The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles is wrap, and one of the games conspicuously absent from the three-day event was one of the largest in the world — FarmVille. Even at the big-budget press conferences for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, there was ne’er a peep about the farming game, and it’s not clear whether video game companies don’t see Facebook games as competition or they just don’t know what to make of the simple farming simulation with over 60 million monthly players.
We found at least one person who was willing to acknowledge FarmVille, however. Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski, who, ironically, heads up one of the bloodiest shooters currently on the market. We asked him if he has any plans to take the best-selling game franchise to any other platforms, including Facebook, and while he says that’s uncertain, he gives props to the new social gaming segment that has exploded in the past year.
“Gears of FarmVille?” he jokes after we pose the question. “You know it’s fun to hate on FarmVille, but they obviously did something right. I think the rest of the industry is looking at this as far as their game design — reciprocity and how to have everybody else publicize your game, whether they want to or not. Skip! Skip! (mimics skipping friends’ FarmVille requests on Facebook).
Our [game] engine is up running on iPhone and iPad… but we’ll see as far as our actual games, and what happens in the future. It’s hard to ignore those numbers, and it’s hard to ignore the fractured market, which it is right now. A few years ago it was like ‘Oh yeah, there’s Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC.’ Now we have PC, MMOs, browser-based games, Facebook-based games, iPad games, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox and then Kinect, PlayStation Move, PlayStation 3 and it’s like there’s 4 million different categories, which quite frankly terrifies me, and I think the industry is a little bit nervous about it. ”
On Gears of War, women and the new gun-toting, alien-killing ladies in the game
“It’s weird with Gears, man — and I don’t know if this is just anecdotal evidence with Twitter and the Internet — but I swear Gears has a bigger female audience than a lot of shooters. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that the story tries to have elements that are a little bit deeper or resonate more with personal family issues and things like that. Maybe it’s the pacing of the game, taking cover and then pop up at your leisure, maybe it’s the co-op. I don’t know what it is, but by adding a female Gears it’s one of those things that I’ve had so many girls say, “Oh my god, thank you so much for adding them”, and more importantly thank you for adding them and making them attractive but not making them look like strippers or booth babes or girls on the cover of Low Rider magazine.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of thing, but that’s not us. Right? You know, we have our violence and we have our tongue-in-cheek over the top moments, but we didn’t want to be the game that has the “boob physics” We didn’t want to have girls running into combat wearing thongs, because that’s just not us… we want to be mature with how we take females seriously in the game.”
On using the Xbox 360 Kinect Hardware to play Gears
Yeah, we’re getting dev kits and we’re going to play with it a little bit. I can assume everybody that it’s definitely not going to be in Gears 3. It’s just not appropriate. I don’t want it to be like something where it’s like, “Oh, now you chainsaw by going like that [mimics chainsawing something]. But I’m intrigued by the technology. I think the first generation is always like, “Wow, look at me, it’s a Dance Dance Party thing,’ and that’s cute and that’s fine, and there’s a market for that. If you look at the Wii games that resonate the most, they’re kind of a hybrid. Mario Galaxy where you play, then waggle here and there. They pace it out well and it’s kind of a mix — that’s the kind of game that I want to see. I think a Heavy Rain type game on that would be amazing. Get some of the performance capture that they’re using where you can see that it’s an actor, get great writing, get great motion controls, voice controls and you can have a whole genre there that cracks wide open.