Warren Spector Doesn’t Think Lollipop Chainsaw Should Have Been Made

Warren Spector Doesn’t Think Lollipop Chainsaw Should Have Been Made

Warren Spector, one of the most respected game designers out there and the lead creator of the revered Deus Ex, did something unusual for a game designer today. At a talk at the DICE convention in Las Vegas, he named a name… or at least he let one of his slides name the name of a game that he says “should just not be made”.

The game? Warner Brothers and Grasshopper Manufacture’s violent, lowbrow game Lollipop Chainsaw on the screen.

This came up as Spector took his small audience of a few hundred game designers, executives and reporters through a personal journey, charting his changes as a gamer and game designer from his 20s to his 50s. (He’s 57.33 now, he helpfully noted.)

Early in the talk, he made a point about how he used to want longer games. As he got older, he had less time for them and now craves shorter ones.

“It’s not just about time. It’s not just about giving me shorter experiences. It’s about the content. My interests in content have changed dramatically and I suspect this is true for many of you. There are some games the should just not be made, by the way…”

At that moment, Spector showed an image of Lollipop Chainsaw. This would not be the first time Spector has complained about today’s hyper-violent video games. But he’s not gone out of his way to be specific. Here, he did.

Some members of the audience chuckled.

“I’ll try not to be too obnoxious,” he continued. “When I was younger, that’s all I needed. All I needed was to differentiate myself from other people. If it was going to convince my mother that I was a juvenile delinquent, I was there. I needed to be transgressive. Adrenaline rush and spectacle were all I needed. I don’t think I was alone in that. Maybe I’m just shallow… When you’re this age, spectacle is plenty. And bloodsprays and all that stuff is really kind of what you’re looking for because you really want to alienate people in a strange sort of way. You want to shock people and you want to be different.

“Not so much, anymore.

“I have no interest in guys who wear armour and swing big swords. I have been the last space marine between earth and an alien invasion. I really just don’t need to go there anymore. I want content that is relevant to my life, that is relevant to me, that is set in the real world….

“If we’re going to reach a broader audience, we have to stop thinking about that audience strictly in terms of teenage boys or even teenage girls. We need to think about things that are relevant to normal humans and not just the geeks we used to be.”

He went on to commend Heavy Rain and The Walking Dead as two of the best experiences he’s had in gaming in a while. Both games made the quotidian interesting. Both games were about real emotions and could make even a simple meal a gripping interactive experience.

We’ll have more on Spector’s talk later.


  • I thought Lollipop Chansaw was…. okay. I didn’t mind the setting at all, and I liked the characters, but the game was too short. It felt like a brawler but the stages were way too long and full of too many mandatory minigames to be repeatable. If I was going to do the game myself, I’d double the number of stages but halve the content of each. That was my biggest gripe. It wasn’t even that offensive lol.

    And didn’t Spector’s company just go out of business..?

    • > And didn’t Spector’s company just go out of business..?

      Yes. Just like his other company, Ion Storm Austin, just before that. And Origin before that. Are you seeing a pattern here?

  • WTF Warren? Games that you don’t currently have any interest in “should just not be made.”

    I don’t have any interest in Mickey Mouse games but if that’s what you want to make, go right ahead.

  • I’d disagree with him, but he’s talking about his personal experiences and tastes, not just as an adult gamer, but as a 57 year old gamer.

  • Being a grown up means liking the things you like because you like them. To act otherwise is pretension. Spector is fine to not like the game, but to rule it unfit to exist is going a bit far.

    I enjoyed Heavy Rain, Walking Dead, AND Lollipop Chainsaw. So p’shaw to you, sir. P’shaw.

    • Yeah, baby! I loved all those games too 🙂

      Lollipop Chainsaw was irreverent and quirky, Heavy Rain was gripping and tense with some emotional moments, and Walking Dead gave me the sweats, palpitations and my heart in my throat.

      To say a game ‘shouldn’t have been made’ is way too harsh and belittles the efforts of those developers who poured themselves into making it. You’re out of line Mr Spector.

  • I’ll copypaste my rant from TAY because I have the post-lunch tireds 😛

    While I agree with his desire for more games that are meaningful and relevant to us, I feel the way Spector states his case is very closed-minded and not very constructive at all.

    I am all for sensible games that relate to real world issues and I would love to see more of them in the mainstream games market, but that doesn’t mean games like Lollipop Chainsaw should not exist. What the games market needs is variety, not just dumping one type of game for another.

    The games industry and its fans should have an inclusive attitude and accept that there is a place in the market for every type of game for every type of person, not excluding certain types of games because they appear ‘unworthy’.

  • Considering the game has rainbows and stuff when you kill a zombie, or even how deep the game can be, I dont know if pointing Lollisaw out was the best idea.

  • “I have no interest in guys who wear armour and swing big swords. I have been the last space marine between earth and an alien invasion. I really just don’t need to go there anymore. I want content that is relevant to my life, that is relevant to me, that is set in the real world….

    That’s a perfectly valid position to have and one that I’m sure many others share. Yet there are still plenty of others that still want to go there or haven’t been there yet. That want the thrill of action or absurdity of Suda51.

    If gaming is to grow, it needs to hit as many different audiences in as many different ways it can. From Farmville to Tetris. From Journey to Heavy Rain. From Mario Party to League of Legends.

    Making games that appeal to one group of people doesn’t have to be made at the expense of other games. Just because Tarantino makes films doesn’t stop Aranofsky from making his or John Lasseter or Michael Bay. Sure, there are limited resources that will get focused in the high profit areas but there’s still enough to go around that other types of games can be developed. Then their audiences can grow and they become high budget areas.

  • Give it a rest Warren.

    Its a grindhouse esq game, let people who enjoy it enjoy it. Noone is claiming Lollipop Chainsaw is a masterpiece, or pushing the industry forward.

    I really hope LC sold more than Epic Mickey 2, and thats why his jimmies are rustled.

    • A quick googling suggests Lollipop Chainsaw hit 700k worldwide. Epic Mickey 2 sold around 270k in the US, and the US tends to make up the bulk of the market for US-produced games, so I’m inclined to assume that it didn’t reach anywhere close to 700k worldwide.

      Edit: further searching suggests the sales figures for Epic Mickey 2 were closer to 529k in the US, so it might have beat 700k worldwide. Hard to say.

      So, I assume Spector is lashing out at games like Lollipop Chainsaw and the low-brow consumers who buy them. Which is sad.

      I’m trying to imagine a world where I cared about Epic Mickey 2, and I just can’t do it. I’m pretty sure in a year where that was the only game released, I would have spent a lot of time working off my pile of shame from 2010 and 2011.

  • I would have thought being a game designer would give you less of a reason to bad mouth other peoples games. Not your cup of tea? Fine…just keep yer yap shut.

    For the record it’s not my cup of tea either, but i’m all for allowing people to make whatever the hell they like if they can find an audience for their product. Go nuts!

  • As someone who hasn’t made a decent game in 9 years – and who hamstrung & watered down his last two games which could have been good – he probably shouldn’t be throwing stones.

    And if his benchmark for emotions & storytelling is Heavy Rain, well….

  • am i the only one that finds everything suda51 makes a breath of fresh air?! there’s to many un-creative game designers out there and lollipop chainsaw was just a pleasure to play from start to finish. people get hung up on the skimpy dressed chearleader and take it seriously (for some weird bloody reason) but it’s satire and the developers wanted to ruffled feathers!

  • On one hand I think he has a point, but on the other I think he’s full of himself.

    I agree that developers should look into making a wider variety of games. Variety is the spice of life (or is that cumin?).

    I don’t agree that this game, or any game in particular, should never have been made. I haven’t played Lollipop Chainsaw, and it’s not really something that interests me, however I don’t think it shouldn’t have been made. There are people out there who like it. There are people out there who don’t. Either way that’s fine. People have a right to like or dislike whatever it is they like/dislike, just as Warren has a right to dislike this game. However, saying it shouldn’t exist simply because he doesn’t like it is just small-minded and moronic. Warren needs to get over himself. If he doesn’t like this game, or any other game, then make something different rather than complain. Leave those who like this game to enjoy it.

  • I learnt a long time ago that just because someone can create something amazing (be it an actor, a game developer, or a famous Japanese anime director (I’m looking at you Miyazaki)) does not mean their opinions necessarily mean much… even with regards to the field they’re famous for.

    He might be good at what he does. But I totally disagree with this stance.

  • I can understand where he is coming from. He wants to push the medium to be taken seriously and as a result games like Lollipop Chainsaw that go against this ethos will be cast aside. Much like how in some respects feminists will cast aside other women if they dont fit into the feminist stereotype.

    The thing is that even in other media there is a place for the Lollipop chainsaws. In movies there is your Inceptions and there is your underworlds. Even in novel literature there exists twilights. He should be intelligent enough to know that light hearted fun is still part and parcel of the package. Besides Lollipop chainsaw is a satire just as bayonetta was. Just not done as well.

  • Hey Spector: THINK before you go telling people what games to make and what not to. Especially when you’re the guy responsible for Invisible War. And Epic Mickey 2. And Thief 3. And the closure of Ion Storm and Junction Point.

    Here’s a thought for you, buddy: maybe if you spent a fraction of the time you spend pimping yourself out to the media and rambling on with your amateur thoughts on game design, you actually spent some of that time managing your own studio, you’d actually still be in the industry instead of a washed-up has-been.

    PS I sincerely hope no one gives this loser any money to make more games.

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