Disarray

Cliff Bleszinski recently told MTV Multiplayer the following in an interview:

I think the PC is just in disarray… what’s driving the PC right now is ‘Sims’-type games and ‘WoW‘ and a lot of stuff that’s in a web-based interface. You just click on it and play it. That’s the direction PC is evolving into So for me, the PC is kind of the secondary part of what we’re doing. It’s important for us, but right now making AAA games on consoles is where we’re at.

A pretty bold statement for someone who gets his paycheck written out by a company who scored its first commercial success on the PC platform in the nineties with a series of shooters which still remain their most important releases nowadays.

Also notice how Cliff nicely reduces the platform to a playground restricted to thirteen year old girls with personality issues, disfunctional nerds and poker addicts. He actually makes it sound like Click and Play ain’t quite right. Wait, what’s the major selling point for consoles ?

I actually had to look up disarray.

1. a mental state characterized by a lack of clear and orderly thought and behavior; “a confusion of impressions” [syn: confusion]

So what, one might think. Our friend Cliffy has a strong preference for console games. He just made a million-selling title for the Xbox360. And then he drops yet another bomb.

“I think people would rather make a game that sells 4.5 million copies than a million and Gears is at 4.5 million right now on the 360,”

Hold it right there, Cliffy. This so called logic might apply in your wretched view on the games industry, but it’s time to get the facts right.

  • Platform exclusives are killing the industry: One might say that they are a major selling point for people to buy consoles, and I can’t compete with that. On the other hand, you can’t compare a game which was hyped-up for a year with a poor PC port thrown out six months later. Here’s a pro tip: don’t go bragging with the parallel development teams when you’re not going to release their products on the same day.

    Even without the obvious port quality issues (a recurring problem with console titles), you’re actually frustrating possible customers because their friend Bob with system X can already play the game and enjoy the content, while they are still in the dark about l possible port to their system Y. Oh, and they don’t know Bob good enough to get themselves invited for a game night.

    There is solid proof that a simultaneous release works, and ironically enough, CliffyB noted this as his favorite game or the year – with the possibility that he praises it as an Unreal 3 techdemo – Bioshock. It was released on all platforms (even on content distribution networks), and the sales went through the roof.

  • Unified gaming is blocked deliberately: I’ve stressed it before, and I cannot stress it enough: the only thing standing in the way of enabling cross-platform gaming for gamers around the world – and thus ease some of the hostility between platforms – are the big corporations. Epic’s main game publisher, Microsoft, only allows this feature on a very restricted amount of titles, undoubtedly in exchange for a huge bag of dollars. All of the console manufacturers have a functional online service, which works over regular ISP services. We have missed our mark there, and the consequences might be bigger than we expect. And I’m not even talking about the classification of customers. Gold, Silver, Bronze ? If I buy a game, I want the online functionality to be complete, disregarding my will to shell out cash for an online service I should get for free.
  • Ignorance of modification support is a big mistake: Still a long way to go on the console front. If I create a mod for an XBox 360 game, I have to go through a long XNA procedure to actually get the game on the XBox MarketPlace (if I manage to cook it together with the provided half-assed tools), and don’t even get me started on what happens if – god forbid – the mod gets too successful. I should have read the small prints in the XNA License Agreement. There is no way to publish custom tools for console games (Texture Mappers, UV mappers, …). There is no way to publish custom content for console games (Maps, Sound packs, skins …). Get your act together.
  • Unreal 3 sales aren’t all rainbows and butterflies: Maybe Cliffy is itchy about the bad Unreal 3 PC sales. It is my opinion that the platform was spoiled with excellent FPS-titles this year (Orange Box, Call Of Duty 4, Quake 4, …). Also, Unreal 3 might not be the strongest title in the series. You don’t enhance a game by making every playable character wear a ton of ridiculously bloated armor (kevlar-plated breast support, anyone ?) and throwing in a bunch of far-fetched gameplay modes. Even if it’s all covered in DX10 chocolate, this waffle tastes like it’s been in a closet for five years.

Kind regards,
Me

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