Bleszinski: 'The shift to digital is still going to happen'

But it's going to be "slow and subtle," predicts designer

Microsoft and Sony will continue to push a "slow and subtle" transition towards digital distribution, believes Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski.

Last night the ex-Epic Games designer posted a lengthy blog tackling the issue of used games, DRM and Microsoft's recent u-turn on its Xbox One policies, as well as how the ambition of a digital future will develop.


In it, Bleszinski outlined his thoughts on the coming generation of consoles and how he believes Microsoft's U-turn on planned used games prevention could shape the strategies developers take.

"So here's what's going to happen now that Microsoft has largely matched Sony's (well played) move at E3," he started, "the shift to digital is still going to happen (FOR BOTH) but it's going to be slow and subtle.

"Suddenly more DLC will be made available. More microstransactions will appear. And Day One Digital will (hopefully) be cheaper and will have so many added bells and whistles that consumers (with reliable enough bandwidth) will have a hard time refusing the tasty downloadable edition over the disc based one."

Bleszinski continued to posit his strategy for encouraging digital adoption and helping users acclimatise to the change.

"I've said before if I worked at Microsoft I would not only POSITIVELY motivate users to go digital but also offer their own trading system in which they give you MORE money for your game than Gamestop and sell the used games for LESS than Gamestop. Include a Netflix style mailing system and move along your merry way by engaging the customer as opposed to treating them like criminals."

Microsoft's biggest stumbling block was, Bleszinski says, its messaging.

"Years from now college courses are going to be taught in proper messaging and they're going to use Microsoft's E3 delivery as a worst case scenario," he said.

During E3, Bleszinski took to Twitter to speak out in support of Microsoft's DRM measures, which were positioned to control second-hand game sales.

"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.

"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?"

Earlier in his blog post Bleszinski addressed his comments on Twitter: "Making deep or well outlined arguments in 140 characters is nearly impossible, especially with a subject as complex as DRM and used games."


"I'm pro developer. I do, at the heart of it, believe that you can be profitable and pro-developer while being pro-consumer...if you're careful with how you message things. I've been in the trenches for many years alongside brilliant peers and I've heard stories at conferences of talented people getting fucked out of money they deserve."

"If you think this is back-peddling understand that I firmly stand by everything I've said. I'm writing this to give a surgical explanation behind some of my more...inflammatory posts on Twitter."

He went on to recount an experience presenting Gears of War 3 to GameStop executives, only to later find out the retailer was encouraging consumers to trade in the game as quickly as possible.

"A few years ago Microsoft asked me to go to the Gamestop Manager's show in Las Vegas." he explained. "So I flew out there, came on stage, shot a T-shirt gun at the crowd (so fun) met the managers, and did my best to not remind myself that I was in a city that I really don't like."

"Next up was the big exciting midnight launch for Gears 3... Cut to flying home and people start sending me pictures of the extremely well put together finely printed leaflets at the Gears 3 launch that said "Trade in this game by November 6th and get more than you normally would on your trade in!"

"Motherfucker. We had done a lot of work to keep the disc in tray, but those retail practices are deliberately set up to create a revolving door of game trade in. Folks say "Yeah, but Gamestop helps out a lot of games by pushing them!" to which I quote Chris Rock "Yeah, they're like the uncle who paid for your college...but molested you.

"Capitalism? Sure. It's a free market and they've got every right to do this. I accept that. However when I see studio after studio closing and the aforementioned alluded titles failing I know something's got to change."