Cliff Bleszinski is taking a break from game development, but he's certainly not leaving the industry. With his days as design director at Epic Games behind him, the man who helped introduce Gears of War and the cover system to gaming is thinking about his next project and talking to publishers who can help him bring a transmedia universe to life.
"Video games are like a religion; you want to get people tattooing your little logo on their body so they'll get somebody else interested in it too." --Cliff Bleszinski
Bleszinski recently gave the keynote address at the East Coast Games Conference in his current home town of Raleigh, North Carolina, then took some time to chat with us about some of the current events in gaming and what he's working now.
Game On: What role do you think Kickstarter opens up for big-name developers to go straight to their fans?
Cliff Bleszinski: There are multiple types of Kickstarters out there; we could do a whole separate interview about Kickstarter, but there are definitely some that feel like a developer's last shot of staying afloat. I find it disheartening when I see developers that have done so well for so many years turn to Kickstarter in a last-ditch attempt; it's almost like, "We can't keep our doors open, let's go to Kickstarter."
If it works for you, great, but it makes me sad that Kickstarter campaigns can be seen as a sign of desperation, as opposed to confidence.
I think the reason a lot of developers turn [to Kickstarter] is because nobody can give you millions of dollars without any strings attached. It's like you talk to the publisher and they're going to want to own the IP, they're going to want to control the marketing. My whole point about Kickstarter is that it's not just about the money. You get a built-in community and you get free marketing and PR stories out of it.
That said, it's starting to feel like now, when you talk about going to Kickstarter, you almost hear people's eyes rolling. I'm wondering what's next; there's gotta be some other way to do [game Kickstarters] where--and I don't have an answer--it doesn't feel like just a last-ditch Hail Mary for developers.
What's it been like jumping into the blogging space with Dude Huge Speaks?
CB: It's amazing. My thing is, I'm in a unique position where I've made my share of games over 20 years, and a lot of them have been in the "alpha shooter dude" genre. So when I speak up against the anger some male gamers have against female gamers I am told by a lot of feminist friends that that was a very important move, because my audience listens to me.
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