Friday Flame Wars: CliffyB Mans The Barricades


Yesterday, CliffyB took to his personal blog with an ammunition belt full of conventional wisdom. Over the course of a lengthy, meandering post, the former Epic honcho defended the game industry’s most controversial practices, particularly its clampdown on used games and its growing love of microtransactions.

His argument basically boils down to: “game companies have to make money and pay salaries, so they should do whatever works.” It didn’t convince us — see Phil Hornshaw’s response on this very site — but did it convince you at all? In this week’s Friday Flame Wars, we ask: can microtransactions and other newfangled revenue streams really be defended?

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9 Comments on Friday Flame Wars: CliffyB Mans The Barricades


On March 1, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Of course hes defending it. Wouldnt you if the company you were lucky enough to work for let you create your game. Companies have a budget from the start to determine how to estimate how long the project will take in account of how much they need to pay there employers for the time. You dont start a project without crunching those numbers.

The problem is that what they are doing is they are creating the game and figuring out what they need to remove and sell seperate as DLC. Whether its a map, characters, weapons, armor, Dungeons(Darksiders 2), planets(Mass Effect), bosses, clothing, cars, Endings(Asuras Wrath), Episodes (Walking Dead), resourses(Dead Space 3) and Multiplayer. Whats next XP, Abilities, ammo, items such as health drinks and gear. They have to have a final product because they have to test it to see if it works when the remove it and place it back in or unlock from the disc.

So all this stuff removed is the profit they are making from us the consumer that paid for a full game but are denied the rest of the content. So its more like the are giving you the middle finger with one hand while the other hand is in your wallet.

No next gen for me. Im done with all this and everyone should be as well until everthing goes back to the way it was.


On March 1, 2013 at 6:21 pm

@Michael I’ve seen the future… In terms of visible unfair charging practices it gets worse… way worse, but the old crowd will even ignore it all for ‘the graphical immersion’, ‘the fun gameplay’ and some ‘bland gimmickery’.


On March 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

@Michael Totally agree with you. As for the next gen systems whether I buy it or not, seeing that I have hardly heard any games coming out for the next gen system. I don’t see myself getting any new system anytime soon. The only games I have heard that’s coming out is BF 4 and DA 3. If you don’t like those game then don’t bother.


On March 1, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Can they be defended? Absolutely. There are undoubtedly companies that use micro-transactions and even DLC as viable and fair revenue streams and not as an attempt to nickle and dime their customers. The issue, however, is with companies like EA that toss out day one DLC (usually from stuff that was simply blocked from the release) and think of micro-transactions as easy money. And that’s exactly what they think of it as…and that’s exactly why they’re going to force them into every damn game that they can.

My problem is that there has been a seismic shift by several big-game developers to begin treating their customers combatively, be it trying to pull as much money as they can from us for smaller and smaller amounts of content, or simply beating their consumers down with irritating and, in most cases, fruitless DRM that have a larger effect on customers than on pirates.

They’re attacking those that pay their salaries, and I’ve grown weary of it. I’m not going to pay for an EA game anymore. I haven’t purchased a single EA game since Mass Effect 3, and I will refrain from doing so until guys like John Riccietello understand that I am not a drug addict who they need to take as much money for as little content as they can. I will continue to gladly support the guys like Runic Games who, while undoubtedly imperfect, at least seem to have an understanding that if they treat their customers with respect and don’t attempt to gouge for every last penny in their pocket that they can still carve out a profit. True, they aren’t a massive studio, but I have a hard time believe that the same massive studio couldn’t operate in a similar manner.

It just utterly astounds me how little CliffyB seems to understand the complaints that people have against EA. Particularly when he wants to attempt to compare Valve and TF2 to EA. That is the stupidest comparison that I have ever seen made. Ignoring (totally not ignoring) that the difference in the initial buying price is $60 between Dead Space 3 and Team Fortress 2, he fails to understand the difference between 100% cosmetic choices in micro-transactions and actual in-game benefits to those choices.

Not to mention that he totally ignores something that somebody brings up that’s extremely poignent. Since the release of Team Fortress 2 in 2007 EA has released 4 iterations (5th planned for next year) of the Battlefield franchise and 4 iterations of the Medal of Honor franchise, and that’s not even going into the increasingly expensive DLC for each game. But yeah, that’s totatly comparable to a game that’s lasted 5+ years, requires $0 to play fully, and has micro-transactions.

And all of this is not to mention how utterly often games are released by companies as unfinished piles of steaming . Mass Effect 3? Cliffy B’s own Gears of War 2? The horrific mess that is Aliens? Diablo 3?

Ultimately, like an , he totally glosses over a lot of what people are REALLY upset by either misstating their frustrations in general or missing the point entirely. People could ultimately care less about COSMETIC micro-transactions. I don’t understand how he can’t differentiate between a meaningless pet or diamond ring and crafting supplies in a game. I don’t understand how he mistakes anger at day one DLC and DLC that’s been pulled from a game to be sold seperately with irritation at ALL DLC.

I enjoy and respect those that do DLC, expansions, and microtransactions. I’m fine with paying developers for their time. What I’m not fine with is a developer trying to suck every last dime from my pocket while telling me games are cheaper than they’ve ever been (as John Riccietello talks about spending $5000 in a year on DLC/microtransactions).


On March 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Also, case in point that I would absolutely positively f&%*ing LOVE to see CliffyB defend in his little “woe is EA mentality”: Real Racing 3.

Tell me again how “similar” EA is to Valve, Cliffy. Then take whatever you say and shove it up your…backside. To those that defend this sort of practice, just WAIT until EA expands upon the idea, and brings it to more platforms if it turns out to be successful at all.


On March 1, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Can the major companies stop pretending they are hurting for money?

Electronic Arts being the worst offender at this point especially needs to end this.

From what people have been talking about lately in office the profit figures are roughly 120 dollars per unit sold of a game because of the micro-transactions and DLC [Day One and later stuff] involved.

Battlefield 3 was pulling in around 50,000 a day due to it’s server rental and Premium accounts.
Mass Effect 3 was pulling in close to 70,000 with it’s gear packs attached to micro-transactions.
Dead Space was earning close to 60,000 a day when it launched.

These mega companies are not poor and they need to seriously stop acting like they are barely scrimping by on the crumbs they can squeeze from us greed consumers.


On March 2, 2013 at 3:31 am

In a world where the pen is mightier than the sword, the wallet as become the greatest and most devastating weapon we have ever seen.

People like CliffyB are no different from the nomadic hunters of 300+ years ago. Always following the migration of herds for a continued supply of meat. Though nowadays, the herds are gamers and the meat is money. So why does he seem to think the money is leading him to microtransactions? Because its what gamers are spending their money on.

No matter how badly “professional” and amateur reviewers might have decried the use of MTX in DeadSpace 3, Just last week EA released a statement saying they are going ahead with adding MTX to all of their games because of how well received this feature was in DS3. My initial reaction was “well received my a$$! Thats complete and utter horsesh!t!”. Then I thought about it for awhile and the thought hit me out of nowwhere, that EA isnt paying attention to what saying about the game and its MTX, but instead paying attention to the financial side of it. People were speaking with their wallets instead of their words, hence my opening statement.


On March 2, 2013 at 4:52 am

Axetwin – to further your point, I’ll bring this back to Mass Effect 3. After Citadel was released and Jessica Merizan confirmed it would not have post-ending content, a user on Twitter asked her why BioWare was still ignoring the fan consensus. Merizan’s answer was that critics of the ending were not in the majority, although when she was pressed to provide statistical evidence of this she refused. CleverNoob released a great video shortly afterwards in response called “Numbers Don’t Lie – BioWare’s Fan Majority Still Upset,” which is on Youtube if anyone wishes to see just how heavily contradicted Merizan’s statement truly is, and routinely has been over a period of almost a year. The problem, of course, is that people are still buying the DLC, and as long as that income is still coming into EA’s accounts, nobody could care less about whether the quality is abysmal or not. Hell, I’m as much to blame as anyone, since despite loathing the ending and having no intention of buying any more BioWare titles, I have been getting the story DLC for ME3 because I want to see everything the trilogy has to offer. The difference is, I’m doing this for me, not for BioWare. The BioWare that enticed me to the original game doesn’t exist anymore. I sure as hell don’t feel like I ‘owe’ the company anything after the way I, and hundreds of thousands of others, have been treated by them and their sub-intellectual shields in mainstream outlets for the crime of finding obvious, irrefutable flaws and consumer betrayals in their game. BioWare and EA know that people like myself exist, and are bleeding us dry as long as they can with Omega’s ridiculous overpricing and I imagine Citadel’s similar cost,before they’re forced to turn on the histrionics and trick another new fanbase into joining the delusional remains of the previous lot. It angers me, but I already passed the Rubicon by getting From Ashes when it came out, genuinely thinking it would be optional additional content instead of absolutely vital stuff that was partially on the disk already. If I’d known what I do now about From Ashes and how the story ends, I probably would never have even bought the game. As it is, I’m stuck in something of a limbo. My solution, as already mentioned, is to get the remaining story DLC then cut all ties with BioWare, never to allow myself to enjoy or invest in anything these pseudo-storytellers ever try to pass off as fan service ever again. It’s not ideal, it means that I’m briefly feeding their greed, but it’ll be over after next week.


On March 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm

These practices can be defended if developers can prove that some factor is different now to what it was five years ago. Because if a game’s price is the same (You know, when you pay money. To the developers. So they can make money. From a game.) and a game’s quality is still the same, it can’t logically be anything other than a clever way to ramp up profit at the consumer’s expense.
Do not pay for microtransactions.
EA is Satan.
That is all.