A studio making a "middle class" game might as well scrap the project now, Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski told an audience at GDC last night. Unless your game is triple-A or indie you don't stand a chance.
"I'm going to go on the record and say that I believe the middle class game is dead," said Bleszinski during his 'Rise of the Power Creative' presentation.
Making an analogy with the movie industry, he added: "It needs to 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. I'll go to The Rialto or I'll go to the AAA Imax movie. The middle one is just gone, and I think the same thing has happened to games."
Thankfully for Bleszinski, Gears of War 3 sits firmly in the triple-A category.
It's an interesting idea, but surely one which publishers face a huge risk in following. Triple-A titles don't come cheap, and while there is the potential for massive success there remains a good chance the game will fail to meet targets.
Is Namco Bandai's Enslaved a middle class game? The Ninja Theory developed title had great production values, Hollywood talent and an engaging story, yet was a commercial flop. Perhaps when held up against genre rival Uncharted 2, Enslaved does fall into no-man's land.