Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski has posted a passionate defence of microtransactions, insisting vocal detractors are a minority and citing investor pressure as the motivating factor for alternate revenue streams.
In a lengthy post on his Tumblr, Bleszinski pointed out that “scumbag EA” and “good guy Valve” use similar business practies, and that the much-criticised Origin currently occupies a similar think space as Steam did back in the day.
“It took Valve years to bang their service into the stellar shape that it is in these days. Yet somehow everyone online forgets this, and they give EA crap about trying to create their own online services. Heaven forbid they see our digital roadmap for the future and try to get on board the ‘games as services’ movement,” he wrote.
Bleszinski said Epic came under similar attack for offering premium cosmetic weapon skins for Gears of War.
“And you know what? In spite of the uproar, people still bought plenty of them. If you don’t like EA, don’t buy their games. If you don’t like their microtransactions, don’t spend money on them. It’s that simple,” he said.
“EA has many smart people working for them 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.
“If you’re currently raging about this on GAF, or on the IGN forums, or on Gamespot, guess what? You’re the vocal minority. Your average guy that buys just Madden and GTA every year doesn’t know, nor does he care. He has no problem throwing a few bucks more at a game because, hey, why not?”
Bleszinski said that after adjusting for inflation, games are cheaper than ever before from the consumer’s perspective, but cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make when you include the necessary marketing costs.
“The old business model is either evolving, growing, or dying. No one really knows. ‘Free to play’ aka ‘Free to spend four grand on it’ is here to stay, like it or not. Everyone gets a Smurfberry. 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,” he added.
The outspoken developer also reminded readers that games publishers exist to make money first.
“Those companies that put these products out? They’re for profit businesses. They exist to produce, market, and ship great games ultimately for one purpose. First, for money, then, for acclaim.
“And when those companies are publicly traded on the stock market they’re forced to answer to their shareholders. This means that they need to make a lot of money in order to increase the value of the shareholder’s stock. Every quarter.”
“If you don’t like the games, or the sales techniques, don’t spend your money on them. You vote with your dollars,” he concluded.
The full post contains a lot of further discussion and is well worth a read, whether you agree or not. It seems to be a response to outrage over recent news that EA will include microtransactions of some kind in every title moving forward. Activision said yesterday it expects to take a profit hit while it scampers to implement new business models, too.