Bleszinski Predicts More Micro-Transactions Without Xbox One DRM

Cliff Bleszinski was apparently so convinced the Xbox One's DRM model would result in cheaper games he is now predicting the cash-grabbing to intensify with more micro-transactions everywhere. Because we definitely don't see publishers putting them in every game they can already.
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With yesterday’s announcement of Microsoft completely reversing the Xbox One’s DRM and used game restrictions, gamers have been not-so-quietly exultant.  It is a triumph of the speed of communication and the unwillingness to be taken advantage of for the sake of profit.  Obviously, however, someone had to think it was a bad idea.  It honestly is not surprising one of those someones is Cliff Bleszinski.

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Cliff Bleszinski seems to think the lack of such heavily-restricting DRM services, particularly regarding the sharing and trading of used games, will make the current state of affairs regarding micro-transactions and frivolous download content worse.

That prediction seems… late

In an era of mobile games with single instances of DLC costing upwards of $60 (purchased using the cash currency at left) it seems a bit melodramatic to proclaim the micro-transactions and associated greed will only now become endemic.  The inclusion of micro-transactions in Dead Space 3 had nothing to do with a lack of DRM or the ability to trade the game, and everything to do with the potential of a survival-based video game having ways of making survival easier if you give the publisher a few dollars more.

Once again this comes right back down to the same issue it always has.  Publishers do not throw in every possible way they can think of to grub a few extra dollars out of every game simply to meet expenses.  They do it for the same reasons those games have become so wildly expensive in the first place: to please their corporate investors.

Business as usual

These publishers are, as Cliff Bleszinski is so quick to point out, businesses and given that fact there seems a very logical progression.  The cost of AAA games went up so high not because it was demanded by the gamers buying them, as Bleszinski regularly tells us, but because it gets very expensive trying to appeal to the mass market.  Games start to look similar to one another when they appeal to the same demographic, which also increases the amount each game needs to spend on marketing to actually distinguish itself from its peers.

This was not caused by used games

Similarly, these micro-transaction schemes and “tacked on multiplayer” are not a response to any particular expense so much as a realization of the possible profit they can bring.  EA has officially told consumerist they can stop complaining about microtransactions because millions of people use them, and while EA was panned (rightly) for the logic it actually is the logic of a business.  It makes money and is legal, so it is okay.  The idea that having a way to give publishers money through the used games market might reduce the prevalence of these money-making concepts is ludicrously optimistic and naive.

Bad for the industry

Even worse, Bleszinski is also predicting entire game studios closing as a result of Xbox One’s DRM being reversed.  “More studios WILL close and you’ll see more PC and mobile games,”  I am definitely going to agree with Jim Sterling on this one and say good riddance.  If one console not applying such controlling and restrictive measures to curtail the abilities of its consumers to trade their paid-for property freely is honestly enough to cause multiple game publishers to actually fail, then the industry is somehow actually in more trouble than I thought.

The worst part of all of Mr. Bleszinski’s claims is the total lack of evidence behind any of it.  Where is the study showing how removing a used game market positively impacts sales?  Where are the testimonials of people saying they would spend more money on games without a cheaper alternative?

I respect your opinion, Mr. Bleszinski, but I should not need to remind you that an opinion it is.  There are dozens of game companies doing fine in a world full of used games, many of them producing discs for consoles.  Maybe it is time to figure out what they are doing differently.

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.