Bleszinski: Console digital shift still happening

Bleszinski: Console digital shift still happening
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

June 21st 2013 at 11:45AM

Microsoft and Sony will implement slow and subtle move to online on next-gen hardware

The shift to extensive digital offerings on the Xbox One and PS4 will still happen despite Microsoft’s recent U-turn on its online and used games policies, says Cliff Bleszinski.

In a new blog post, the Gears of War creator said however, given the backlash against digital on consoles, the move would be slow and subtle.

He stated consumers could expect to start seeing more downloadable content and more microtransactions in games as the transition to digital takes place. He also said games sold digitally at the same time as retail could eventually be cheaper and come with extra benefits to tempt users away from packaged retail.

“So here’s what’s going to happen now that Microsoft has largely matched Sony’s (well played) move at E3,” said Bleszinski.

“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 said he recognised however that some of Microsoft’s Xbox One policies, and its messaging in trying to promote a digitally-focused console, were poorly considered, and that that he would have tried to “positively motivate” consumers to go online.

He explained that Valve’s digital distribution platform Steam works because it doesn’t force users to stay online, but encourages users to stay connected through a strong ecosystem featuring sales, indie games and a vibrant community, whereas Microsoft were simply attempting to catch its users doing something wrong with its daily check-ins.

The industry veteran concluded by saying he felt PC, mobile and tablets would come out on top in the near future, and a rethink was needed on pre-owned and the console game industry to help developers cope with ever rising development and marketing costs.

“My money is on the PC, mobile and tablets for the near future,” he said.

“I wandered around E3 looking at (too many) fantastic games shaking my head and worrying about how many are going to be deemed a failure due to the fact that yes, it may have sold four million copies, but it cost too much to make and market, so it was a wash. (Do your homework, several very high profile games have had this issue and no, I’m not going to call them out here.)”