09 Oct


It seems department heads from publisher and developer alike have gotten more comfortable with speaking their minds. The latest in candid commentators is Gearbox’s (Brother’s in Arms: Hell’s Highway, Borderlands) own Randy Pitchford, who has some choice words for the popular Steam digital download service on PC. Speaking to Maximum PC, Mr. Pitchford also forsees some major issues between consumers, developers, and publishers when it comes to direct download services as a whole. His comments can be found at length after the jump.

“It would be much better if Steam was its own business. There’s so much conflict of interest there that it’s horrid. It’s actually really, really dangerous for the rest of the industry to allow Valve to win,” Pitchford explained. “I love Valve games, and I do business with the company. But, I’m just saying, Steam isn’t the answer. Steam helps us as customers, but it’s also a money grab, and Valve is exploiting a lot of people in a way that’s not totally fair. Valve is taking a larger share than it should for the service its providing. It’s exploiting a lot of small guys. For us big guys, we’re going to sell the units and it will be fine.”

“Microsoft has every single one of us running Windows, and it could solve this [distribution] problem in a second if done right,” he continued. “It’s not hard, but either the company doesn’t know how to do it, or it’s not willing to invest, or it’s got other priorities. Gamers can see the prioritization. Microsoft is focused on the console platform. For the time being, that’s nice, because some of us aren’t sure we want Microsoft to control [distribution]. Frankly, at this point, I’d rather trust Best Buy and Wal-Mart.”

“We need to improve the convenience thing [in regards to digital distribution], and we need to figure out who controls the…stuff. I think it depends on the model. If they’re slicing a piece of all of us off, that sucks. It depends how much the piece is. There’s a fair piece and an unfair piece. How much service are they offering? Are they creating opportunity for us to manage some of those resources themselves? We’ll bear the burden of the cost of the service, but we want more of the reward. Are they creating that opportunity for us or is the only way their way?”

“The best example is that I can go to this place using Vista to buy software from Microsoft. But, I can also fire up my browser, whether it’s Internet Explorer or Mozilla, and I can go to any retailer in the world and purchase something. That’s really neat. Amazon has somehow figured something out, as have Apple and others, and made it really convenient for me to buy songs. They have that interface exactly right for the way I want to consume that. It seems like it’s not that hard to do. We’re not there yet, it’s still 2009, but we can see it and know that it’s possible,” he concluded.

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