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Bleszinski on PS4, three keys to winning next-gen

Bleszinski on PS4, three keys to winning next-gen

Fri 22 Feb 2013 4:09pm GMT / 11:09am EST / 8:09am PST
Hardware

Former Epic designer offers cheers for DualShock 4, jeers for Vita integration and returning IP

Former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski is taking a break from active game development, but he's clearly still keeping tabs on the industry. After Sony's PlayStation 4 press conference earlier this week, Bleszinski posted his thoughts on the show to his Tumblr blog, offering some praise, some scorn, and three keys he sees as crucial to winning the next-generation console wars.

Starting with the positive, Bleszinski lauded the decision to have Mark Cerny introduce the hardware, saying the veteran developer was "perfect" in the role and likening him to an American version of Peter Molyneux for his captivating sincerity. Bleszinski also gave high marks to the new DualShock 4 controller, saying it appeared to have more comfortable thumb sticks than its predecessors, and a more solid build all around.

It wasn't all praise from Bleszinski. For one, the developer questioned the decision to make Cerny's family friendly Knack among the first wave of PS4 games.

"I can't help but wonder why one would make a younger skewing title such as that for the early cycle of a console when the first buyers are usually the earliest adopters who are the older crowd with the most money," Bleszinski said.

He also took issue with some of the returning series Sony showcased. He was disappointed to see Guerrilla making another Killzone instead of a new intellectual property, and was similarly dismayed by Sucker Punch's reveal for Infamous: Second Son.

"There is never a better time to launch new Intellectual Property in video games than at a console transition. Gears and Halo 'got' this."

Cliff Bleszinski

"Infamous games are fantastic but never seemed to sell as well as they should have and it feels like someone in marketing got nervous launching an all new world so they had to fall back to the Infamous branding," Bleszinski said. "Watch Dogs stole E3 last year partially because it was a whole new 'thing' and not 'Assassin's Creed: 2024' edition...There is never a better time to launch new Intellectual Property in videogames than at a console transition. Gears and Halo 'got' this."

Sony's continued attempts to push PlayStation Vita integration during the event were another sore spot for Bleszinski. The second-screen experience Sony is chasing may be something consumers want, but the developer said people already have all the second screens they need with their cell phones and tablets.

Finally, Bleszinski laid out the three big keys that he thinks will determine the winners and losers in the next generation. The first key is the games, naturally. The second key is the ecosystem, as Bleszinski pointed out that getting iTunes and the App Store just right were instrumental in Apple's success.

The third key for success in the next generation will be the ability to adapt, Bleszinski said. New hardware should be able to pass "the Minecraft test," which is basically a question of whether or not the platform is open and flexible enough that it could spawn the next Minecraft-style hit.

"If the hardware is great and the system sound then the biggest deciding factor will be how much each console creator allows the community to take over in an organic fashion," Bleszinski said. "It sounds like the Sharing feature is a great step. The next one? Indie games, mods, user levels...you know, the things that the PC is so darned good at."

18 Comments

Andrea Wästlund
Student

7 19 2.7
Popular Comment
"The first buyers are usually the earliest adopters who are the older crowd with the most money..."

...and children. Even at a lower price point, a console is a big spend for a lot of people. It's easier to justify that cost if everyone in the family can enjoy it. Including Knack in the early line-up makes perfect sense to me.

Posted:A year ago

#1

James Brightman
Editor in Chief

221 248 1.1
Popular Comment
I understand Cliff's point, but it doesn't have to be thought of as games for children. I mean plenty of adults like these games. I enjoy Ratchet & Clank, I enjoy Mario, etc. They are games for "all ages" more than for children.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Kevin Danaher
Associate Producer

45 62 1.4
I actually said almost the exact opposite the other day, along the lines of... "I like the look of Watch Dogs, it feels very Assassin's Creed 2020 and I'd buy that."

Posted:A year ago

#3

Kevin Patterson
musician

182 96 0.5
For the US, Cliff is right that the hardcore games are what sells systems at first, but they stated that the reveal was being shown in Japan, and those kind of titles do better in japan than Killzone types. Knack wasn't the game I would have opened the show with though, that was the first PS4 game shown.

For the hardcore, I think Killzone did a great job of capturing that attention. I'm sure we have great things to see when E3 hits this year. Watch Dogs looks great and I cannot wait to play it, but Cliff is right about new IP, i hope we see new IP at E3 for the PS4.

Posted:A year ago

#4

John Kauderer
Associate Creative Director

30 3 0.1
I think Cliff is pretty spot on. Knack looked interesting but for the older gamer that style can be a big turn off . Making it your first impression for a new uber-console is a debatable tactic at best. That being said had there been any other big new IP that stood out, Knack might have left me with more of a favorable impression.

It certainly didn't help that we were shown mostly sequels to games that have had an OK impact (Are there any hard core crazy Killzone fans out there? I've never met one.) or games that we've seen already (Less enthused about Watch Dogs every day I remember it's not being made by the Deus Ex team). At least Knack is a new IP that appears to push the boundaries of gameplay.

Still, it's sad to think that this is from the company that for the PS1 took some big risks and launched quite a few bold and buzz worthy games back in the day. I can't help but feel like PlayStation has lost it's way a bit.

If I had to give a grade for the reveal I'd give it a C+.

Posted:A year ago

#5
Popular Comment
Perhaps what disturbed Cliff about Knack is that even in that brief glimpse it seemed to offer a more mature perspective on war than Gears of War ever did. Playing as a cutting edge anthropomorphized weapon sounds quite intriguing indeed, and there was even a moral question raised in the trailer. "Why do you fight for the humans Knack? You're not one of them." I don't think cartoons should be dismissed out of hand as child like, and I'm glad that Sony doesn't feel the need to patronize audiences with roided out dude bros. Gamers should be treated as an audience, not a demographic.

Posted:A year ago

#6

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

479 444 0.9
"Sony's continued attempts to push PlayStation Vita integration during the event were another sore spot for Bleszinski. The second-screen experience Sony is chasing may be something consumers want, but the developer said people already have all the second screens they need with their cell phones and tablets."
Kinda missing the point. Cell phones and tablets don't have physical controls. Vita has pretty much a full set of console controls, therefore you can stream console games to it and play them seamlessly, just like you would on a DualShock (more or less), but without having to be in front of a TV tuned to your PS4. For me that's a big selling point, as I have to share the TV with my wife and would love to be able to play games while she's watching TV. Somehow I can't imagine playing PS4 games on an iPad with half the screen full of virtual sticks and buttons, or having to keep switching between my phone and my DualShock to do different things in the game.

Having a tablet or smartphone handy to look up FAQs and playthrough videos if I get stuck and stuff like that is great, but that's a completely different kind of second screen experience to what Remote Play, using your Vita as a PS3 or PS4 controller, or the Wii U Gamepad can do. There's room for both.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
"Sony's continued attempts to push PlayStation Vita integration during the event were another sore spot for Bleszinski. The second-screen experience Sony is chasing may be something consumers want, but the developer said people already have all the second screens they need with their cell phones and tablets."

Completely agree. A sad and rather redundant way to push Vita. At the Future of PlayStation, Sony's floundering portable was passed off as an extension of PS4, rather than a system in its own right. I think that's a huge shame and will do next to nothing for Vita's long-term future. It's definitely bad for Vita as a stand alone system.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 22nd February 2013 6:27pm

Posted:A year ago

#8

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

869 1,277 1.5
I agree with Cliff. I think Sony should have chose a better new IP to show off as the first PS4 game instead of Snack or whatever that game is called. As for Killzone, it doesn't sell nearly as well as a COD, Battlefield or Halo fps but it's a Sony exclusive so they have to keep going back to that well. As for Vita integration, I think it would work alot better if they sold the PS4 and Vita in bundles. But because you have to buy each seperately it will severely limit the potential audience for games that incorporate Vita as a controller/second screen option.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

277 797 2.9
I'm with James on this. It reminded me of something Pixar might create, not just in visual styling, but in its seeming ability to appeal to all ages through layering. I would buy Knack.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 23rd February 2013 8:29am

Posted:A year ago

#10

David Serrano
Freelancer

298 270 0.9
James Brightman:

Exactly. Family friendly means accessible and enjoyable for kids, teens, parents and in some cases... grandparents.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,011 1,408 1.4
Same Dan. I think it was more interesting than Killzone 4, personally. A lot less games like Knack out there than there are military shooters.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Dominic Jakube
Student

92 13 0.1
He also took issue with some of the returning series Sony showcased. He was disappointed to see Guerrilla making another Killzone instead of a new intellectual property, and was similarly dismayed by Sucker Punch's reveal for Infamous: Second Son.[/quote

And this differs from the three,soon to be four Gears Of War games how?

Posted:A year ago

#13

Eoin Moran
Studying Bachelor of Engineering

35 32 0.9
I'm actually kind of pleased that Knack was the first game shown, to me it made a statement that the PS4 will be about more than the dirty coloured dude-bro shooters that were synonymous of the current gen. I also know a lot more adult gamers (ie. 'early adopters')who are fond of platform games than younger gamers (I tried playing the playstation with my 12 year old nephew over Christmas and all he cared about was battlefield), I can only guess it is because we all grew up with segas and nintendos (nintendoes?).

On the other hand, even though I think I will really enjoy playing Knack, the trailer wasn't that great. The voice acting really let it down

Posted:A year ago

#14

Adam Coate
CEO & Founder

34 34 1.0
Knack was actually the only thing interesting to me in the PS4 reveal. Obviously Capcom's Deep Down looked very impressive but that was pre-rendered.

This may sound crazy, but does the PS4 really *need* to be a new piece of hardware? Sony spent $380 million on Gaikai, and all they're going to use it for is to stream demos, stream to Vita, and possibly for PS3 backwards compatibility. What if they used Playstation Cloud for "forwards compatibility". Someone on IGN suggested letting PS3 owners stream PS4 demos right now to get a glimpse. But what if PS4 was all cloud-based? Hardware is a loss-leader business anyway, there is NO money in video game hardware. So now they have ~80 million PS3s that they can potentially sell software for, and they're going to make them all obsolete and start completely over? Make it so they can only sell to maybe 5 million Playstation owners next year instead of 20 times that? It makes no financial sense to me.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Coate on 24th February 2013 9:59am

Posted:A year ago

#15

Eric Leisy
VR Production Designer

114 124 1.1
This article makes me feel like Cliff forgot he created the most ultimate dude bro games ever. And the anti-women character speech coming from his gears of war camp is just completely lame.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,134 1,039 0.5
Obviously Capcom's Deep Down looked very impressive but that was pre-rendered.
Is there 100% proof that it was all pre-rendered? I noted a few issues in the animation and a few other elements that made it look more like some sort of work in progress or a real-time demo of what was possible with the engine more than actual gameplay from anything that's anywhere near complete. Of course, that might put it in Killzone 2 E3 footage territory, but I don't think Capcom would pull a stupid stunt like that after what Guerrilla went through after that was shown to be not what it was "supposed" to be.

I thought Knack looked great in that "sense of wonder activated!" way those early to mid-era PS1 3D platformers did when they were introduced to gamers. I got the feeling that the game might be a hit in the vein of the early Spyro/Crash games mixed with the Jak & Daxter/Ratchet & Clank games where you got a fun game and a character that had some interesting skills. I just hope it's not all polygons falling apart and hundreds of pieces scattered about every ten seconds or that effect will get played out before the game is half done. That said, I trust Cerny and company to get it all right...

Posted:A year ago

#17

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