In defense of in-game micro-transactions

You may not recognize the name Cliff Bleszinski, but if you’re a fan of Epic’s Gears of War franchise, you undoubtedly have seen his work.

Bleszinski now calls himself “a formerly employed videogame ninja” and spends some of his time posting to his personal blog titled Clifford Unchained.

Interestingly, Bleszinski took some time in a recent blog post to defend the videogame industry and the ever-increasing tendency to use micro-transactions and DLC.

Quite a lot of gamers, myself included, don’t really like the idea of micro-transactions in video games. Indeed, sometimes video games feel like they’re designed specifically to push players towards spending their money to accomplish goals in missions and advance in the game.

Bleszinski offers insight as to why the game industry is moving this way. He said of the game industry, “…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.”

He also notes that it takes tens of millions of dollars to produce a high-quality game and if you add in marketing costs an AAA title can easily reach $100 million or over to produce and market. Basically, to be able to produce these high-end video games that we all know and love, Bleszinski says the companies need to make money anywhere and everywhere they can.

He said, “Another factor to consider is the fact that many game development studios are in places like the San Francisco bay area, where the cost of living is extraordinarily high. (Even Seattle is pretty pricey these days.) Those talented artists, programmers, designers, and producers that spent their time building the game you love? They need to eat and feed their families. (Something that the hipster/boomerang kid generation seems to forget all too often.)”

After talking about the need to make money, Bleszinski wades into it coming out and saying that he is tired of EA being seen as an evil force in the industry. He said, “I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m tired of EA being seen as ‘the bad guy.’ I think it’s bullshit that EA has the ‘scumbag EA’ memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong.” Cliff is quick to point out that he doesn’t dislike Valve and has friends at the studio.

Bleszinski talks quite a bit more about various subjects and you can read it all on his blog here.