Editorial: Is Cliff Bleszinski’s Used Game Views the Problem or the Fix the Industry Needs?

E3 2013 PS4 Used GamesGears of War developer Cliff Bleszinski has never been shy about his thought process. Be it his thoughts on what journalists have to say or his views on the used game market, Cliff tends to talk without the usual PR filter. On its own, this is a refreshing and welcomed trait and I hope we see more of from those who are in position of knowledge and can help bring change to our industry. But unfiltered words should also not be taken for the gospel. Taking to his Twitter account, Cliff has been weighing in on the used game discussion which has only escalated in the past week with the PS4 being far more liberal towards selling and lending games while Microsoft has created their next gen system with a lot of restrictions.

In a nutshell, Cliff believes that the used game market is killing off AAA titles. He argues that with production costs rising with each generation and fans demanding more and more, there is little room for loss of profit which he believes used games cause. Instead, gamers need to pay full retail price in order to help support the AAA games that they want.

After the jump, Cliffs actual words and an interesting rebuttal from Jim Sterling of Destructoid.

Cliff BleszinskiPut together by the folks at GamePolitics, Cliff’s thoughts on the used game market;

 “You cannot have game and marketing budgets this high while also having used and rental games existing. The numbers do NOT work people,” he said.

“The visual fidelity and feature sets we expect from games now come with sky high costs. Assassin’s Creed games are made by thousands of devs.”

“Newsflash. This is why you’re seeing free to play and microtransactions everywhere. The disc-based day one $60 model is crumbling.

“Those of you telling me ‘then just lower game budgets’ do understand how silly you sound, right?” said Bleszinski.

He also said that people mad about Xbox One’s mandatory online check-in every 24 hours are directing their anger at the wrong people.

“If you can afford high speed internet and you can’t get it where you live direct your rage at who is responsible for pipe blocking you,” 

On the surface, I get what Cliff is saying. If we the gamers are the ones who are demanding these high quality AAA games, then we cannot support used games which cut profits from publishers and don’t allow for future game creations. With ever-explicating game production costs and some games requiring hundreds, if not thousands of developers to help put the finishing touches, surely the used game market must go away.

That is true, if you think about from the standpoint of developers who live in a broken system, argues Jim Sterling of Destructoid.

 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?”

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. 

With the recent explosion in mobile games and the satisfaction that gamers tend to have with them, Cliffs argument begins to hold less weight as many of those games are developed by teams with only a few members. Of course we don’t all want just small mobile experiences and so what about the big AAA titles that we all crave. Surely for that, there is a requirement for teams with hundreds of personal.

Jim Sterling

In fact, games like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed which manage to sell boatloads of copies are still running on the same engine. While there are tweaks made from each iteration, between multiple teams working on each title so that a new title can be released each year and only modifications made to the game engine, there shouldn’t be a need for these mega teams. If there is, maybe it’s time for the industry to once again change its practice as oppose to looking to extract every dollar it can from the consumer in order to bandaid the problem. Jim (pictured right) once again;

 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…

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. 


Where you fall in on the discussion? Is the issue at hand that gamers want more and more and that their expectations place a burden on developers who in turn need to shut down the used game market if they want to continue to survive? Or is the problem with a broken system that developers and publishers don’t want to face and instead want to solve by extracting money in every which way that they can from gamers?

  • Ana Helušić

    what an idiot