InXile's Brian Fargo Calls Steam PC Gaming's "Savior"

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InXile's Brian Fargo Calls Steam PC Gaming's "Savior"

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InXile's Brian Fargo believes Valve and Steam rescued PC gaming from "the dark ages."

PC gaming is dead. For years this was the proclamation of countless gamers and would-be industry prophets who saw the PC gaming market as a waning market kept alive only by a shrinking group of platform devotees that was doomed to dwindle away until only consoles remained. Years later, PC gaming is bigger and healthier than ever been with revenues up and many core gamers choosing it over the plug and play ease of consoles. The secret behind its resurgence? According to inXile's Brian Fargo, the answer can be summed up in one word: Steam.

"They're the saviors of the PC as far as I'm concerned," said Fargo in a recent interview. "They've been great. You think about where we all were, kind of in the dark ages, when there was nothing. There was just flash. There was no digital distribution. They've opened up a way to get directly to the audience in a way that isn't politicized, or forces us to do exclusives or all the other things the console guys do."

Fargo would likely have no trouble finding people who agree with him. Since its initial unveiling back in 2002 the service has grown and expanded into PC gaming's premier digital distribution service. By January 2014 the service has accumulated more than 75 million active users, a number that's likely to keep growing as more time passes. The size of its audience aside however, Fargo believes that a big part of Steam's success has been the way that Valve allowed the service to develop into an open and welcoming place for developers to sell their games.

"[The console makers] put al sorts of guns to our head," said Fargo. "Valve has all this power but they don't wield it. They let us work in an open system. So for that I can't say good enough things about them." What's your take on the state of PC gaming? Do you fall in line with Fargo and his view of Steam as its "savior" or would you say there's other factor's at play in its rise back to the top?

Source: Eurogamer

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Well I will say this, either as a PC person I either spend $300 on a console and then $60 per game that I can't mod, or I spend $500 every 2 years on upgrading my pc but get games for $6 or $20 dollars with steam or the humble bundle. I think I choose the PC if only for the comfortability factor.

It's the best thing Valve ever invented and I thank them for it and the Portal series. As a company with only two good games to their credit they've done so much for PC gaming and I believe the main factor is sales. When they have things like their summer or winter sales I think many people, myself included, will even buy games we wouldn't normally because the price drops to something insignificant. I know some companies want those sales to end but I wouldn't doubt if they're responsible for selling a ton of games.

The only real issue I have with Steam is all the shovelware that's been getting released on it lately and the fact that Early Access is being used by several developers in what is frankly an insulting way, but at the end of the day the goods far outweigh the bads and my game collection would not be even close to being as large as it is if it wasn't for Steam. We can only hope that some day Origin may be half as good as it.

I think it's not so much just steam itself, but rather the whole idea of digital distribution that it started.

It proved that there indeed was a market for PC games still and that was the key factor, because once they got the ball rolling, the PC industry itself has really awakened and blossomed on its own. Especially the indie scene.

I think we can also give a big thank-you to Sony and Microsoft for messing up and/or ignoring developers and providing such an inferior service. Not to mention the console cycle that dragged on for so long, that it slowed down game engine improvements to the point that a basic, cheap PC can now run everything the consoles can and better.

I think the next big step will be when brick and mortars finally die and we can do away with regional pricing bs that is still plaguing steam and other digital distributors.

On the downside, the Laissez-faire style of steam has seen some massive issues with quality control and questionable products lately.

image

Creation of Steam - artist rendition

also brian fargo is 100% correct, sorry anti-steamers but thats the truth

OF COURSE, other things contribuited to this, the growing indie scene and the introduction of the F2P model for instance, but Valve played a huge role, i think those 3 things might be the holy trinity of PC gaming at the moment

i absolutely hated steam when i bought half-life 2 it constantly wanted to update stuff which was horrible on a dial-up connection I think I only put up with it because it was the only way to play counterstrike

but before steam i pirated everything it just goes to show how making an easy and streamlined distribution service helps

magter3001:
Well I will say this, either as a PC person I either spend $300 on a console and then $60 per game that I can't mod, or I spend $500 every 2 years on upgrading my pc but get games for $6 or $20 dollars with steam or the humble bundle. I think I choose the PC if only for the comfortability factor.

i think you are way overestimating the cost of pc gaming even when you low balled it,most games are still being made for consoles first which pretty much freezes the hardware requirements, I upgraded my pc for the first time in 4 years and it was only about $350NZD

For the question at the end I suppose you could well say they did "save" PC gaming, I put in quotations because PC gamers always told me they were fine.

As for the man's attitude...he is a game developer right? Why would he be trumpeting a company like Valve on, is he completely naive, and stupid at that I doubt the console makers appreciate his comments on them. What a mark.

magter3001:
Well I will say this, either as a PC person I either spend $300 on a console and then $60 per game that I can't mod, or I spend $500 every 2 years on upgrading my pc but get games for $6 or $20 dollars with steam or the humble bundle. I think I choose the PC if only for the comfortability factor.

I didn't know that you could only buy games on console at full price.

ron1n:
I think it's not so much just steam itself, but rather the whole idea of digital distribution that it started.

It proved that there indeed was a market for PC games still and that was the key factor, because once they got the ball rolling, the PC industry itself has really awakened and blossomed on its own. Especially the indie scene.

I think we can also give a big thank-you to Sony and Microsoft for messing up and/or ignoring developers and providing such an inferior service. Not to mention the console cycle that dragged on for so long, that it slowed down game engine improvements to the point that a basic, cheap PC can now run everything the consoles can and better.

I think the next big step will be when brick and mortars finally die and we can do away with regional pricing bs that is still plaguing steam and other digital distributors.

On the downside, the Laissez-faire style of steam has seen some massive issues with quality control and questionable products lately.

you know what i can live without? the fucking regional activation restriction Valve introduced on steam, fucking retarded, of course, is not AS BAD as games being outright region locked, or not being able to pla your games outside your region, you simply cant add em to your library outside your region, but its starting to make it real hard to buy gifts for friends overseas

and once again indies come to the rescue, i believe no indie game does this regional restriction bullshit

i seriously think valve shouldve never given the option to publishers to restrict where their game can be added to one's library

Rozalia1:
For the question at the end I suppose you could well say they did "save" PC gaming, I put in quotations because PC gamers always told me they were fine.

As for the man's attitude...he is a game developer right? Why would he be trumpeting a company like Valve on, is he completely naive, and stupid at that I doubt the console makers appreciate his comments on them. What a mark.

magter3001:
Well I will say this, either as a PC person I either spend $300 on a console and then $60 per game that I can't mod, or I spend $500 every 2 years on upgrading my pc but get games for $6 or $20 dollars with steam or the humble bundle. I think I choose the PC if only for the comfortability factor.

I didn't know that you could only buy games on console at full price.

at the moment hes only making wasteland 2, a revival of classic fallout style RPGs (which btw looks quite nice after checking some gameplay vids) i dont think he minds telling console fat guys the truth in their faces, console manufactures and publishers put many more restrictions on devs than Valve, thats a well documented fact

remember microsoft's infamous launch parity clause? which to this day they are still enforcing

NuclearKangaroo:

at the moment hes only making wasteland 2, a revival of classic fallout style RPGs (which btw looks quite nice after checking some gameplay vids) i dont think he minds telling console fat guys the truth in their faces, console manufactures and publishers put many more restrictions on devs than Valve, thats a well documented fact

remember microsoft's infamous launch parity clause? which to this day they are still enforcing

Console fat guys? Anyway, the point is he shouldn't be handling himself like that. He seems to me to be someone marking out for Valve which to consumers is something that businesses want (and is expected), but a developer marking out for company when he has nothing to gain from it? That is a joke Valve no doubt will have a good giggle about.

Yeah and? I don't see how Microsoft's dealings mark Sony and Nintendo.

Rozalia1:

NuclearKangaroo:

at the moment hes only making wasteland 2, a revival of classic fallout style RPGs (which btw looks quite nice after checking some gameplay vids) i dont think he minds telling console fat guys the truth in their faces, console manufactures and publishers put many more restrictions on devs than Valve, thats a well documented fact

remember microsoft's infamous launch parity clause? which to this day they are still enforcing

Console fat guys? Anyway, the point is he shouldn't be handling himself like that. He seems to me to be someone marking out for Valve which to consumers is something that businesses want (and is expected), but a developer marking out for company when he has nothing to gain from it? That is a joke Valve no doubt will have a good giggle about.

Yeah and? I don't see how Microsoft's dealings mark Sony and Nintendo.

sony and nintendo are just opening up, developers, specially indepedent ones usually had a hard time getting their games published on sony's and nintendo's consoles from what i understand, sometimes even due to hardware problems, like the file size restrictins on the wii which prevented Super Meat Boy from being released in that console

also is he now not allowed to have an opinion? one that btw a lot of customers seems to have

hell in fact, i believe his opinion to be more genuine knowing he has nothing to gain, unlike all those PS3 devs speaking about "TEH POWAH OF DA CELL" last gen

He was right about the start, bit too much on the supposed "dark ages" though,that part is always exaggerated these days with the tinted glasses.

Still I couldn't much care for what Valve does these days, they've opened the flood gates and stirred a lot of hassle on their end, if Jim and Total Biscuit as well as others point out what's currently going wrong on Steam's end then I'm pretty sure something bad is happening, then again it's not like I can look at the front page and shop to my hearts content, I used to be like that maybe 3-4 years ago but now it's different to a point where I don't shop there any more, I instead shop elsewhere where I know there's something I want at a good deal and that isn't cluttered with crap I don't want, also other places that are more open and aren't DRM.

Congrats on person #343862 for praising Steam as always I guess while taking the usual stab at the other platforms?.

NuclearKangaroo:

sony and nintendo are just opening up, developers, specially indepedent ones usually had a hard time getting their games published on sony's and nintendo's consoles, sometimes even due to hardware problems, like the file size restrictins on the wii which prevented Super Meat Boy from being released in that console

Well than his comment about "[The console makers]" should read simply Xbox if like you say that is now the case. Though reading it seems like it may be in the past tense, but considering the rest of it I'm not not so sure.

NuclearKangaroo:
also is he now not allowed to have an opinion? one that btw a lot of customers seems to have

Its called being professional in getting that opinion across. The potshot at the big three was bush league, and the fanboyism is not something a developer should be indulging in.

NuclearKangaroo:

hell in fact, i believe his opinion to be more genuine knowing he has nothing to gain, unlike all those PS3 devs speaking about "TEH POWAH OF DA CELL" last gen

Yeah I'm sure its genuine which is what makes him such an idiot. When you say these sort of things because you were say given a big bucket of cash by Microsoft, or you are just outright owned by Sony than that is perfectly acceptable. Such people aren't marks, they're in on it.

This guy with nothing to gain is making himself look very foolish.

Xan Krieger:
It's the best thing Valve ever invented and I thank them for it and the Portal series. As a company with only two good games...

hahaha only 2?

I completely agree. I mean, I think we were going to get digital distribution no matter what as a matter of course. However, can you imagine if EA or Ubisoft had gotten to it first and become the gate keepers of PC gaming? That would make Valve's issues look quaint.

Rozalia1:

NuclearKangaroo:

sony and nintendo are just opening up, developers, specially indepedent ones usually had a hard time getting their games published on sony's and nintendo's consoles, sometimes even due to hardware problems, like the file size restrictins on the wii which prevented Super Meat Boy from being released in that console

Well than his comment about "[The console makers]" should read simply Xbox if like you say that is now the case. Though reading it seems like it may be in the past tense, but considering the rest of it I'm not not so sure.

NuclearKangaroo:
also is he now not allowed to have an opinion? one that btw a lot of customers seems to have

Its called being professional in getting that opinion across. The potshot at the big three was bush league, and the fanboyism is not something a developer should be indulging in.

NuclearKangaroo:

hell in fact, i believe his opinion to be more genuine knowing he has nothing to gain, unlike all those PS3 devs speaking about "TEH POWAH OF DA CELL" last gen

Yeah I'm sure its genuine which is what makes him such an idiot. When you say these sort of things because you were say given a big bucket of cash by Microsoft, or you are just outright owned by Sony than that is perfectly acceptable. Such people aren't marks, they're in on it.

This guy with nothing to gain is making himself look very foolish.

Enjoy perpetuating such asinine notions with your doomsayer judgments. Always makes me laugh a little inside when people wrap themselves up in their bubbles of political correctness so tightly, that they lose touch of the actual reality around them. Want to know the truth? The truth is that Fargo is wildly respected as both a developer and as a game industry advocate. The man can absolutely speak his mind if he chooses to, and his honesty is hand in hand with his motion to move away from the 600 pound gorillas to start pushing out independent projects away from the limitations and pressure publishers offer.

Sure, he has nothing to gain. But if the guy has an opinion, then he damn well has the God-given right to share that opinion, and he should not have to worry about people like you getting so offended and politically correct over every little thing in life. Should not care, but it is the so many people also like that that feeds this line-of-thinking and keeps it alive. What makes it funny, though, is that Brian Fargo will do just fine on his own, just as he always has.

I 100% agree that Steam has done wonders for the PC. Dont get me wrong Steam isnt perfect and over the past year and a bit they have made some pretty stupid moves up at Valve, but without them this platform may not be dead but we probably wouldnt have had that big kick start we've enjoyed over the past few years.

Brian Fargo needs to get back to the coding pits to work on getting Wasteland 2 and Tides Of Numenera out there <cracks whip>. This is not the time for press statements about the gaming industry when there is work to be done. Next thing he'll expect is food and water when he's behind schedule.... :)

All kidding aside, I agree with him that STEAM has done a lot for the PC gaming industry, at the same time though it's lack of control and not "having a gun to anyone's head" has been responsible for a lot of it's current problems with quality control. Brian Fargo is big time in the game industry and well trusted, and his team is doing some great work, however for every "inXile", there are like a dozen indie developers literally shoveling crap onto STEAM through things like Greenlight due to a lack of oversight. It seems for every decent game STEAM has now, there are 3-4 crummy ones, and not being able to tell the difference on casual inspection when it comes to indie titles has made me very wary of trusting anything that doesn't come with an "inXile" type pedigree (so to speak).

I get how a lot of people like how open Valve is, but understand that a lot of people have increasingly been taking advantage of that.

Your "savior" won't be one anymore if the service turns into that aisle of budget software that used to be next to the place where they kept the real games back in the golden age of PC gaming... except without the division of physical space. This is literally a situation where your going to find say "Wasteland 2" sitting on the shelf right next to "Alien Disco Safari".

Giving indies a shot aside, it's still a form of DRM. I still don't like having to use it because I don't want 3rd party software needing to be attached to what I pay for and own.

People felt the same way when it was initially released.

I don't get where people see where there was a decline in PC gaming. There wasn't a decline in sales ever but there was a big decline in titles available to buy. If your particular favorite genre of games doesn't have a new title available to purchase you cannot purchase. This was caused by the Xbox and PS2 war between the manufacturers and the deals they made with the major publishers to bring more exclusives like Nintendo does and that took away titles from PC. But it started earlier than that when Bungie was sold to Microsoft and Microsoft took Halo and chose to make it the flagship game for Xbox when it was originally being developed as a PC title. Since then the big money from the console manufacturers have worked with the big publishers to make console games and many as exclusive title thus stifling the PC games market with fewer new titles to buy.

Nurb:
Giving indies a shot aside, it's still a form of DRM. I still don't like having to use it because I don't want 3rd party software needing to be attached to what I pay for and own.

People felt the same way when it was initially released.

It's either account based activation (like Steam) or stuff like Securom, Starforce etc.

Pick your poison. PC gamers voted with their wallets in the late 2000s for the former.

Shadow-Phoenix:
He was right about the start, bit too much on the supposed "dark ages" though,that part is always exaggerated these days with the tinted glasses.

Yeah, there was definitely a minor feeling of dread for a few years. I grew up buying used games at Babbages, which became Electronics Boutique, which became EBGames, which became GameStop. You could find a wide range of PC titles. Then that shelf space quickly disappeared. There was definitely a few years there were a pretty good number of games never made it to PC and finding older titles was hard. I'd sometimes wait to get a title for a bit cheaper, but then it just completely sell out. At that point, it was pretty much gone. The used market vanished (not a big deal really), but the cheap games vanished too. But, the idea that "PC gaming is dead" was always hyperbole.

I'm pretty sure that digital distribution would have taken off without Steam, but Fargo's point that Valve could have controlled the market more tightly as a good one.

Still I couldn't much care for what Valve does these days, they've opened the flood gates and stirred a lot of hassle on their end, if Jim and Total Biscuit as well as others point out what's currently going wrong on Steam's end then I'm pretty sure something bad is happening, then again it's not like I can look at the front page and shop to my hearts content, I used to be like that maybe 3-4 years ago but now it's different to a point where I don't shop there any more, I instead shop elsewhere where I know there's something I want at a good deal and that isn't cluttered with crap I don't want, also other places that are more open and aren't DRM.

Serious question here. You really stopped shopping on Steam because it's "cluttered with crap"? I never understand this idea. It's like saying Steam is now just a bargain bin filled with junk. But a bargain bin requires you to dig through it to find what you want. You can find what you want in Steam by searching for it. I assume that since you are posting on the Escapist that you must read game reviews and follow the industry. Do you really only search for games by looking at the front page of DD services? That just doesn't add up.

Also, Steam's front page is still pretty useful. The front page deals are still curated by Valve. The top selling games are usually interesting, although there is plenty of "early access" there.

Do you really use digital storefronts for "game discovery"? I mainly use gaming websites for that. I've been on Steam since the beginning and I don't think I've ever bought a game based on seeing it on the front page. So, for me that aspect of Steam hasn't changed much. Why should it bother me that someone can use Steam to buy Pretty Pony Stables or whatever? How can you not "shop to [your] hearts content" now?

I think the "rebirth" of PC gaming is less Steam and more that console gaming is now basically PC gaming!
Seriously! It once was: Put cassette, cartridge, CD, ... in the console and start playing. It was the PC, that wanted to install things. Needed special drivers. Had to update things. ... You had to wait for a "long" time until you could play. Consoles were much faster and more reliable!

But all that is on consoles now too! What gives?
And so - "special" console-only games aside - why should I use a console over a PC? I can plug a controller in there too!

Fuck steam! Even if it cured cancer I still wouldn't touch that piece of shit DRM system nor any games that require it.

I want to see more stores like Humble Bundle and Good Old Games that are against this bullshit DRM crap.

Was PC gaming really that bad though? I only took a brief break from PC gaming when the original Xbox came out and I couldn't afford both, but it seems to have died and come back to life in those few years.

StewShearer:
"[The console makers] put al sorts of guns to our head," said Fargo. "Valve has all this power but they don't wield it. They let us work in an open system. So for that I can't say good enough things about them."

Not sure I agree there. Consoles do impose a lot of restrictions but Valve are hardly angels. I like to think they're the good guys in this industry but they did bring in DRM for starters. Plus they kinda do exercise their power - not happy about the state of Steam's QA (or total lack thereof)? Tough. same goes for guarantees. You can't really turn away from Steam now as you're completely invested in it and most games are only available there.

Whilst I've never heard of this guy or his studio, a quick search show's he's selling a game in early access for AAA price. Call me ignorant but it hardly looks like it's got a AAA budget and the first review says that it was unplayable at launch. I'm sure this is the open system that devs dream about but it's hardly good for the consumer. Even if this stdio is ok, there are 10 shitty rip-off merchants for every honest dev on Steam these days. I just wish they'd exercise a little of that power they have on developers.

Yeah I'm not about to praise DRM that's pretty much forced upon you if you want to game on PC. Sure there are a few outliers, GOG and the like. But they're a minority. It's a real pain in the ass for someone like me with a piss poor connection, I could hop on a bus into town, buy a game, get home and have it installing before 2Gig has even downloaded. But even then Steam is a requirement for a lot of physical copies too these days, so if there's a fairly sizeable update I'm shit out of luck.

Between the disturbingly cult like praising of Newell and the trio of bumbling console developers it looks like I'd be better off sticking to my 3DS, or finding a new hobby entirely.

JimmyPage666:
Was PC gaming really that bad though?

Nope. It was never bad.

There was never a gigantic games crash like console makers had. Sales have never taken a long extended drop.

At most, as someone else said, there was just less games to buy in places like Gamestop (I had Gamecrazy back when I was a kid). You could still find them in major stores though and there were still lots of quality PC only developers.

A saviour we never needed. PC gaming was always doing fine, and its only people shouting FUD that ever claimed otherwise. In comes a loud and shouting DRM called Steam and buys people sympathy with sales.

magter3001:
Well I will say this, either as a PC person I either spend $300 on a console and then $60 per game that I can't mod, or I spend $500 every 2 years on upgrading my pc but get games for $6 or $20 dollars with steam or the humble bundle. I think I choose the PC if only for the comfortability factor.

you spend 500 dollars every 2 years? what kind of a beast are you running? trimonitor setup and all i assume?

NuclearKangaroo:

also brian fargo is 100% correct, sorry anti-steamers but thats the truth

No hes not. hes factually wrong that PC games were ever at "Dark age".

Middle_Index:

hahaha only 2?

well, Valve did never learn to count to 3....

cypher-raige:

It's either account based activation (like Steam) or stuff like Securom, Starforce etc.

Pick your poison. PC gamers voted with their wallets in the late 2000s for the former.

Or its no DRM (GOG style)

Valderis:
I want to see more stores like Humble Bundle and Good Old Games that are against this bullshit DRM crap.

You do realize that Humble Bundle is a steam key reseller right? (well not always, but most of the time) And its not even the best bundle store out there.

Carsus Tyrell:
But even then Steam is a requirement for a lot of physical copies too these days, so if there's a fairly sizeable update I'm shit out of luck.

you can disable automatic updating and just dont start the manual one or do it overnight or something. It will be like playing a console game before patching it, except that on consoles you cant do that (unless you dont conenct to internet, then you can).

I wouldn't say it's a "Savior" of PC gaming. But it sure as heck launched PC gaming right back into mainstream for both consumers and developers.

magter3001:
Well I will say this, either as a PC person I either spend $300 on a console and then $60 per game that I can't mod, or I spend $500 every 2 years on upgrading my pc but get games for $6 or $20 dollars with steam or the humble bundle. I think I choose the PC if only for the comfortability factor.

I haven't spent $60 on a console game in 10 years. I think Halo 2 or something was the last.

If you're in a game store, you just need to look a little to the left or right to see the preowned shelves.

As for new games, Steam tracks relatively closely with hard-copy game prices too. You don't get a new game on Steam for $20. You get it for full price or $10 off if it's new.

Now, don't get me wrong, my steam account is in the several hundreds of games right now. I love picking up older games that I missed for $10 or less. But let's not maintain lies about new game pricing.

As for the games I buy on console, I also get buy one get one free discounts on preowned games at my local non-chain game store. I have literally gotten better deals for my console than on steam and that's crazy. But my backlog of games is so large that I can easily afford to wait six months or a year before playing most games.

Strazdas:

Or its no DRM (GOG style)

GoG is a niche service. Not a serious competitor to Steam.

Whatever people have to say about Steam and their very real frustrations with download speed and DRM, its currently the best option in the market. Consoles have become more painful for both developers and gamers whereas PC gaming is becoming easier and cheaper.

Steam has been brilliant up until the past couple of years. I think they are really shooting themselves in the foot by becoming more of a 'app store' dumping ground rather than a carefully crafted shop window. That's my only real issue with Steam though, they have begun to squander some of their best points by muddying the water with shovel-ware and scam-ware. If they can strike a good balance steam will continue to be the only truly complete digital distribution platform.

Steam certainly made things take off after they got good... started off as the next thing to malware, though.

As for being "savior"... not so much. There was no crisis to avert. Most of the reason PC is up while consoles are down is the reality of what the internet has done to gaming. Console game patching, updates, et cetera are a pain in the ass. Their input devices of choice are terrible for that sort of thing, as are their operating systems. People flock to convenience, and even back when we downloaded patches manually, PC gaming was more convenient than what consoles have become.

The people that live in The Sticks, Maine actually hate Vavle because they all but destroyed PC gaming because the highest internet speeds are from DSL.

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