Gearbox Boss Says It's "Dangerous" to Let Valve Win

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Gearbox Boss Says It's "Dangerous" to Let Valve Win

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Gearbox top banana Randy Pitchford had some harsh words for Steam recently, calling it a money grab and saying that it's "really, really dangerous for the rest of the industry to allow Valve to win."

On a personal level, Randy Pitchford trusts the guys from Valve. Really, he does. As an industry figure, on the other hand, he's not so sure. The reason is simple: Steam, Valve's hugely successful digital distribution service. In a recent interview with Maximum PC, Pitchford admitted that Steam helps sell games but said he thinks the service creates an unavoidable conflict of interest for Valve and that the studio is using it to take unfair advantage of other developers, particular the smaller players.

"Steam helps. As a guy in this industry though, I don't trust Valve," Pitchford said. "I, personally, trust Valve. But I'm just saying, honestly, I think a lot of the industry doesn't."

He said he'd like to see Steam spun off from Valve as an independent entity, adding that 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," he said. "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."

So who would Pitchford like to see at the head of the digital distribution charge? Oddly enough, he seems to think Microsoft might be a pretty good choice, if they could just get their stuff together. "Microsoft has every single one of us running Windows, and it could solve this [distribution] problem in a second if done right. 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," he said. "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]."

via: GamesIndustry

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you want Microsoft in charge? FUCK YOU, then they would charge us for free updates dumbass

The conflict of interests really is quite blatant. I know people trust valve quite a bit, but that's not really a situation you ever want to see.

Then again, I sure as hell wouldn't want to see microsoft running things.

Yeah, it's totally dangerous for a company that's known for its high-quality products (most of the time), attention to detail, and fanservice to actually get ahead in the industry. And Steam is exploiting people how exactly? Mind elaborating, Mr. Pitchford?

Microsoft would charge for every bit of update. You want the heavy update? 5 bucks. You want the spy update? 6 bucks.

Hmmm...Steam, or Games for Windows...Ill stick to the industry compromising, evil competition beater that is Steam to the broken, money grabbing, waste of time that is Microsofts 1/2 assed attempt.

hell, the whole thing stinks. anybody remember a certain "episodic" game, sold in 10 dollar chunks? what would have happened if that strategy had worked? how many "chapters" would there have been before we got the whole game? 10? 11? what I'm getting at is this: steam is evil,
because if the people running it had their way, we would all be paying sooo much money for our games...hmm, I seem to recall some dude saying we gamers are getting too much game for our money, it was an article here somewhere

[Shrugs]

I think this is just one issue among many with digital distribution. Ultimatly everyone winds up having to trust the source. As a consumer it's an even bigger issue because if the service you buy from goes down, and you've deleted your game (or require a connection to that service to 'verify' it) your out of luck. I can't wait to see the issues when you see a digital distribution company go belly up while the game developers still remain and the lynch mobs forming to get the game developers to honor the liscence irregardless of what the EULA probably said when you did that.

... and yeah, having game developers running the DD is a bad idea because of the competition involved. Microsoft is also a bad idea because it has it's own game studios.

In the end I think they should just kill the entire idea, disc in hand is how it should be.

As far as the "little guys" being exploited, I find that kind of lulzworthy and it makes one of my earlier points. People start screaming about how this great is for indie developers, but the bottom line is that if you can't support a $10 direct-to-budget format to begin with you probably shouldn't have been developing to begin with, and shouldn't be surprised when someone starts nailing you one way or another.

See, I personally don't like the idea of indie games via services like Steam because the industry is already full of tons of shovelware. All it's going to do is create an even bigger glut of garbage, that a lot of people aren't going to trust based on a few paragaphs of text. At least with the $10 shovelware and such you know it was at one time a fairly successful game, OR the developer had a certain degree of resources to invest.

I can't wait for someone to realize that they can release somelike like a "Pac Man" clone under false pretenses, grab some Steam/DD sales, and then go out of business only to pull the same scam later. At least with a physical disc if I get "Punk'd" the clerk/manager at my local store has to deal with me (and anyone else I bring along for support) yelling at them, making a scene, and driving away business if they don't make things right/refund me. With DD I have no such option. It removes the entire "human factor" from the equasion which is going to make scams a lot easier in the long run.

Yes damn Valve with there high quality games and free updates for older games, I mean how dare they give people a system to easily download games and access them from any computer easily and quickly.

I don't want to see anyone particularly in charge, it's good to have other companies around.
Companies need competition, it helps them creatively and if one was in charge then they could be as dick as they like and no ne could do anything about it

Meh. I like Valve. It's one of the few video game companies I have fuzzy feelings for. Come to think of it, it's the only one. I hear "made by Valve", I think "that's worth trying". It's the only company I can think of where this very real potential for conflict of interests doesn't really bother me.

Of course, given adequate reason to be bothered, I wouldn't be blindly loyal to them, either.

Didn't he say in the last few days that Fallout 3 would of been better with more shooty-shooty and less talky-talky?

Considering it's an RPG that's utter BS.

And considering I haven't seen anyone say they don't like using Steam, I'd say he's talking out of his arse.

Ah, Steam, the world's most popular DRM package... though it's obvious that Pitchford is bloviating yet again, I can see his point that a monopoly on digital distribution channels would be bad for developers and ultimately gamers. (No matter who holds the monopoly... companies can change over time.)

-- Steve

Well, there's also Direct2Drive. They don't have an auto-update system (yet), but they generally carry the same catalog as Steam.

Sometimes I prefer buying from D2D because I can share a purchase with my boyfriend since it's not tied to a player account, and I can download the game in OS X and only boot into Windows to install and play it. But even for people who don't need that sort of thing, at least there is competition. Valve hasn't won.

Microsoft is possibly the worst developer and publisher i know about, save Atari, obviously.

this is my vision of steam if Microsoft took over.

-everything would be green and white, text included, which would make Steam lose it charm.
-prices on free updates and patches.
-higher prices, MUCH HIGHER.
-worse customer service.
-no weekend deals.
-friend system fucked over to resemble XBL.
-price for owning Steam, just like XBL.
-360 advertising all over.
-more developers, including the ones that have made shitty games.
-no porting of older games, KOTOR for example.
-Halo adversiting all over.
-no Valve games, because Microsoft is a bunch of greedy clusterfucks.
-fake Metacritic scores for Microsoft games.
-no "Add non-Steam game" option.
-no downloadable mods, like Zombie Panic or Zombie Master.
-do i need to continue?

in short, Steam would be fucking horrible.

I trust Valve to look after the industry more than many others. Especially Microsoft.

I think it's difficult to say that Evil has anything to do with overcharging for videogames.

That comment about Fallout 3 is probably true, though, since Bethesda seems to be firmly against paying anyone who can write.

As weird as this sounds to me, I actually trust Valve. I guess that's inevitable though when It's the only company I can think of that at the very least seems to care more about quality than profit.

oranger:
hell, the whole thing stinks. anybody remember a certain "episodic" game, sold in 10 dollar chunks?

Sin episodes? Yea....

I actually bought the first (and only) part. The story actually looked rather interesting but they never created more episodes after the first one AND there were only 3 weapons!

It was still a good game overall though, and i think it is sad that it did not become a greater success then it did.

EDIT: He thinks Microsoft should be in charge rather then Valve?

Jesus Christ......

WOW!!! Jealousy of success is so amazing.

Christemo:
Microsoft is possibly the worst developer and publisher i know about, save Atari, obviously.

this is my vision of steam if Microsoft took over.

-everything would be green and white, text included, which would make Steam lose it charm.
-prices on free updates and patches.
-higher prices, MUCH HIGHER.
-worse customer service.
-no weekend deals.
-friend system fucked over to resemble XBL.
-price for owning Steam, just like XBL.
-360 advertising all over.
-more developers, including the ones that have made shitty games.
-no porting of older games, KOTOR for example.
-Halo adversiting all over.
-no Valve games, because Microsoft is a bunch of greedy clusterfucks.
-fake Metacritic scores for Microsoft games.
-no "Add non-Steam game" option.
-no downloadable mods, like Zombie Panic or Zombie Master.
-do i need to continue?

in short, Steam would be fucking horrible.

Did you just come and steel all my fears of what would happen if microsoft took over?

I see the guys view but omg no microsoft have given up on the pc market for the 360, let steam handle it and maybe one day years down the line ill get the choice of playing on windows or my fav linux distro.

Can someone explain, please? Why is this bad? How is Valve exploiting the "little guys?" What are the conflicts of interest?

A lot of you are not actually reading the complaints he is leveling, he isn't addressing Valve as a game developer but as the single owner of the Steam service. Valve's game quality has little to no bearing in this discussion. Take a minute, read what he has to say san the rose tinted glasses and then comment.

That said, I really enjoy Steam. I think it rides the fence well between giving me value in return for giving up some software rights. However I can see how the conflict of interest is actually holding the service back. Game developers want to put their games on Steam because it's popular, but this means that they are directly financing their competition. This would be akin to say, Wall-mart selling TVs at Best Buy. Sure they are still making money, but they are also having to pay are share of that off to someone who also sells TVs.

I'd be interested in finding how how much of a cut that Steam takes, Apple for instance takes 30% on iTunes app sales.

I've said my piece against Steam often enough, no point reiterating it now. But what I will say is Steam or GoG do have ONE positive place in the world, and that's keeping retro titles on the market. While I would rather have a boxed copy with actual discs, if it is a choice between a Steam copy of a discontinued game, or no copy, at the right price I may consider Steam.

What I DON'T like is how Steam handles "new" games. Games like PvZ or Defense Grid may have never been $60 titles, but there was still a place on the shelf for them in around $10-30. Many games now skip the retail end and go exclusively Steam, which means people like me will never get to buy them. Gearbox guy is right, Steam is bad for the small cookies in the game developers world. It's like every after-school special about the runaway who wanted to be a star, they instead end up as a whore making big money for their pimp, that pimp is Valve.

Plankhead:
Well, there's also Direct2Drive. They don't have an auto-update system (yet), but they generally carry the same catalog as Steam.

Sometimes I prefer buying from D2D because I can share a purchase with my boyfriend since it's not tied to a player account, and I can download the game in OS X and only boot into Windows to install and play it. But even for people who don't need that sort of thing, at least there is competition. Valve hasn't won.

The problem with D2D is piracy, just like in your example, it is piss easy to share with another person. Back in college my friends would just share games from D2D back and forth, its like piracy for dummies, one person buys it and gives it to 10 others for nothing. Having plunged in pirate waters myself (mostly due to me living in a country where games cost almost double sometimes, but that is another story) a lot of piracy comes from D2D and if I was a developer I'd avoid them like the plague.

Slycne:

I'd be interested in finding how how much of a cut that Steam takes, Apple for instance takes 30% on iTunes app sales.

I'm willing to bet it is quite a large sum, since they seem to chop down prices often and quickly going for the quantity of sales, they hurt the company who owns the game but steam still gets their cut at a discounted price.

Slycne:
A lot of you are not actually reading the complaints he is leveling, he isn't addressing Valve as a game developer but as the single owner of the Steam service. Valve's game quality has little to no bearing in this discussion. Take a minute, read what he has to say san the rose tinted glasses and then comment.

That said, I really enjoy Steam. I think it rides the fence well between giving me value in return for giving up some software rights. However I can see how the conflict of interest is actually holding the service back. Game developers want to put their games on Steam because it's popular, but this means that they are directly financing their competition. This would be akin to say, Wall-mart selling TVs at Best Buy. Sure they are still making money, but they are also having to pay are share of that off to someone who also sells TVs.

I'd be interested in finding how how much of a cut that Steam takes, Apple for instance takes 30% on iTunes app sales.

This

The man is criticizing valves DD monopoly, not Valve as a game developer. If Valve is the single owner of the most successful DD service it monopolizes on aspect of the game industry, gets a profit off of everyone and makes it harder for small game developers to get started.

Valve fanboys need to pull their heads out of their asses and actually read the article.

Rednog:

Slycne:

I'd be interested in finding how how much of a cut that Steam takes, Apple for instance takes 30% on iTunes app sales.

I'm willing to bet it is quite a large sum, since they seem to chop down prices often and quickly going for the quantity of sales, they hurt the company who owns the game but steam still gets their cut at a discounted price.

Thank you, yes.

Steam is hurting the industry doing just that.

Cousin_IT:
Hmmm...Steam, or Games for Windows...Ill stick to the industry compromising, evil competition beater that is Steam to the broken, money grabbing, waste of time that is Microsofts 1/2 assed attempt.

The guys from Valve came up with the Steam idea. It is working because both are great and now it could be dangerous? I'll trust Valve/Steam anyday before ever trusting a copycat company with a string of lawyers behind them like Microsoft. Look what EA has come up with to counteract Steam, it blows and it's never cheap, now they have to sell their stuff via Steam... It's just the market (we gamers) that speaks and those moneygrabbing fatcats are scared of it!

Steam is helping valve break from the Publisher/Developer relationship that has stifled so much innovation in the industry. It is the equivalent of a popular musician saying: "Screw record labels, I am rich and popular enough to start my own label. While I am at it, I might as well give some other guys a shot that you wouldn't give them."

I can see Steam's popularity threatening to monopolize the PC gaming industry and giving valve an unfair advantage over its competitors. However this is the PC and the Internet. It isn't like the oil and railroad barons that controlled America because they owned miles of rail road or incredibly expensive pumping equipment. Any one with a few thousand dollars and a decent technical background could put forth a competing service.

What I am hoping is Steam's success inspires other companies to self publish on the internet and the big money factories like Activision and EA loose out.

I think he forgets the good the free market is capable of. Valve is on top because it doesn't screw people over. They just provide the service. Hell, the publishers set the prices, Valve just distributes and takes the piece of the pie that otherwise would have gone towards making and shipping the physical disc. And what conflict of interest? They sell a game, they make money. They have a robust library, and more people buy from them. If Valve acted on a conflict of interest, they would lose money in the long run, and Valve knows this. And I really think that he has no basis for saying that it hurts smaller developers. Smaller developers are going to have a bitch of a time makeing a physical disc, shipping it to stores that want to buy, and advertising in order to get people to want to buy it. Its a huge hump to get over. With Steam, indie developers are greatly benefited. Steam puts it on there new releases, every one gets the chance to see it, and a trailer, and a description, etc. Instead of idling its way into obscurity on a shelf somewhere, thousands of people buy it out of interest, and the developer get's a huge amount of name recognition. I can think of nothing that could benefit indie games more then Steam, and ive read as much from a few indie developers. Personally, I can name 15 indie games I have presently installed on my computer, that I bought through Steam because I saw it on the new releases, watched the video, and thought it looked good. I never would have even heard of these games were it not for Steam. I only name the ones I have installed because including the ones I don't have installed would take too long to count. Even if Steam takes a piece of the pie, they make the pie exponentially bigger.

Valve is amazing and I love Steam. This may sound fanboy-ish but it's true.

Microsoft really are not as evil as everyone makes them out to be, fact is, they've got a lot of idiots using the Xbox 360 and they would be foolish to not try and exploit that fact.

No offence to anyone who owns an Xbox 360.

Slycne:
A lot of you are not actually reading the complaints he is leveling, he isn't addressing Valve as a game developer but as the single owner of the Steam service. Valve's game quality has little to no bearing in this discussion. Take a minute, read what he has to say san the rose tinted glasses and then comment.

That said, I really enjoy Steam. I think it rides the fence well between giving me value in return for giving up some software rights. However I can see how the conflict of interest is actually holding the service back. Game developers want to put their games on Steam because it's popular, but this means that they are directly financing their competition. This would be akin to say, Wall-mart selling TVs at Best Buy. Sure they are still making money, but they are also having to pay are share of that off to someone who also sells TVs.

I'd be interested in finding how how much of a cut that Steam takes, Apple for instance takes 30% on iTunes app sales.

But that's not a conflict of interest for Valve. If anything, it's a conflict of interests for the other companies -- in the literal sense of the phrase, no less. Valve, however, is doing nothing wrong, which is kind of what Pitchford is implying.

Is it bad for the industry if they all end up using Steam? Probably. Even if Valve continues to play nice, they then have the advantage of that extra cash to put out, say, free TF2 and L4D content, thus letting the other companies pay for their reputation increase, so a Valve release will always be seen as better. That's a fair enough comment, but the thing is, it's entirely within the other game publishers' ability to stop it. Just stop using Steam. It's not like Valve forces them to use it, or even that it has a monopoly on digital distribution.

But it really does sound like Pitchford is simply bitching that he can't get his software on to Steam at the price that he wants to. No sympathy here, because nothing is stopping him from making his own platform, and if that wouldn't be as cost effective as simply using Steam, then the question is answered.

I can see what he's talking about. Having a game distribution system at the hands of a game developer does create a potential conflict of interests. Even if I'd like to believe that Valve will continue with their consumer-friendly attitude, the danger of exploit is out there. Yeah, it might be better if Steam had been at more independent hands, but no one can guarantee it will create an environment that is more consumer-friendly and risk free, and it might be even worse.

I like the idea of a digital distribution system. There is certainly room for refinement and minimization of the risks involved with digital copies, which is why I personally prefer hard copies, but I like having the option out there. Buying L4D on Steam for 15$ - a 50% sale that Steam recently made for the game - was a lot more worthwhile for me than buying it in disc format that would cost the equivalent of 50$. Steam is great for continually running such deals, which make the service very appealing at times, and support it as a viable alternative to the disc format.

And seriously... MICROSOFT? Did someone check the back of this guy's neck for Microsoft's Trademarked Mind-Controlling Microchip? Whether you agree or disagree with my take on Valve's current consumer-friendly attitude, can you really say Microsoft are any better? They are the epitome of monopoly. I definitely, definitely do NOT want to see something as appealing as Steam fall into their hands.

Malygris:

He said he'd like to see Steam spun off from Valve as an independent entity, adding that it would be "much better if Steam was its own business."

What good would it do? It would still sell PC games to everyone, its only the companies who don't want Valve to showcase their games to thousands of users who think of actually buying the game rather then have it sit on a shelf because they didn't want to give Steam money for showcasing.

Malygris:
Pitchford admitted that Steam helps sell games but said he thinks the service creates an unavoidable conflict of interest for Valve and that the studio is using it to take unfair advantage of other developers, particular the smaller players.

Taking advantage sounds like Valve making 9$ while the developers of the game make 1$.

Anyone else thinking they're making Valve sound like some sort of power crazed Nazi?

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