Cliff Bleszinski Backs Xbox One DRM

Gears of War designer and former Epic Games developer Cliff Bleszinski has thrown his support behind Microsoft's Xbox One and its new DRM measures that seek to control the use and sale of used game discs. Speaking via Twitter, Bleszinski posted several comments expressing his support of the Xbox One's move towards a DRM-controlled used game market, saying that AAA development costs as they are now cannot be maintained in a marketplace that also supports used games.

"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. Assassins 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," he said.

Destructoid's Jim Sterling offered a response to CliffyB's comments here.

Source: CVG


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  1. NyuRena says:

    "Like Gears of War." is a pejorative description of a banal, cliche, clunky, and over-hyped cover based linear shooter.

    Congratulations on that! Now get out your brown/grey scale color palette and shut up.

  2. Felgard says:

    i actully like these always online DRM's it's make it easier to chose what game i bring to work

    I work at sea and usaly its around 4$ a minute or MB where i am so yes i "SUPORT" the always online DRM. 

    So YAY now i know buying a xbox one is somthing i'll never need to worry about

  3. GrimCW says:

    ha ha.. he does realize this means fewer titles will ever EARN the "AAA" status then right?

    if it weren't for cheaper, used, or rented titles, most people never would've even gotten into Gears of War, let alone considered it.

    the game would've failed right there at its start.

    Traded and borrowed copies of UT are all that made it overly popular as well, if it weren't for that, few would've bought it and the market would've continued to stagnate and fall like it did in the 80's due to the high prices. (and yes, piracy)

    Same goes for any game over the years when they're new titles. If people don't get exposed to them, they won't likely ever buy them or the sequels. And demo's don't do shit, while for some they help, most are such terrible parts of the game, or spoilers of it, that they just don't do much.


    Also, he does realize he just slandered the hell out of Military personnel right? They don't get a choice in the internet connection problem, nor do most normal people. The corporations that control the connections do, and they aren't going to run lines to places they deem "not profitible" to do so in. My grandparents live on such a street, as do a couple of my uncles.

    My area only has had it so long (since about '96) it due to my father having worked for time warner at the time road runner was being setup and him taking the boxes and such needed and rigging it himself on his private time. But if it were left to Time warner, we weren't scheduled to get Road Runner until about 4 years ago!

  4. Mystakill says:

    Sounds like Cliff picked the perfect time to take a break from the gaming industry. He’s had his head in it for so long that he’s clearly delusional about how the “real world” works outside of the fantasy-land that was Epic. Multimillion-dollar development and marketing budgets, sports cars all around, and he probably thinks that that’s “normal”.

  5. Malice says:

    What a jerk. He shows how out of touch people like him are. If you trace the line of game failing. The line goes straight back to the developer/publisher. Don’t blame gamers for the fault of these companies. Many of the “AAA” games have bloated budgets in which most games won’t make their money back. It’s the companies making these games that are resonsible for these bloated budgets and massive failures.

  6. greevar says:

    It is their fault, not because of the reasons you mention, but because they have made a habit of creating disposable game experiences. The games are, for the most part, only good for one play through and don't have the replay value that compels a consumer to hang on to it. If they bothered to make games people want to keep, they wouldn't have to worry so much about used games and rentals.

  7. E. Zachary Knight says:

    As for why the games industry doesn't do it, that is a choice. A choice that is based on the false assumption that rentals steal sales from the game companies in the same way they think used sales and piracy steal sales. It is all fear based. If they were smart, they would produce exclusively single player versions of online games for use in rentals and perhaps reduced content games in those cases where there is no online component. But again, since most companies have moved away from providing demos, they wouldn't want to do that eiher.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  8. E. Zachary Knight says:

    The special licensing, or rather unique rental copy, of a movie is nothing special. It is just the movie. Typically it comes with unskippable previews (which sadly a lot of retail movies also have), and a lack of bonus content. Often there is a menu option for bonus content but selecting it just tells you if you want the bonus content you have to buy the full movie.

    That is just one of the compromises that rental business accept to get access to the movies early enough to have them packaged and on the shelf day one of release. Otherwise, they would have to wait till the retail release and then try to buy enough copies at enough retail locations to stock for demand. Then it takes a few days to package and shelve. Those few days would be bad for business. 

    The movie studios cannot stop them from doing the latter, but it is highly inconvenient for the rental service to do so.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  9. sqlrob says:

    I doubt very much Blockbuster bought stuff retail. Those licenses exist, they're just not needed.

  10. kurifu says:

    I stand corrected on the legal point of this, thanks for clarifying. Your response below explains the licensing better.

    However, this still does call to question how well the two industries can be compared. I am unaware of special licensing options being available for video games, whereas they do exist for movies.

    And as you have pointed out, even though they are not illegal to rent, it seems that publishers exert control over distributors to ensure they are not supplying movies for the purposes of renting them.

  11. E. Zachary Knight says:

    No you are not correct. Take it from someone who knows. The Entertainment Merchants Association:

    Do I Need a Special License to Rent or Resell Videos or Video Games?

    No. No special license is needed to rent or resell videos or video games. A retailer, however, does need to have the normal business and tax licenses required by the jurisdictions in which they are located. In addition, in many jurisdictions, businesses that purchase and/or sell used videos and video games need to have a "secondhand dealers" license.

    Of course, if you do not live in the US, then this may not apply.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  12. kurifu says:

    Unfortunately I am correct and I encourage you do to the research into how the movie rental system works before making claims of circumstance. The source of the movie doesn't matter as long as they are licensed to rent it.



  13. sqlrob says:


    Heck, when RedBox doesn't get a good deal from a distributor, they just buy from Wal-Mart.


  14. MechaCrash says:

    Maybe if he stopped having bloated budgets for shitty games, he wouldn't have to start choking out our consumer rights to make money.

  15. ZippyDSMlee says:

    All the more reason I do not support crappy developers anymore.


    At the end of the day most of their money is wasted, be it on production cost or suits or hardware they are the ones running themselves into the ground its not the used game market nor consumers that are doing it.

  16. Infophile says:

    The problem is, the market has kind of pushed itself into a corner here. Everyone is inflating their budgets to keep up with improving their graphics, game physics, etc. If one of them decided to cut back on their budget to save on graphics, there won't be anything to get their game to sell over their competitors, and it'll bomb. So their solution is to try to stealthily charge more, rather than fall behind. There are a lot of reasons it's gotten to this, from the fact that the market is oversaturated, to devs being risk-averse, to the prisoner's dilemma type situation they find themselves in, but it can't last indefinitely. Attempts to eke more money out of consumers through hidden costs or preventing used game sales can only work temporarily, if that (money a consumer spends on DLC is money they won't have to spend on more games, after all).

    The alternative to all of this is the "Nintendo" solution: Accept that your graphics won't hold up to your competitors, and just focus on making good, fun games. Nintendo's realized in the last few years that 2D Mario platformers still sell, and they're cheap as hell to make compared to 3D platformers, so we're seeing a huge surge of them. A lot of indie devs are finding their own way to make fun games where the graphics don't hold a candle to the big publishers, and yet they still make profits.

    Aside: I've actually seen a lot of developers in non-mainstream genres (eg. JRPGs) switch to developing for handhelds, where good graphics aren't expected nearly as much, and so it's easier to turn a profit. Of course, handheld technology keeps improving as well, so this is only a temporary solution.

  17. Sam-LibrarIan Witt says:

    Perhaps the problem isn't the used game market but the astronomical budgets and the way game makers approach game production?

  18. dagnabulous says:

    Don't worry Cliff. Since I won't be getting an Xbox One, you don't have to worry at all about used or rental copies of your game passing through my house. So now you'll have a game I don't like on a system I refuse to buy. Better step back, you don't want to get hit too hard by the wave of profits coming in!

  19. Imautobot says:

    It's worth noting that Redbox likely isn't getting any kind of discount when it comes to the games it buys.  Which means they cannot afford to pack their machines with a new title of a game like they can with a new movie.  Even at retail prices they can buy 3 DVD's for the price of 1 game.  But in most cases the DVD's they rent are actual rental versions, and they probably get them for a song compared to the retail price.  This is why the gaming industry should never fear the rental industry.  The price is too high for mass renting.

    But you have a good argument.  Why not give online access to a game 1 month prior to physical game launch.  If their endgame is to push people to a digital game collection, this would serve them better, and ensure revenue streams going direct to the publisher without the need to produce physical product.  But at the end of the day, people like me want a hard copy.  This new model would probably make me a dying breed, but I also want my game to work regardless of internet connectivity.  I don't think that's too much to ask.

  20. Ivresse says:

    There’s one slight issue between your comparison of the movie industry and the video game industry. With the movie industry, when a new movie comes out, the cheaper purchasing alternative of rentals and DVD sales come out about a month after the movie is released, so if someone wants to see a movie immediately, they HAVE to see it in the cinema or wait a month before the cheaper alternative, which is plenty of time for a movie to receive on its initial investment.

    With a video game however, the cheaper alternative of rentals and used game sales can appear within a day of the games release, if not on the very same date of release. That’s certainly not enough time for a game to rely on recouping its investment before the available market starts decreasing through alternative purchasing methods.

    If a video game was to mimic the movie industry in terms of selling methods, the only way I can think of they could do so would be for AAA titles to be available solely through digital download from the publisher (or from microsoft/sony/nintendo/steam) for a month before letting them be released in stores as hard copy versions, with no DRM, no ‘always online’ restrictions and allowing them to be put on the used market as it is without loss of features. Non AAA titles would essentially become the video game equivalent of the ‘straight to DVD movie’

    I’m not sure if that would work to be honest, but its the only way I can think of if you wanted to compare video game selling methods with movie selling methods.

  21. kurifu says:

    It's worth noting that you cannot by a retail copy of a movie and legally rent it out to someone. Special versions, or licenses if you will, are required to rent a copy of a movie which generally results in higher returns for the publisher. This is not the case for video games in North America, so the comparison you've made is not really representative.

  22. Imautobot says:

    Here's the deal.  

    The movie industry never crumbled under the weight of the movie rental industry.  


    Because when the movie industry produces a quality product people go an see it in the theater.  

    The same goes for gaming.  If the industry produces quality products, they will take in initial sales that easily cover their investment.

    Sounds like Cliffy just wants to justify making an inferior product and keep charging top dollar for it.  Personally I was on the fence about the latest Bioshock, and I contemplated waiting for used, but the reviews were so glowing, I bought it the week of release.  

    So my message for Cliff is simple.  You bring your A game, and I'll pay top dollar for it.  If you bring your B game, I will either buy it used, or not at all.  You're call Cliff.

  23. IanC says:

    Im not surprised that this ass likes the Xbox One DRM.


    Oh remember that time that Gears of War on the PC got its DRM confused and all legal copies stopped working for a while? Wasn't it something like a week or two before they started working again? Yeah, DRM is so awesome.

  24. ChrowX says:

    Cliff.. just stop. You're not an economist. You're not a marketing executive. You're not an accountant. You're not qualified to tell people that used games are killing the industry just because you made a few games. Also, you're wrong.

    There are problems in the video game market and in the video games industry. They are problems with development cycles, bloated advertising budgets, getting trapped in a constant stream of convention and expo tours that force studios to constantly fuck over progress on the game in favor of making a showy playable demo build, and the distinct issue of every investor and every studio wanting their game to be a Sextuple A Call of Duty killer that ships a quadrillion units.

    People wanting to pay less for games and turning to used products to save that extra bit of cash is not the problem.

  25. sqlrob says:

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

    He's right.

    But, I wonder why he doesn't oh, think about how you can lower the budgets and marketing budgets instead?


  26. Samster says:

    I think, from my experiences working in the IT industry generally, that it's pretty stupid to imply the video game industry where AAA games are involved is running at optimum efficiency and simply cannot be made at a lower financial and operating cost. I watch my employers waste so much money on overpaid, underworking middle and senior managers, and initiatives and projects that do nothing but waste everyone's time, and I watch employees firefighting and spending three times as much time, effort and money on things as they needed to because those in higher ranks didn't give them the resources they needed to be able to do their jobs right the first time.

    Maybe I don't make videogames, but this skewed and air-headed approach to business is positively gangrenous. I've seen it in every IT job I have. You cannot tell me these studios have completely lean operations, or that profits are 100% being channelled into the right places, or that they're managing projects to the best of their ability and making 100% the best games they can possibly make so that the only financial fault that can be found is in piracy and the used games trade – the latter of which has undeniable benefits to the games industry.

    Like Jim, I'm getting pretty sick of the games industry turning around and blaming consumers when they don't make as much money as they want to. If the current industry model isn't working, then fine, but I'm damn sure consumer rights shouldn't be the first thing to be cut loose.

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