Gearbox wants Steam and Microsoft's Games for Windows to support cross-platform play.
Before Steam and similar platfoms, everyone with a PC copy of Quake or Counter-Strike used to be able to play against everyone else. However, the PC market is becoming segmented with games now incorporating programs like Steam and Games for Windows that are incompatible with other types. Gearbox hopes to bridge this gap.
The studio has good reason too, with popular multiplayer title Borderlands available through various retail and digital distribution outlets. At the recent London Games Festival, Gearbox's Steve Gibson said: "[We] want people to be able to play together and right now if a guy buys a game on Games for Windows and a guy buys a game on Steam - they can't play together."
"If another guy bought it in a retail store, he can't play with the first two guys," he added. Gibson is concerned that "silos are being built" within the PC gaming industry itself and hopes that everyone can someday work together. "Everybody's separating out and it's really... as a developer who just wants gamers to be able to play games together, it's frustrating right now," Gibson continued. "Things like that are hurting the PC industry for gamers."
He hopes PC players will encourage Valve and Microsoft to "play nice." On the surface, Gibson's idea makes sense because he's talking about cross-platform play that is really on the same platform. On the other hand, I don't think we would ever see cross-platform play between the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, and the difference between Steam and Games for Windows seems to be about the same. "Playing nice" is something that would make multiplayer game developers like Gearbox happy, but is it really possible?