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Cliffy B

Used games and 'AAA' games are incompatible? Good!

Jun 13 // Jim Sterling
What really infuriates me about the used game debate is that, when people bring up the stratospheric development and marketing costs, it's treated as though they are noble endeavors, too sacred to be compromised. Rather than ask the question, "Do games need to be this expensive to make?" the question instead becomes, "How can we squeeze more money to keep making very expensive games?" Why are people like Cliffy B simply accepting the absolutely ridiculous high price of game development as immutable fact, quickly moving on to blame something else instead of examining the problem at its source? In a good business, the answer to something being too expensive to produce would be to, y'know, make it fucking cheaper to produce. Videogame consoles do this over time -- parts become less costly to manufacture, more efficient to put together. You'll find, with some of the most successful videogames on the market, the same is also very true. It's just that nobody will admit it.  Look at Call of Duty. Arguably the biggest of the big when it comes to gaming. A veritable powerhouse of profit that tends to be the biggest selling title of any given year. Yet, visually, it's always a step behind its peers. Infinity Ward and Treyarch have successfully mined years of cash out of the same game engine this entire generation, producing games noticeable less graphically intense than the competition, yet trouncing the pretenders at market every single bloody time. Even its "next-gen" title, Call of Duty: Ghosts, is running off an enhanced version of the same old engine, and I bet it turns a very healthy profit regardless.  Then we have the PC. A platform famed for being able to produce better graphics than the Xbox 360 and PS3 ever could, and yet let's look at some of its biggest success stories. Minecraft. Terraria. Hell, Valve and its antique Source Engine seem to be doing just fine, producing games people are absolutely excited for and love to play, despite being nowhere near as expensive to produce or graphically shiny as the Battlefields and the Tomb Raiders of the world.  Even outside of more basic looking games and older engines, we have evidence of smaller teams producing utterly gorgeous games without breaking the bank. I point you to the drop-dead beautiful Metro: Last Light, a game now famous for stunning visuals and an impeccable production value. 4A Games is a humble developer from Kiev, and produced a game that looked as amazing as it did without needing to sell five million copies to survive.  And that's where we come round to the biggest issues facing mainstream game development -- used games and rentals have absolutely bloody nothing to do with the fact that game development is possessed of such total excess that you can't even succeed with millions upon millions of sales under your belt. I utterly defy you to convince me Resident Evil 6 nearly selling six million copies yet still failing to meet expectations could be blamed upon the used game market. When you're selling that much, and still failing to make investors happy, something is fundamentally wrong with the process of videogame production itself, not the imaginary dragons of used games and game rentals that are conjured up as quick and easy scapegoats.  If so-called "AAA" games and the used market actually are incompatible, then I say that's a good friggin' thing. Anything to dispossesses publishers of the notion that they need to keep dumping truckloads of cash into games to the point where they need to sell more copies than the laws of reality allow. Despite what demagogues and mouthpieces will tell you, the market is not demanding all its games be so expensive to produce. As I've said before, the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Wii would not have dominated their respective generations if the market put graphics over everything else. People want good games, not these overproduced, pompous, unsustainable exercises in wanton overspending.  It's not our fault games have gotten so expensive, and I resent the implication that it is. The fact this industry seems utterly fucking incapable of taking some damn responsibility for itself continues to disgust me, and I refuse to shoulder the blame for companies that cannot demonstrate one iota of self-reflection. If something you're doing is not working, change what you're doing! Stop trying to bend and break the world around you to try and manufacture an environment where your failed tactics could achieve some perverse form of success.  "You cannot have game and marketing budgets this high while also having used and rental games existing," says Cliff Bleszinski.  "Good," says I. I'll take the used games and rentals. Let the videogame equivalent of inbred aristocracies wither and fucking rot.
Used games vs. AAA photo
Publishers overestimate their necessity
Game developer Cliff Bleszinski has never been a fan of the used game market, and he's made his feelings on the Xbox One and PS4 policies quite clear -- he supports Microsoft's decision to "redefine" the concept of videogame ...

Oculus Rift and Unreal 4 photo
Oculus Rift and Unreal 4

Unreal Engine 4 will support Oculus Rift

Virtual reality made easy
Jun 06
// Joshua Derocher
The Oculus Rift is the latest rage with all the cool tech kids these days, and the future looks bright for this virtual-reality headset. The Unreal Engine 4 will be able to take full advantage of the headset with support buil...
Cliffy B photo
Cliffy B

Cliffy B invested in Oculus Rift, cautious about next gen

still waiting for attention from Nintendo
May 11
// Jonathan Holmes
In recent interview with Engadget, former Gears of War honcho Cliff Bleszinski caught us up with his current projects, which entail talking about videogames, investing in Oculus Rift, and... playing Candy Crunch. It's a puzzl...
Cliffy B photo
Cliffy B

Cliff Bleszinski goes bald for charity

Around $15,000 raised
Apr 15
// Harry Monogenis
Sticking to the promise he made several days ago, designer Cliff Bleszinski has gone ahead and had his hair shaved off in the name of charity. The former design director for Epic Games raised some $15,000 that will be going ...

On Cliffy B, microtransactions, and Electronic Arts

Mar 01 // Jim Sterling
"Making money and running a business is not inherently evil. It creates jobs and growth and puts food on the table. This country was built on entrepreneurship. Yes, there are obvious issues around basic business ethics (Google “Pinto Fires”) and the need for a company to give back to its’ community, but that’s not what this blog is about right now." On this point, Bleszinski is perfectly correct. Making money is not inherently evil. It is not, however, inherently good either. The argument that companies exist to make money is brought up by many people when a company is criticized, but making money is not a noble enough endeavor to render it immune to criticism. This is an argument I've already made in a video on the subject, but the short story is, yes, a company might be out to make money -- but I think we all have a right to express disapproval at the way a company goes about making it.  For Bleszinski, that disapproval can only come in the form of your purchasing habits.  "If you don’t like EA, don’t buy their games," he said. "If you don’t like their microtransactions, don’t spend money on them. It’s that simple. EA has many smart people working for them (Hi, Frank, JR, and Patrick!) and they wouldn’t attempt these things if they didn’t work. Turns out, they do. I assure you there are teams of analysts studying the numbers behind consumer behavior over there that are studying how you, the gamer, spends his hard earned cash. "... Every single developer out there is trying to solve the mystery of this new model. Every console game MUST have a steady stream of DLC because, otherwise, guess what? It becomes traded in, or it’s just rented. In the console space you need to do anything to make sure that that disc stays in the tray." He adds that the "fee-to-pay" model is currently working, therefore it's justified. I have issues with this -- firstly, I think exploiting things excessively because they currently work is a terribly short-sighted game plan, and exactly the kind of behavior that leads to market crashes. Yes, mainstream consumers might be happy to throw wads of extra cash at EA right now, but for how long will they do this? Consumers are just as likely to abruptly cease their support as they are blindly give it, and what will companies have to fall back on?  A publisher making games more expensive by adding piles of downloadable content and microtransactions reeks of a dying magazine raising its prices to excessive degrees to counter its growing irrelevance. It might get away with it for a while, but long-term, it doesn't make sense to become more expensive as newer and fresher alternatives compete for a consumer's attention.  Rather, there are fundamental issues with console game development that need to be addressed. Clearly, assigning 600 workers to a game, spending millions on it, and investing so much that five million sales is deemed a failure just isn't working. Publishers are presented as having no choice, as being the victim of a changing market, but they're not adapting or evolving. They're trying to bend the rules of the new game to play the one they're used to. It's the kind of stagnant attitude that leads to destruction -- something that could kill the jobs of a lot of talented people and, as we've already seen with THQ, throw quality IP into potential ruin.  Bleszinski's points are absolutely compelling, as have been the points of basically every game journalist I've argued with about Electronic Arts this week. There's been a lot of defense for the company, and that's fair enough. So far all the arguments are rooted in the now, however, and that's my problem. I don't believe the "we make money now, there's no problem" attitude is the right one to have, especially in a console market so tumultuous and at risk of falling apart. A crash is looking set to happen, if it's not happened already, and the companies with an eye on the future, not the ones scrabbling to make money immediately, are the ones I feel are going to succeed.  As far as calling for people to stop being angry, I just don't agree. When people think of games they care about being twisted to suit the psychological warfare that is a "freemium" model, I believe they've every right to be unhappy, and should voice their disapproval. Even if they are a vocal minority, and even if EA doesn't give a shit, I defy anybody to see something they're passionate about get broken and not want to say something.  I mean, the people making EA memes on Reddit probably don't care about what Cliffy's got to say on their behavior, but he still said it! None of us are very good as just shutting up and ignoring things we don't like, and there's a lot to dislike in the mainstream game industry right now.
Microtransactions photo
'Companies exist to make money'
As we noted yesterday, former Epic man Cliff Bleszinski took some time to defend the controversial use of microtransactions in retail games, sticking up for it on the basis that companies exist to make money. I rarely turn do...

Microtransactions photo

Cliff Bleszinski defends microtransactions

'Don't like it? Don't play it.'
Feb 28
// Jordan Devore
Designer Cliff Bleszinski has shared his thoughts on the microtransactions and the backlash they receive, arguing that game companies exist to make money and if people don't like them or their practices, they can vote with th...
Nintendo doom photo
Imagines a software-only future for the Big N
Cliff Bleszinski has painted a grim portrait of the game console landscape in a recent GI interview, likening the "state of transition" to that experienced in the famous videogame market crash. His most controversial statemen...

Horror won't fly in $60 games? The industry won't let it!

Feb 13 // Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts made headlines last year when it revealed Dead Space 3 needed to sell five million copies to secure its future. Likewise, Resident Evil 6 failed to meet Capcom's expectations despite shifting almost five million copies itself. This is ridiculous. It's absolutely fucking ludicrous that games selling over one million copies could be considered a failed project, under any circumstances. The sheer extravagance of game development has painted publishers into such a corner that their ambitions are now far exceeding reality. While digital distribution cuts costs of physical manufacturing and makes it easier to get games into the hands of customers, I don't think major publishers will seize that opportunity to create horror games, or any other kind of niche title. If they were prepared to, they'd already be trying it. Instead, they're just going to continue to put out PC ports of console games and charge $60 for digital copies. They've evidenced their belief that, to them, digital is not a way to take more risks, but a way to simply make more savings on the same old shit they've been pulling at retail. The problem is not the constraints of the retail market, it's the constraints of an executive's brain.  Amnesia and Slender are successful not through sheer virtue of their digital nature. They're successful because they weren't obsessed with beating Call of Duty. They had realistic goals, and they met them. This is evidenced in retail just as much as digital, too! Look at Demon's Souls. That game was a success because it had a humble budget, a decent (but not indulgent) marketing push, and Atlus manufactured copies to meet demand. With such reasonable expectations, the game's performance was cause for celebration. It's also interesting to note that, as a reader reminded me, Sony originally meant to publish Demon's Souls and got cold feet. Cue a smaller publisher with less lofty goals sweeping in and making treasure of Sony's trash! Major publishers can't be happy with that kind of success though, and they're not interested in games that can't become major rivals to Call of Duty and the like. I somehow don't think that mentality will disappear in a far-flung digital future.  Once Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Activision all move fully into the world of incorporeal distribution, it'll just be the same game on a different playing field. They'll still be fighting tooth and nail to beat each other, and thus remain too afraid to stray too far from their comfortable boundaries. There's not actually much evidence that interest in horror games suddenly disappeared overnight. Resident Evil was still doing just fine before Capcom panicked and turned RE6 into Mainstream Videogames: The Official Videogame. They're simply not guaranteed to be THE most popular item right now, and it seems publishers want the whole cake, or otherwise reject even a sizable slice.  So it is that independent developers and smaller publishers are left to pick up the slack, and continue making games that aren't the most successful in the world, but still successful -- provided you're not short-sighted, greedy, and obsessed with dominating your market, rather than simply doing well in it.  Horror games won't fly in the retail space for one simple reason -- publisher clipped their wings before they were given a chance. 
AAA horror photo
Cliff Bleszinski thinks horror's doomed at retail, but who's doing the dooming?
As Dead Space 3 trades terror for cover mechanics, and Resident Evil 6 gives up all pretense of being a scary game, it's becomes ever clearer that mainstream publishers have no faith in horror games. Developer Cliff Bleszinsk...


Cliff Bleszinski to give PAX East 2013 keynote

The musical lineup has also been revealed
Jan 10
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
This year's PAX East keynote (or "Storytime" as Penny Arcade is referring to it as now) will be hosted by Cliff Bleszinski. The charismatic man is always a pleasure to listen to, and I'm really looking forward to hearing what...
Jimquisition photo

Jimquisition: Epic Hole (B Mine Cliffy)

Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Dec 31
// Jim Sterling
Over a year ago, Cliff Bleszinski (then of Epic Games) and myself had a public falling out and have never traded a word since. Ever a man of peace and goodwill, I hereby extend the olive branch the only way I know how -- with a little help from The Escapist's very own Miracle of Sound.

The DTOID Show: GTA V, Assassin's Creed III, & Cliffy B!

Oct 29
// Tara Long
Well hello there, jewels. How are you doing this fine evening? Staying dry, I hope? Wha-OKAY ENOUGH SMALL TALK. On today's Destructoid Show, we're treated to a launch trailer for Assassin's Creed III, a live-action trai...

Cliffy B wants to start a relationship with Resident Evil

Oct 28
// Jonathan Holmes
Cliffy B, honcho behind the Gears of War series, recently became a free agent. Meanwhile at Capcom, Resident Evil 6 has been collecting some of the worst reviews in the series history, largely due to the game's arguably faile...

The DTOID Show: Assassin's Creed DLC, Star Wars, & Porno

Plus: Pac-Man locked in a dark room with nothing but pills and his personal demons
Oct 03
// Max Scoville
On today's completely professional, mature, and otherwise not stupid or embarrassing Destructoid Show, we discuss some very serious topics. First, a season pass is announced for Assassin's Creed III, and the first DLC will b...

Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski, known for his work on Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal, and Gears of War, is leaving the company "to chart the next stage of his career." "I've been doing this since I was a teenager," he w...


Cliffy B wants Japanese devs to consider more multiplayer

May 14
// Chris Carter
Gears of War head Cliff Bleszinski is at it again! Not content with just criticizing honest reviews and calling 8/10s "hateful", it seems as if Cliffy B has now set his sights on a new target: the Japanese game industry and t...

Jimquisition: On-Disc DLC Cannot Be Justified

Apr 23
// Jim Sterling
There are explanations for games that ship with downloadable content already included. There are, however, no excuses. While you may have a reason, you do not have validation, because on-disc DLC is a problem willingly creat...

Cliffy B calls on-disc DLC 'an unfortunate reality'

Apr 11
// Jim Sterling
If reactions to Street Fighter x Tekken are anything to go by, savvy gamers do not appreciate being sold content that they've technically already bought by purchasing the disc it's housed on. Forking over extra money to unloc...

Mega64 and Cliffy B 'honor' Warren Spector

Mar 20
// Tony Ponce
During GDC, developer Warren Spector was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award. To pay tribute to a man who has brought so much love and joy in the world, Mega64 teamed up with Cliff Bleszinski for a short video retros...

Cliffy B wants Avatar movie quality graphics for games

Oct 19
// Dale North
Cliff Bleszinski, Gears of War creator and lover of blue aliens, isn't fully satisfied with game graphics today. They're good, but they're not Avatar good, right? "I'm sorry, do you think graphics are good enough?" Blesz...

Talking to Women about Videogames: Gears 3 isn't perfect?

Sep 20 // Jonathan Holmes
When a series reaches its third iteration, standards change. I've often thought that if Resident Evil 3 had been released before Resident Evil 2, then that game would be the most beloved in the PS1 Resident Evil trilogy. It's just a better game than Resident Evil 2, yet it didn't sell as well because by the time it was released, the standards of Resident Evil players had changed. It's not exactly fair, but it's far from uncommon. I'm not expecting that to happen with Gears 3, but that kind of thinking could explain why some reviewers (and gamers) don't seem to be enjoying the game as much.  It's the first game in any series that gets off the easiest. It's like your first girlfriend/boyfriend. It doesn't matter if the kissing is too drooly and bitey or if the conversation is dumb and boring. It's kissing, and talking to the person who kisses you. On the lips! For most, that alone is amazing. I think that was true of how fans felt about the first Gears, as well as other first games in now-iconic gaming series like Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, the aforementioned Resident Evil, and many others. With these games, everything felt fresh, exciting, and unpredictable, like you were present for an important milestone in the life of gaming.   None of these games were guaranteed hits, so when they all got sequels, fans were giddy, sometimes blinded, with delight. That's part of why the sequels to all of these games shared near-universal success. It didn't matter if they told all-new stories with different characters (like Super Mario Bros. 2 or GTA: Vice City), or if they continued the scenario from the first title (like Mega Man 2 or Gears of War 2). These sequels just needed to do three things to make fans happy: be bigger, be prettier, and be packed with more stuff than the originals. At this stage in a relationship between the series and its fans, they're so in love that they don't need any new toys or tricks to spice things up. They just want more of the game they fell in love with. Not only is that all that fans want out of their sequels, anything more than that will sometimes turn them off. Zelda II is often remembered as the worst Zelda game, not because it's poorly made -- the game is substantially bigger and better-looking than its predecessor -- but because it's too weird. Same goes for Devil May Cry 2, No More Heroes 2, and many other weird 2s. These games usually do well at retail initially, but not long after release, fans start to complain that the sequel is too different and that they just wanted to buy the first game again, except with more content. It's common for these games to become the black sheep of their respective franchises, the ones that fans of the series often choose to forget. As many of us know, it doesn't matter how smart, charming, or funny the weird kid is. They are still always the biggest targets, the easiest to brush off. Now, when it comes to the third game in a series, things get really complicated. Gamers are no longer satisfied with bigger/better/more. They want that "new" feeling back again, but they also want familiarity. By this time, most fans feel like they are "on to" the series and its developers. They analyzed the prior games in the series for years, becoming familiar with the habits and idiosyncrasies of the games' designers to the point where they often feel they know what makes the series great better than its creators do. You see this in film all the time as well, from Spider-Man 3 to Return of the Jedi. What will seem like "pretty much the same thing" to a non-fan will be "a total betrayal of everything that made the first two great" to a fan. One or two little musical numbers or too many villains and/or man-eating buck-toothed teddy bears is all it takes to go from classic to dud. Game developers know this, and as a result, it's common to see a strange combination of playing it safe and loads of new stuff in the third iteration of any given series. Whether the game succeeds or fails has everything to do with how well the new stuff stays true to the original game and how seamlessly it's integrated into the classic content. Super Mario Bros. 3 saw the return of the Fire Flower and the Super Mushroom, but it also received an overworld map, airships, Kuribo's Shoe, and the ability to fly. That's why it's probably the most beloved third game in any series in the history of gaming. Compare that to Ninja Gaiden 3 on the NES, a game that felt both too different from (evil clones of who? ancient ship of what?) and too similar to (same character graphics, same basic level design and gameplay concepts) its predecessors.  The survival of a series is sometimes entirely dependent on how well it can balance fresh ideas with the core concepts that define said series. That's especially true if the game in question doesn't have new hardware to back it up. Would GTA IV have been a hit if it had launched on the PS2? Same goes for Resident Evil 4 and the PS1 -- could the game have revitalized the series without having new hardware to help it raise the bar? I don't think so. That's why the smartest time to release a third game in a series is when new hardware comes along. We can only imagine how Gears 3 would have been received if it waited for the next Microsoft console like Halo 3 did. Back to the point: When something is too close to the original but still too different, I call it the "Bizarro effect," named after Superman's powerful but defective clone. It's a bit like the old uncanny valley theory, where a near-human-looking robot is much more creepy than a robot that doesn't even try for a human likeness. When a game (or anything else for that matter) is almost like something you love, but is just different enough to remind you that it's not the one you love, it's incredibly easy to hate. That's why I think N'Sync fans hated the Backstreet Boys, or why I thought my high-school girlfriend was incredibly cute while her slightly greasier, meaner sister was the most disgusting thing ever. It seems that the third game in a series is most likely to suffer from the Bizarro effect. Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the aforementioned Bonk's Adventure 3, and perhaps Gears of War 3 all suffer from it. It's not fair that these games get the shaft, but that's what "The Curse of Three" is all about.  So, those of you who've now picked up Gears of War 3: do you see why some people didn't enjoy it as much as Gears of War 2? If so, do you think that it is because of your altered perception and higher standards for the series as a whole, or is it just because the game isn't as fun?

Gears of War 3 just hit retail, and the reviews were positive across the board, ranging from great to perfect. For most games, that would be more than enough to please both the title's developers and fans, but in the case of...


Hey! You! We got some news about video games. Pay attention! First, it looks like Battlefield 3 won't be on Steam, and the special edition of Mass Effect 3 has robot dogs or something. The Riddler makes his big debut, s...


Cliffy B: Wii U haters 'talk sh*t' but will buy it anyway

Jul 11
// Jim Sterling
Clifford "Cliffy B" Bleszinski has called out those who wish to pour derision on the Wii U, claiming that they'll all be buying one despite their scorn.  "From what I've seen, it looks pretty cool," he declared. "It seem...

If you follow Destructoid regularly or know anything about me, you will understand how godamn excited I must have been for this interview. I make no apologies for what you are about to watch but I do warn you that ...


Watch Fallon shout 'GET THE EYEBALL!' at Cliff Bleszinski

Jun 15
// Nick Chester
Videogame week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon continues! Last night Fallon hosted the recently-engaged Cliff Bleszinski (congrats!) to show off the upcoming Gears of War 3.  As Fallon points out, this game is kind of a ...

Cliffy B: PS3 has zero chance of getting Gears of War

Jun 15
// Jim Sterling
Sony lovers hoping to get there dirty hands on Gears of War are in for their millionth disappointment, with lead designer Cliff Bleszinski confirming that there's "zero chance" of the series ever coming to the PS3. A Microsof...

E3: Cliffy B 'doesn't get' people writing off Gears story

Jun 09
// Jim Sterling
I was in the presence of the esteemed Cliff Bleszinski to get a preview gawp at Gears of War 3's campaign this week. The narrative mode of Gears is what attracted to me to the series in the first place, and I feel it odd that...

Cliffy B wants dynamic difficulty for returning gamers

May 25
// Jim Sterling
We spotted Epic's Cliff Bleszinski proposing a new method of scaling difficulty for returning gamers last night. The basic idea is that a game lowers the challenge if someone hasn't played a title in a while, allowing them to...

Contest: Win some codes to the Gears of War 3 beta!

Apr 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
[Update] Contest closed! All winners have been sent a code! The Gears of War 3 beta officially kicked off today for all those that pre-order the game from GameStop. They now join all the people who've been in the beta throug...

Destructoid: Cliffy B, SEGA, and exploding men, oh my!

Jan 15
// Tara Long
Today's episode of Destructoid is a special one. I say that every episode, but today I really mean it. Why, you ask? Because it's Friday, of course! But also because Max chose to wear his zebra print tie today and that can...

Cliff Bleszinski charms in latest Bulletpoints video

Jan 11
// Conrad Zimmerman
Epic Games' series of developer diaries for Bulletstorm have been pretty entertaining up to this point. Even if I hadn't been barraged with constant reminders of how many times the game uses the word "f--k" (and speakin...

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