"Middle class games" that fall between AAA and indie stools don't stand a chance in the current climate, so says Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski.
During his 'Rise of the Power Creative' presentation at the Games Developer's Conference in San Francisco today, Bleszinski explained that in the current cluttered market, middling titles that don't do enough to stand out are going to fail.
"I'm going to go on the record and say that I believe the middle class game is dead," he said, before drawing an analogy with the movie business.
"It needs to either 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."
He went on to warn developers in the audience that gamers today demand value. Fail to offer it, and you're doomed.
"We have a cautious consumer," he explained. "There are so many articles about this right now. People are still smarting from the recession. People don't go to Target anymore and spend $200 randomly.
"If you're on forums and you see terms like 'day one rental' or 'campaign rental' – pack it in because your game is not going to sell."
Cliffy B's own next effort, Gears of War 3, will be vying for your hard-earned pennies on Xbox 360 in September. For more from the outspoken Epic design director, check out the latest episode of GDC After Dusk.