“Horror doesn’t fly” in the $60 market, says Bleszinski

Wednesday, 13th February 2013 00:41 GMT By Brenna Hillier

In a lengthy personal blog post defending Dead Space 3′s action bent, Gears of War creator and self-professed horror fan Cliff Bleszinski has said triple-A doesn’t really support true survival horror any more. “The $60 disc based market horror doesn’t fly – it’s the ultimate ‘Campaign Rental’ that’s played for two days and traded in and I’m sure EA knows this. When we’re fully digital we’ll see more true horror games coming back. Look at Amnesia and Slenderman on PC,” he said.

Thanks, Gamespot.



  1. Mike W

    Shut up Cliffy

    #1 2 years ago
  2. LuLshuck

    hes right though

    #2 2 years ago
  3. modula

    Sadly he’s got a point, but why does EVERYTHING have to be triple A now? Surely there is some logic in making healthy profits by not spending £2,000,000,000 on development in the first place?! Not that I’m suggesting EA would do such a thing. It’s just frustrating as I suspect that Dead Space 1 & 2 made a pretty tidy sum. When are publishers going to realise that it’s just not possible for every game to sell like CoD and FIFA; it’s just not a realistic benchmark…

    #3 2 years ago
  4. ArcticMonkey

    How could we know whether he’s right or wrong when there have been no horror games this generation? We had Dead Space one, which sold decently for a new IP. Not every game will sell 5 million copies right away… Umm what else was there? Resident Evil, are we still counting that? If we are, it does pretty well for itself (Sales wise)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Erthazus

    “How could we know whether he’s right or wrong when there have been no horror games this generation? ”


    #5 2 years ago
  6. ArcticMonkey

    @5 Right, I was speaking more about consoles specifically. The sixty dollar packaged goods with AAA production costs.

    I don’t have a gaming Pc but I know there is more of a horror selection.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. salarta

    I can say with absolute, unflinching certainty that on this subject, he has no idea what he’s talking about.

    I’m going to start light, with something that I consider the weaker side of the case for horror games. Most of the modern big name publishers think that trying to be exactly like Hollywood is the ticket, right? By their logic, that means whatever trends keep hitting big bucks in the film industry is where video games should be. And what’s the biggest genre trend in film right now? Horror. Hollywood is so overloaded with horror films that we have them coming out all year round. We have them during Christmas. We have them during Easter. We have them on the Fourth of July. No matter when you go to a theater, at least one horror film is in rotation.

    Now for the stronger case. When did the last true, full-fledged survival horror game come out that WASN’T incredibly obscure or plagued with flaws? It’s been many, many years. Capcom threw away Resident Evil’s survival horror roots to try and become action because of 1) the Resident Evil live action films turning away from horror to become all action, and 2) games like Gears of War and Call of Duty. With RE5, Capcom tried to make RE a poor man’s Gears of War. Meanwhile, Konami threw away Silent Hill’s survival horror roots to try and make it a poor man’s Resident Evil. Same deal with Alone in the Dark. All of the big name survival horror franchises, the ones people recognize by name as being survival horror names, have been forcibly changed into action titles.

    What does this mean? It’s obscure titles, that get next to no promotion/marketing and often need to go with much lower production values, that have to be the torchbearers of survival horror. And those titles tend to get critical acclaim and great sales relative to how they have to largely rely on word of mouth to get their game out there.

    Amnesia: The Dark Descent managed to reach $1.4mil in sales after two years, and Alan Wake reached around $2mil after two years, and both games weren’t all that well promoted. As far as I recall, Amnesia was entirely word of mouth, and Alan Wake was pretty close to that situation too. I don’t know sales figures for Alan Wake’s American Dream, but it was the top-selling Arcade game on XBox Live on release, and Remedy is still planning to make Alan Wake 2. Plus, while there’s this incredibly stupid obsession with making $7-10 million in sales, many action-focused games fall well below what Alan Wake sold.

    Lastly, Bleszinski goes under the idea that survival horror games can only ever be single player experiences, ergo you can only ever play and enjoy them once before it loses its impact, ergo it’s not a viable market. Aside from it being a fairly baseless assumption that too many people wouldn’t buy a $60 game that’s survival horror (people pay $20 for two hour horror films, after all), there ARE ways to provide multiplayer in true survival horror. I’ve shared a very easy way of doing it for Silent Hill in the past, and many people attest that Resident Evil: Outbreak did a good job but was too ahead of its time. It’s just that these devs don’t really give a damn about trying to figure out how to use multiplayer in any way other than bombastic action game style. If they did, survival horror would be on par with the biggest action titles or close to it.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. ActionGameKing

    @7 Agreed, console devs don’t make horror games anymore so Cliff’s argument is moot.

    When ‘The Last of Us’ and Shinji Mikami’s ‘Project Zwei’ release and sell millions, I hope Cliff shoves his comments back where they came from. He is dead wrong on this one.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Phoenixblight


    Last of US has a multiplayer and by watching the videos of it I would say its under the same umbrella that Dead Space is in so this not exactly what Cliff is talking about. As far as Project Zwei goes that is a matter of when or if that game releases and I doubt it will pull any numbers to tell anyone anything different especially since Mikami had made Resident Evil 4 another one of the “horror” genre that was more action focused.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. manamana

    Condemned was the only survival-horror I had in this gen of consoles.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Hoika

    There’s a few horror/thriller games coming to consoles, Until Dawn, The Last of Us and Project Zwei. We’ll see how they do in sales.

    But there have been more horror games. Alan Wake, Condemned, Siren: Blood Curse, Fatal Frame 4 (Wii), Cursed Mountain (Wii), Dead Space and off course all the zombie games with the word “Dead” in the name: Dead Island, Left 4 Dead, Dead Nation, Dead Rising, The Walking Dead etc.

    The problem is (IMO) most games revolve around zombies lately. Even Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption, Yakuza and Borderlands did… every game seems to get a zombie spin-off.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. orakaa

    Ok… IF there is a Dead Space 3 (third entry of the series), it is because there was a public, a fanbase, and that Dead Space 1 did well in the first place. If the first Dead Space had not been successful, there wouldn’t have been a sequel, and a third episode.

    It’s like taking Assassin’s Creed and turning it into a cover shooter “because that’s what sells well”. Cliff would have a point if he was talking about why there was so many shooters released, but not on Dead Space. What attracted so many gamers over the game was precisely the fact that it was not a shooter.

    If I want a shooter, I’ll go play Gears of Wars or Lost Planet, not Dead Space (which is why I won’t buy the game)

    #12 2 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    @10: And handsdown one of the best Horror Games of all time.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. TheBlackHole


    “I can say with absolute, unflinching certainty that on this subject, he has no idea what he’s talking about” … “As far as I recall, Amnesia was entirely word of mouth, and Alan Wake was pretty close to that situation too”

    Amnesia’s sales were driven by Steam sales, and Alan Wake was published by Microsoft and had a multi-million dollar marketing budget. I know, because I worked on it.

    Now I can say with absolute, unflinching certainty that on this subject, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. salarta

    @14: Ah, the “take what the poster said, reworking it, then throw it back in his face” line of discourse, it remains classy as ever.

    You know full well that the sole line you cherry-picked out of my whole long post, a line where I honestly admitted to not being some kind of undisputed expert on every single aspect of how those games managed to reach their sales, was NOT my entire argument. I can tell you’re not the kind of person that’s ignorant enough that you would, if you were a huge DmC fan and were faced with someone that thoroughly detailed why they hated DmC, would sincerely think all that hate came solely from a change of Dante’s hair color. So why pretend to be that kind of person on this subject?

    For Amnesia, I have two answers. One is that on a personal level, I’d still count Steam sales as word of mouth, because even when it was featured on the front page during those sales, it was still an unknown name on sight, unlike games like Resident Evil 6 that got advertising plastered across websites, in trailers to videos, etc.

    For Alan Wake, I’m surprised to hear the game had a multi-million dollar marketing budget because I literally never heard of the game until this past Fall. Maybe this is because it was published by Microsoft; I don’t own a 360, so if the game was mainly promoted through there, I wasn’t exposed to the huge marketing effort. I’m assuming the multi-million dollar marketing budget you refer to does not include the Bright Falls miniseries.

    Actually, now that I look more into Alan Wake’s problems, it’s probably unfair for me to say much about its sales. I don’t know much about the 360 crowd (360 consumers have been stereotyped as people that won’t play anything that isn’t an FPS or sports game, but just because something is a stereotype doesn’t mean it’s true), I have no idea how it was marketed during initial release on the 360, and it took two whole years before anyone that wasn’t a 360 consumer could have any kind of access to the game. The only thing I think I can fairly say sales-wise now is that considering the game was only available on the 360 for such a long time, and all these other blockbuster action games have been showing up on multiple platforms immediately on release, Alan Wake may actually be a success story and a bigger sign of Bleszinski being wrong than I first thought. Imagine what Alan Wake’s sales would have been if it was multiplat on release and marketed in the same manner as the big action games have been.

    Anyway, feel free to do that whole “I’m going to cherry-pick one or two lines out of your multiple paragraphs and leave out critical details in order to make your comments look dumber than they actually are” thing again if it makes you happy. It’s the lazy straw man way out, but it’s an option.

    #15 2 years ago

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