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Cliffy B, best known as the lead designer for Gears of War, is no stranger to controversy and his latest comments will probably incite a wrath of fury from the fat-cat suits who run most of their businesses around the idea of focusing on focus groups. Well, Cliff Bleszinski bluntly said at a quick GDC speech that focus groups suck. The statement arrived after he poured out a wealth of information for up-and-coming developers, and basically warned them to stay away from the dreaded focus groups.
The news comes courtesy of Develop who managed to capture the quote in all its glory. Cliffy B., was one of the many developers allotted a small amount of time to talk about the gaming industry and most of his time was spent giving advice to indie devs and some "dos" and "don'ts" to consider when trying to break into the industry. Before ending The Cliffster said the following..."screw focus groups, they suck and need to go away."
It could be that focus groups help steer the general direction of a game's design for many big budget projects as opposed to the designers just doing what they do best. Oftentimes focus groups will chime in with important game changing suggestions or questions, like: should it have multiplayer? Should the multiplayer be cooperative or competitive or both? Should there be some feigned sense of romance tossed in for a feigned sense of emotional connection? Should there be more blood when kicking someone in the face? Should a third of the game's content be locked away as on-disc DLC?
Anyways, don't get hung up on avoiding focus groups. Cliffzinski also mentioned that you need to keep cracking that whip on your design concepts and gameplay implementations. In other words, keep what works and scrap the rest. Don't hesitate to axe content that you spent months working on that doesn't actually work. Makes sense, right?
You can check out a few more of the keynotes from his GDC speech over at Develop...and remember, focus groups suck because the Cliffmeister said so.