Xbox One and Used Games: Cliff Bleszinski Shares His Thoughts

Published 1 year ago by , Updated June 22nd, 2013 at 8:28 pm,

Cliff Bleszinski Xbox One Used Games

For more than two decades, Cliff Bleszinski was one of the creative minds behind Epic Games, developer of mega-hit franchises like Unreal Tournament and Gears of War. But, in addition to his role as Design Director, Bleszinski was also the face of Epic Games — the developer who would take the stage at E3, PAX, or a special Microsoft event to showcase his team’s latest creative endeavor.

However, while Bleszinski was out there revving his Lancer and firing T-shirt guns, you could also tell he had some genuine thoughts about the industry. That his perspective on where video games were going was boiling just below the surface. Unfortunately, close ties to Microsoft held Bleszinski back from truly letting loose.

Now that Bleszinski has left Epic Games, he is free to talk about whatever he chooses. And wouldn’t you know it, he has a lot to say about a variety of game-related topics. Usually those musings come in the form 140-character tweets, but his most recent public message — about used games and an all-digital future — has been delivered via full-on blog post.

Microsoft Xbox One Game Sharing Cancelled

You can read the full post on Bleszinski’s blog, but his point ultimately boils down to a combination of Microsoft’s poor messaging and the gaming public’s inability to see the forest for the trees. That being said, it’s still Microsoft’s job to adequately highlight the advantages of their new services, which, as Bleszinski admits, they failed to do. He even outlines some smart ways he would have pitched digital distribution to Microsoft, so that they, not GameStop, were the main source of used game sales and discounts.

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.

He also believes that Microsoft’s DRM and used game backpedaling will result in a “slow and subtle” shift towards digital, instead of the big leap the Xbox One (pre-DRM reversal) was assisting. According to Bleszinski, DLC and microtransactions will become even more prevalent than before, and gamers will soon see more Day 1 Digital releases.

Xbox One Game Library Sharing

While it’s not for long, Bleszinski also criticizes Microsoft for their poor messaging over digital copies of games. Much like those that pre-ordered an Xbox One pre-DRM reversal, Bleszinski saw something in Microsoft’s business model that would be good for video games. Microsoft simply failed to communicate that “something.” Online checks every 24 hours, however? Yeah, Bleszinski thinks those were just a bad idea.

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. I’ve known many of the folks over there for years, and folks, you know better.

Ultimately, Bleszinski sees the PC, tablet, and mobile phone market winning out — that is, if Apple doesn’t steal the spotlight from everyone.

Sure, Bleszinski might be seen as biased (he acknowledges that a lot, and refutes it regularly), but there’s still something poignant about his post. He’s seen the industry in a way few have, and his thoughts are no less valid than anyone else’s.

Do you agree with Bleszinski’s post? Where do you think his points are the strongest? The weakest?

Source: Cliff Bleszinski


TAGS: Microsoft, Xbox Live, Xbox One

  • dethfuse

    Honestly while I hate the idea of not actual owning things that I buy, if a company were to push digital only, that would be the way to do it. My biggest hate for the Xbone (before their u-turn) was that I, someone who actively uses Gamefly, would no longer be able to rent games. Without the ability to rent games, I might as well just buy a PC or quit gaming altogether. But if say the PS5 goes digital only and offers the services that Cliff mentioned above, I wouldn’t mind the switch as much.

    On a side note, wouldn’t it be awesome if the price of a game was determined by the metacritic score it received? So developers would take time making their games again.

    • ATG

      “wouldn’t it be awesome if the price of a game was determined by the metacritic score it received?”

      That’s such a flawed system.

      • Stephen

        How so? You cannot jsut call someone out as having a flawed idea for video game pricing. You should say actual theories like: Metacritic being payed off, short/clean/crisp game explosion, genre bias, more sequels.

        • skaar

          ill help out here …
          mass effect 3 this was a great game but the first month it had a meta critic score of 3.5
          because a select LOUD few created a internet movement to try and bully the developer to “give them what they want”. and to an extent it worked.
          this is not the way you want the industry to move in.

          • Jon

            Too bad for the silent majority then. Be loud or go home. End of story.

      • Mark

        Agreed. That would be like pricing a movie in theaters based on its Rotten Tomatoes rating. You don’t price things based on the opinions of a few. Its timeless qualities will result in longer-term (higher priced sales) and sequels of even greater hype. Take The Fast and the Furious (the first one) it has a rating of 53% from critics, since they review the movie first, they would have dictated the pricing of that movie from the start. Since then they have made 6 movies now and the 5th and 6th were both highly valued blockbusters. Reviews and rating are a terrible system to base expected consumer value.

    • Anthony Taormina

      Unfortunately, that would further put review scores into question, as a lot of people would assume publisher pressure influenced a score so they could charge more.

      I see what you are getting at, though – quality games are more expensive, but quality is too subjective nowadays.

    • Varteras

      In some ways how well a game does has already influenced prices. Games that don’t do so well normally end up dropping in price rather quickly whereas games like Elder Scrolls or Halo will stay their original price for maybe years after they are released. So, while it may not be necessarily based on score we have already seen prices affected by a game’s performance. I agree with ATG and Anthony. Making prices based on reviews would cause even more conspiracy theories than we already get. I mean holy crap did you see the backlash on the whopping four websites that gave The Last of Us less than a 9? How about the people who claimed Sony paid all those sites who gave the game a perfect score? Now take that and crank it up to 21 when people think they have a chance to drive prices down by complaining that Super Mario Galaxy should have received an average score of 2 because it’s an old franchise.

      • dethfuse

        They are very good points. Was just an idea. I have stopped buying games for $60 since most of the time the experience isn’t worth $60 even if it is really good. If the game is only fun to play through once then, IMO I don’t believe it is worth $60. That’s why I thought if games with low playability were to receive bad reviews and lower their initial cost from $60 to say $30, developers might actually change the way they make their games. Maybe if the government set up its own rating system that wasn’t biased and couldn’t be persuaded? But then we would be living in a perfect world… =P

    • The_Philosopher

      Doesn’t the idea of “not actually owning something” sound familiar?
      That’s right, Communism. The market is perverting Capitalism further with some of the ‘right’ infringing ideals Communism.

      • Varteras

        Communism isn’t the only system you can find yourself in that has you not actually owning something. Read up more on capitalism. A capitalist system does not guarantee that what you’re paying for is actually yours. A corporation can easily declare that what it’s selling is a license to operate a product and still be functioning well within the realm of capitalism. In this case, it’s not the government telling us what we own. It’s the corporation telling us what they’re actually selling.

        • The_Philosopher

          Thank you, an oversight on my part.

          I’ve just been noticing this trend over these past 10 years where we are selling less property, and instead selling more licenses. If this system continues to be abused, our Capitalism company ownership would be nearly indistinguishable from Communism government ownership.

          • Varteras

            In a few cases that is certainly true. To be honest though, I think the fear of communism is overblown most times. Not that I think people should be okay with it. Rather, that I think people too often are looking for a connection because they’re unhappy with current affairs and socialism/communism has become the boogeyman that people will claim is causing all of our problems. Runaway capitalism has every bit the potential to find us living under a system of oppression. That’s why so many nations who embrace the concept of capitalism also use elements of other systems to keep it in check. Look at it this way. These companies are doing what they can to maximize their own profits even if that means bending perceptions to do it. What is more capitalist than that? 😛

      • Stephen

        I am curious, which nation do you reign from where it’s free-market?

    • ATG

      1. The game has to release before there are metacritic scores. At what price does it release? People who pay $60 won’t be happy when others buy it for $30 a week later.

      2. People can purposely give it a low score without even owning the game to lower the cost.

      3. The scores hold little merit. There are gamers who hate EA so purposely score low. Or hate Mass Effect’s ending, so they’ll score low.

      It’s a flawed system with too many holes.

  • John Daniels

    It’s really very simple. Unlike buying and selling cars etc. gaming is more of a walled garden. At present there’s a door in that wall that allows users to buy and trade games using independent stores.

    Microsoft is very familiar with walled gardens, and has made it’s billions this way with the PC. It wants to do the same for gaming.

    So it’s in our interest to ensure the walls never go up fully, or Microsoft will just be able to dictate everything from cost to content.

    Anyone who suggests that the PC is the answer forgets that Microsoft already has a large slice of that pie. As consumers we need to push back to ensure we have the cost, variety and choice.

  • Ace

    I generally have had enough of Cliffy B becoming the “voice of reason” in the gaming industry…..but he’s right here.

    What Microsoft wanted to do wasn’t the problem….it’s their lack of full commitment as well as their inability to deliver a clear message about it that did them in.

  • Elitepwnsface

    I cring when i say this, but i have to agree with a lot of what he is saying. Microsoft should have been open to their policies and made it plain text simple for consumers. The 24 hour check thing was not cool. I think you should be able to log onto another xbox and play your games. Make it so you can only be online on one console though. I mean i have a gaming pc and a gaming laptop which i do this. There were tons of ways micro could have lead people.

    • Ace

      You could log into another system and play your games I believe.

      The 24 hour check wasn’t a big deal, but obviously could be an issue for some. But the fact you could use your phone for check in was a nice thing to hear. It’s highly unlikely that all cell towers and a persons Internet will both be out at the same time…let alone at once. And if they are it means some kind of massive blackout, so the console couldn’t turn on anyway.

      Like he said had Microsoft been clear from the beginning It would’ve probably been fine.

  • Chris

    Cliff loves to play with words. In his mind it is consumers fault for micro transactions. He believes game developers and producers are ENTITLED to spend rediculus amounts of money on projects. Xbox one was a horrific 1984 choice.

    Microsoft took away family sharing like a spoiled brat. I didn’t get what I want so no one gets what I have. Maybe Cliff and his developer and publisher friends should look at their problems as their problems. And stop making consumers pay door their stupidity.

    • ATG


      What on earth are you talking about?

      • Chris

        If you read his entire post instead of small pices. You would understand.

  • Cristov

    He’s right. Stores like GameStop are taking away their business. I stopped buying used games years ago after I learned more on how these companies operate, but this argument that games will begin to have more Day One DLC and micro-transactions in an attempt to tackle this issue is debatable. He knows this would happen with or without used-game restrictions, so to say that games are becoming a more watered down product because they’re allowed to carry on trading, is a poor excuse.

    Developers would continue to put content behind a pay-wall even if games went completely digital. Cliff has a right to his opinion, but he needs to stop being a white knight for everyone in the industry and realise that they would still take advantage of gamers even if the pre-owned market wasn’t available. I have no problem with Sony and Microsoft restricting used games on their console if it meant more value in content. I just fail to see how their money-making schemes would stop even if this was in place. In fact, it would probably get worse.

    If digital copies were available for $59.96 with a season pass included, it would turn more gamers away from buying used games. Continue on selling DLC to those with retail copies to entice them into buying the digital version. This could easily happen now, so what’s stopping them? It’s because they’re quite happy to charge everyone extra for season passes, etc. And the prices for digital games are still too expensive when compared to physical copies. They would still rather choose to make money by chopping up game content and selling it separately before trying to eliminate the pre-owned problem themselves.

  • OnePercent

    I was about to vow that I would never again buy anything that Cliff B ever had a hand in creating, then I looked at his wikipedia page and realized that I would have never bought any of the crap he produced in the first place! Seriously, it is pretty obvious why mediocre developer’s like this guy want DRM, they know they can’t compete in a truly free market.