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Epic: "The Middle Class Game Is Dead"

Jonathan Lester
AAA, Cliff Bleszinski, Cliffy B, Epic Games, Games news, GDC 2011, Indie Games

Only Room For AAA And Indie In Today's Marketplace

Epic: "The Middle Class Game Is Dead"

Epic Games CEO Cliff "Cliffy B" Bleszinski believes that the gaming market has changed over the last few years, and warns publishers that it's simply not okay to release half-decent games any more. According to Epic, only the biggest blockbuster triple-A titles and smaller Indie releases will ever sell in large numbers, with the "Middle Class" game doomed to obscurity and poor sales. He might have a point, actually.

Speaking at his 'Rise To Power' GDC panel, the influential figure warns that the current glutted marketplace simply doesn't allow for the medium-budget filler releases that tend to clutter the shelves in previous years.

I'm going to go on the record and say that I believe the middle class game is dead.

Bleszinski illustrated his point by drawing on an analogy with feature films. After all, we all flock to see massive blockbusters and smaller arthouse films at the cinema, but tend to wait for the middle-of-the-road releases on DVD.

It needs to either be either an event movie – day one, company filed trip, Battlefield: LA, we're there. Avatar – we're there. The Other Guys starring Will Ferrell and Marky Mark? Nah, I'll f****** rent that, I don't really care - right?

Or it has to be an indie film. Black Swan – I'll go and see that.

So why is it not okay just to be a half-decent smaller game any more? It's all down to us consumers - as well as our lighter wallets in the face of the global financial crisis. Apparently we're only willing to spend our hard-earned cash on the biggest (and most hyped) games of the year as well as Indie projects that command a pocket money price tag. We also demand more bang for our buck, meaning that good value is often key to a game's success.

We have a cautious consumer. People are still smarting from the recession. People don't go to Target anymore and spend $200 randomly.

If you're on forums and you see terms like 'day one rental' or 'campaign rental' – pack it in because your game is not going to sell.

So there. There's a lot of truth to what Cliffy has to say... but here's hoping that worthwhile smaller projects don't get kicked to the curb for fear of financial ruin. [EG]

Is the middle class game a thing of the past? Want to extol the virtues of the middle ground market? Have your say in the comments!

Add a comment2 comments
Jose  Mar. 4, 2011 at 12:55

Of CliffyB, could there be a more egotistical douchebag in the industry? I think not.

Steve  Mar. 4, 2011 at 14:58

He makes a good point though, and no doubt Epic have seen all sides of the story. Gears 3 will be preordered in droves because everyone wants to play it immediately; most people can wait for a price drop on Bulletstorm. Loads of people snapped up Shadow Complex close to release because it was cheap

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