind words for the "internet pitchfork mob who can only see 6 inches in front of their face," he isn't without criticism for Microsoft. "Microsoft tried to and ultimately couldn't have it both ways," said Bleszinski. "You can't still have discs and then expect everyone to embrace digital. And, fundamentally, if you take something away that a consumer has been used to without some seriously smooth handling they're naturally going to get upset." He also "admits" that the Xbox One's once a day online check-ins were a bad idea. "Customers can smell from a mile away when you're treating them like children, peeking your head into their bedroom on a regular basis in an attempt to catch them doing something."

Despite this, Bleszinski still believes that current practices in the used game market are a problem. "When I see studio after studio closing and the aforementioned alluded titles failing I know something's got to change." The changes Bleszinski sees happening lie largely in the realm of digital sales. "So here's what's going to happen now that Microsoft has largely matched Sony's (well played) move at E3," said Bleszinski. "The shift to digital is still going to happen (FOR BOTH) but it's going to be slow and subtle. Suddenly more DLC will be made available. More microstransactions will appear. And Day One Digital will (hopefully) be cheaper and will have so many added bells and whistles that consumers (with reliable enough bandwidth) will have a hard time refusing the tasty downloadable edition over the disc based one." Considering the increasing prominence of digital game sales, this is a case where Bleszinski may be right.

Source: Clifford Unchained

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"When I see studio after studio closing and the aforementioned alluded titles failing I know something's got to change."

The development costs and the prices that the consumer is expected to pay. That's what has got to change.

and affirming his belief that the changes the Xbox One would bring to used games might be a necessity for AAA titles to survive.

I was unaware that the Xbone war going to drop development costs and stop the companies from wasting money.

I think it's likely to happen that way too. It's probably better to do it slowly anyway, than force changes on people, which they aren't really sure about. I don't care either way, since I'm sticking with PC for now.

Day One Digital will (hopefully) be
cheaper and will have so many added bells and whistles that consumers (with reliable enough bandwidth) will have a hard time refusing the tasty downloadable edition over the disc based one."

So maybe he does understand how this should work? this is how Sony and Microsoft should be handling used sales, by fucking competing. Not bullshit DRM schemes. It's clear "Cliffy B" was hoping Microsoft would get away with their DRM so AAA devs like him wouldn't have lower any prices

I wouldn't mind paying a higher price for physical games so long they're still offered. Otherwise, I'd just use a pc for my gaming

MasterOfHisOwnDomain:

"When I see studio after studio closing and the aforementioned alluded titles failing I know something's got to change."

The development costs and the prices that the consumer is expected to pay. That's what has got to change.

Exactly! They're wasting millions in marketing and huge development teams to shorten development times. At the same time as soon as the focus goes "broad audience" you can see that in most cases there is absolutely no real challenge in the game and the mechanics are just downright insulting to real gamers.

And no 50 Million marketing budgets are not necessary to market a game for "gamers". Real gamers read about new developments themselves and are going to buy good and interesting games.

why is this proffessional troll even allowed to say anything. that asshole of a jackass fails to see this: we do not budget their games, we are not responsible for their shit turning a profit. i never asked for constant tripple aaa whatever that even means nowadays.
Hey cliffy:
you can make good games without bancrupting yourself you overly inflated sack of fartgas.

As far as digital dsitribution goes: NO SHIT, DUMBASS!!!

Am I the only one left on the planet who likes physical media? I'm proud to look at my bookshelves full of games dating all the way back to the NES and when my friends bring their kindles over and say "look I've got like 100 books on this thing" it seems so lame.

MasterOfHisOwnDomain:

"When I see studio after studio closing and the aforementioned alluded titles failing I know something's got to change."

The development costs and the prices that the consumer is expected to pay. That's what has got to change.

But then who will buy Unreal Engine 4? All Cliffy's old friends will starve!

Digital is coming, there is no doubt about it and in the next or the gen after that it will be full blown digital. Thing is Ms tried to be so future proof, it wasn't "present proof" it tried to do too much too soon.

I don't think gamers will ever want some of the things proposed by MS, I should be able to play my game without kinect and I should be able to play my games without a phone home every day.

They had some good ideas but they were too restrictive, sharing the game with family should be more than a demo, you should be able to trade a game more than once etc.

Captcha: "I'm a captcha!" ... It knows ...!

MasterOfHisOwnDomain:

"When I see studio after studio closing and the aforementioned alluded titles failing I know something's got to change."

The development costs and the prices that the consumer is expected to pay. That's what has got to change.

you could make a film for a billion dollars...

you could...

but they don't.

the whole "development costs masses and masses of money" thing is rank bullshit.

when was the last time anyone pointed out the software tools that make the task easier advance at exactly the same pace as the product ? oh that's right never...

half the supposed game "devs" nowadays have never seen so much as a line of C++ because they don't have to and yet still the line is spun about how hard and costly it is to put a game together...on a prebuilt 3rd party engine most of the time...using APIs and industry standard modelling and art programs half the people on this site are probably familiar with...

load. of. fucking. crap.

according to Activision Modern Warfare 3 (for example) cost $40-$50 million to make but that was probably a lie and industry analysts put the real development costs closer to around 20. it easily brought in over 600 million...but Activision spent between 100-200 million (of the games "budget") on "marketing" ^^

its not the "dev costs" (or the profits generated at the point of sale) that are the problem.

if it were companies like CD Projekt or Runic simply wouldn't be able to "come from nowhere" and make a "AAA quality" game would they ?

no, if "dev costs" where a real problem the only people who could possibly make game would be the huge pre existing publishers which simply isn't reality...much as they might like it to be.

edit - i said MW2 instead of 3. doh!

"internet pitchfork mob who can only see 6 inches in front of their face,"

Yeah, because consumers being vocal and giving a company feedback after reading up on the product is obviously an ignorant move.

Also, since you're a game dev and most of the "internet mob" complaining about the Xbone's policies are gamers, I'd like to congratulate you on insulting your entire customer base.

"When I see studio after studio closing and the aforementioned alluded titles failing I know something's got to change."

How about they try to maximize cost efficiency and not end up spending millions to make and market said titles?

"Suddenly more DLC will be made available. More microstransactions will appear. And Day One Digital will (hopefully) be cheaper and will have so many added bells and whistles that consumers (with reliable enough bandwidth) will have a hard time refusing the tasty downloadable edition over the disc based one."

OK let's break this down:
DLC: More map, weapon, armor, appearance, etc. packs. Shorter games because levels or other parts of the game were cut for DLC. It's happened before, it'll happen again.
Microtransactions: Pay-to-Win and skinner boxes. 'nuff said.
"Day One digital will hopefully be cheaper and will have so many added bells and whistles": Let's be honest, it won't. Those bells and whistles could be sold as DLC or as microtransactions. What route do you think a company will take: the path where they cater to the consumer or the path where the company earns more money for the same amount of content?

Maybe I'm just a suspicious, cynical person, but I don't see this vision as a good one.

Or perhaps, god forbid, developers and publishers give up on the graphical and online features arms race and refocus on things like better level design and something other than a half-baked story?

No no, you're right Cliffy, this is of course the only reasonable "solution". There isn't anything wrong with continually increasing development (marketing) costs. This won't inevitably lead to a brick wall where you price out most of those oh so desired casual gamers. Fuck those poor people, why would they even choose to be poor anyway. Must be idiots.

Seriously now, Cliffy is either just being a shill or he's a damn hypocrite who can only see 6 inches in front of him. Development costs, used games, and industry "problems" aside a moment, the gradual erosion of consumer's rights and ownership is a serious problem that is becoming more prevalent outside the industry as well and that is going to effect everyone for the worst.

This is irresponsible at best, creepy at worst.

Sleekit:

MasterOfHisOwnDomain:

"When I see studio after studio closing and the aforementioned alluded titles failing I know something's got to change."

The development costs and the prices that the consumer is expected to pay. That's what has got to change.

you could make a film for a billion dollars...

you could...

but they don't.

the whole "development costs masses and masses of money" thing is rank bullshit.

when was the last time anyone pointed out the software tools that make the task easier advance at exactly the same pace as the product ? oh that's right never...

have the "Devs" nowadays have never seen a line of C++ because they don't have to and yet still the line is spun about how hard and costly it is to put a game together...on a prebuilt 3rd party engine most of the time...using APIs and industry standard modelling and art programs half the people on this site are probably familiar with...

load. of. fucking. crap.

according to Activision Modern Warfare 2 cost $40-$50 million but that's probably a lie and industry analysts put the real development costs closer to just 20. it brought in over 600 million...but Activision spent between 100-200 million (of the games "budget") on "marketing" ^^

its not the dev costs that are the problem.

if it were companies like CD project simply wouldn't be able to "come from nowhere" and make a AAA standard game would they ? no. if dev costs where a real problem the only people who could possibly make game would be the huge pre existing publishers which simply isn't reality...much as they might like it to be.

Don't forget about the Metro series either just 'coming out of nowhere'.

Really looking forward to Kickstarter AAA releases coming out and if they're successful we might see a Renaissance in the gaming industry. Stuff like The Banner Saga, Wasteland 2 and Star Citizen could have a meta effect on the gaming industry for years to come.

Bix96:
Am I the only one left on the planet who likes physical media? I'm proud to look at my bookshelves full of games dating all the way back to the NES and when my friends bring their kindles over and say "look I've got like 100 books on this thing" it seems so lame.

If there is a neat collectors edition I'll grab it physically, but other than that no, not really. I have transitioned fully to digital media, from books to games, i even burned all my dvds to my hard drive and run it through a media player to my TV. It prolly has something to do with my dislike for clutter and my requirement for everything to be tidy and neat. That's just personal preference though.

OT: Yea things are going to move to digital distribution, maybe completely one day, but even now moves are being made to allow digital game sharing, and with enough of that going around it will still be hard for the corporate man to squeeze every possible penny from it's customers. Plus if microsoft and sony want to stay relevent in that department they will have to go against the digital giants Steam and GoG, which means having good sales and quick price cuts on new games. I think there are a few things Cliff "Douchebag" Bleszinski hasn't considered when blowing shit from his ass.

No Clifford, what's got to change is the absolutely ridiculous budgets of AAA games and the idea that every game must cost $60. When games are selling 3 million copies in a month but are still deemed failures, then there's something fundamentally wrong with the way games are being made. Games don't need huge budgets and jaw dropping graphics to succeed, this has been proven time and time again with games like Dark Souls and the seemingly never ending wealth of awesome indie content.

For once why don't AAA publishers take some fucking responsibility for their own self destructive actions instead of blaming everyone else and screwing the consumer over? The current AAA situation is simply unsustainable and if this carries on I don't forsee anything other than some rather large ships sinking.

"...Day One Digital will (hopefully) be cheaper and will have so many added bells and whistles that consumers (with reliable enough bandwidth) will have a hard time refusing the tasty downloadable edition over the disc based one.

Except Jim already covered why Publishers are afraid to make digital cheaper than disc - the fear of reprisal that will come about as a result of undercutting/undermining retailers such as gamestop. According to Jim, there is still too much money being made from Brick & Mortar sales for publishers to ignore. They're depending on gamestop etc to take preorders, sell consoles, and digital copies. They're not going to risk gamestop ordering less titles due to more enticing digital day one sales overshadowing them

After the last article quoting Cliffy B., Why the hell are we still giving this dude the time of day?

Digital only sales will only be feasible when the entire world has fast reliable internet. Expecting everbody to be able to download a couple of gigabytes at a time is simply stupid. Insulting people when they don't agree with you isn't the smartest idea in the world either.

Bix96:
Am I the only one left on the planet who likes physical media? I'm proud to look at my bookshelves full of games dating all the way back to the NES and when my friends bring their kindles over and say "look I've got like 100 books on this thing" it seems so lame.

Agreed.
Nothing makes me more excited than holding the Okami box art package and seeing the IGN watermark on it.
You can say that you OWN this game. Even write your name on the back.
The same cannot be said for digital games.

So which is it Cliffy? Last week you were praising the Xbone as a godsend, and decrying Sony for not following suit. Now that M$ did a 180, you say their policies weren't the best and it's a good thing it's not forcing matters.

Dragonbums:
After the last article quoting Cliffy B., Why the hell are we still giving this dude the time of day?

Yeah, not even worth it anymore. Everytime, what a load of hot air.

I don't think used games are as big of a problem for the industry as they make it out to be. It's just the easiest 'problem' for them to point to. If used IP were an issue, both the movie industry and publishing industry would've sunk years ago (and admittedly, piracy is a problem, but that doesn't mean libraries have been run out of town).

The problem with failing studios isn't with used games. Just like the problem with failing car companies isn't used cars. It's about whether the product is good enough to justify the cost. You can see this in the cost of used games. Really bad games that are resold at high frequency will be cheaper than a fast food meal. Really good games that most people hold onto are nearly as expensive as brand new games.

Really good games that were put out years ago will even get brand new sales years later. I know I bought Okami HD for $20. Same thing happens for movies: a great movie from 20 years ago gets rereleased on Blu-Ray, gets brand new sales.

To be fair, we often hold onto movies and books because we return to experience the comforting familiarity of what we love. Games often rely on novel experiences to be interesting. But if that's all a game has, then it's easy to resell it. The handful of games I would never resell don't rely on the novel (think COD's nuke moment). I want to return to them over and over again for the sheer fun of the game, not because the game has pre-rendered cut-scenes or a shocking twist. I want fun, or humor, or beauty or, if nothing else, gameplay that isn't going to play out exactly the same way every time I play (again, think of COD and the linear battles of single player).

Dragonbums:
After the last article quoting Cliffy B., Why the hell are we still giving this dude the time of day?

y'know creating gears of war isn't really something that deserves vast amounts of kudos let alone treatment as some kind of svengali (and unreal tournament, great as it was, was a distilment).

or make games that nobody wants to resell. I can't understand why he hates used gaming, but at the same time, was all for the share function that would maybe allow 10 people to use one copy of a game. and if the old situation causes so many problems, why do we still have an industry? used games have been there from day one.

Until game download speeds are fast enough to where they can beam a PS3 title straight into the console, it's still faster just to drive to the store and buy it. Infamous took me over 24 hours to download (on a fast connection). That means if I had downloaded it the day it came out, I'd be playing it a day late. I picked up Bioshock Infinite at the store the day it was released and was playing it 10 minutes later when I got home.

Question: Why are we bothering with this guy? We know he is an idiot.
Can we agree to just ignore him?

Ha! Why are we listening to the guy who's claim to fame is strapping a chainsaw on a gun and creating one of the worst of the dudebro franchises in gaming? Cuz he's obviously the source for all things rational in gaming? I Think Not!

Each and every time I read something CliffyB has said/posted I think how out of touch can one person get followed by ponce. See here's the thing, Devs/pubs/MS/etc cannot have their cake and eat it too. They can't charge $60 for a game, cry foul that they didn't sell enough copies of their games when most are publically traded companies that release annual budgets/p&l statements and people see they spent 200 million to market said game. It's fairly simple for people to look into their financial health and see these companies are the authors of their own problems.

I swear it's like almost the entire gaming industry has forgotten what it means to be fiscally responsible with their companies AND how to treat their customers. FFS! One does not blame their customer(s) for bad business decisions.

Sleekit:
you could make a film for a billion dollars...

you could...

but they don't.

the whole "development costs masses and masses of money" thing is rank bullshit.

when was the last time anyone pointed out the software tools that make the task easier advance at exactly the same pace as the product ? oh that's right never...

half the supposed game "devs" nowadays have never seen so much as a line of C++ because they don't have to and yet still the line is spun about how hard and costly it is to put a game together...on a prebuilt 3rd party engine most of the time...using APIs and industry standard modelling and art programs half the people on this site are probably familiar with...

load. of. fucking. crap.

according to Activision Modern Warfare 2 (for example) cost $40-$50 million to make but that was probably a lie and industry analysts put the real development costs closer to around 20. it easily brought in over 600 million...but Activision spent between 100-200 million (of the games "budget") on "marketing" ^^

its not the "dev costs" (or the profits generated at the point of sale) that are the problem.

if it were companies like CD Projekt or Runic simply wouldn't be able to "come from nowhere" and make a "AAA quality" game would they ?

no, if "dev costs" where a real problem the only people who could possibly make game would be the huge pre existing publishers which simply isn't reality...much as they might like it to be.

I think you misunderstand the issue. The problem isn't that development of AAA games has to cost a lot of money, but that many publishers choose to spend a lot of money while paying no heed to how much the game will probably actually sell.

Companies like EA are so hell bent on making games that are the new COD in terms of sales that they'll do things like make Dead Space 3 for a cost that requires it to sell 5 million copies to be profitable. A sales level that neither of the first two Dead Space games ever got close enough to so much as spit at. Same goes for the recent Tomb Raider game which needed to sell 5 million copies to be a financial success. It actually sold around 3 million and was considered a market failure because it was so expensive to develop. But it also sold a lot more copies than any Tomb Raider game ever.

The reason that companies like CD Projekt Red, or From Software with Dark Souls, can make what are essentially great AAA quality games without breaking their budget and failing to turn a profit is that they are under no illusions about how much their games are going to sell. They aren't chasing COD sales and spending like they're realistically possible. They know they won't sell that much, so they develop games more smartly and leaner on budget, and as a result, when they sell 2 million copies instead of 5 million, they're perfectly happy.

The Xbone wasn't going to do anything to address the fundamental idiocy with which most major publishers and developers manage their business. It wasn't going to stop them from chasing some pie in the sky sales number that they pulled out of their ass.

Shocker, Cliffy B wants something that is much better for business rather than the consumer. Well, you're allowed your opinion Clifford, but equally as well we're allowed to tell you to go fuck yourself for it.

Why do discs stop digital distribution? I am a PC gamer yet I buy all retail :P . I like boxes. And if you want a copy of your game:
1. Get it whilst its cheap on your online retailer
2. Buy a box
3. Print awesome custom box art.
4. IF (and it probably does not) it has a good manual, print it too. Most dont though, so 98% of the time this step can be forgotten :P
5. Profit.

The industry has a strange habit of blaming the consumer for it's own shortcomings.

Dear Cliffy.B

You do not have a god given right to my money. I will always try and get the best deal. If your budget was too high to make money from selling over a million units that's not my problem. It's 100% yours.

If your business model is broken your shouldn't punish the consumer to prop it up. Not buying a game new for 45 is not a crime, it's unsustainable. Especially when bluray movies cost 10-15. The film industry does not complain about used sales. Why does the game industry?

Kindly eat a dick

Scrumpmonkey

Are used games the cause of the games industry's problems? Or are they a symptom?

Perhaps the industry should take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Scrumpmonkey:
The industry has a strange habit of blaming the consumer for it's own shortcomings.

Agreed. We are the customer. We do not serve you, nor will we be held responsible for your problems. If someone in just about every sector I can think of treated their customers like you do, you'd be out of a job by the end of the day.

I bet Cliffy B is taking it both ways from Microsoft. HIIIYOOOOO. Can I get a high five? *hand up*

The problem is that microsoft went about things totally the wrong way. As usual in the console world they wont fully commit to anything. What they should have done is quite simple.

-Fully digital distribution
-Once game is downloaded you can play it offline if you need to, if you are online just check in when you launch it.
-only allow you to play the came if you are logged into the account that purchased it.
- Allow a flexible pricing model for different types of games not every game has to cost millions to make and sell for 40

This is also known as the "do what steam does method"

The problem you have is if there is no competition then the price can be as high as they can get away with, this is the problem origin has. This could be solved by developers selling keys to multiple sources as well as microsoft like greenman gaming or retail.

In fact just put steam on a console.

Oh wait they did but it was crap.

Ok put steam on a GOOD console

There done.

EDIT

On used games, they are a symptom of an industry that is just about ready to crash, stop selling games that last for 6 hours and are shit for 40, stop spending millions and millions trying to clone call of duty and expect the same return, and finally make games people want to keep, last time i looked all of the PS1 final fantasy games and resident evil games are sitting on my shelf right now and i have played through them all multiple times.

Bix96:
Am I the only one left on the planet who likes physical media? I'm proud to look at my bookshelves full of games dating all the way back to the NES and when my friends bring their kindles over and say "look I've got like 100 books on this thing" it seems so lame.

Exactly. If consoles got rid of physical media then there would be practically no benefits over pc. I like digital media for books and movies but for games I only buy digital when it's convenient. I'd much rather have a library that can bought, sold, and traded and it means I play any game on whim because I won't have to deal with downloading like 10 gigs onto my hard drive (barring game installs). I'll be depressed if the gen after this loses physical games

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