Gearbox Prez Lets Off Some Steam About Valve

Illustration for article titled Gearbox Prez Lets Off Some Steam About Valve

Randy Pitchford, the man, trusts Valve, the company responsible for Steam. Randy Pitchford, the businessman and president of Gearbox Software, makers of Borderlands, may not. He calls the digital distribution service exploitative and a "money grab."

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Why the harsh words? After all Gearbox and Valve have been tight in the past, with the former developing Half-Life expansions for the latter. Pitchford tells MaximumPC that, even though he loves Valve games, "There's so much conflict of interest there that it's horrid."

"It would be much better if Steam was its own business," he says. "It's actually really, really dangerous for the rest of the industry to allow Valve to win."

"I love Valve games, and I do business with the company," Pitchford notes. Borderlands is currently available for pre-sale through Steam. "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."

Maybe Randy got up on the wrong side of the bed the morning of the interview. Maybe this is just one of his eyebrow raising "tall tales" of Valve. Maybe he's just got a game promote.

Pitchford's answer about who might be a better solution than Valve and Steam might surprise you. You can enjoy it at the full interview linked below.

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Randy Pitchford Talks Borderlands, Piracy, and Why He Doesn't Trust Valve [MaximumPC via VG247]

DISCUSSION

DuvalMagic
DuvalMagic

As a gamer, I *love* Valve's games. Hell, I've *made* some of Valve's games!

As a customer, I love Steam. I like owning a credential that I can use from any terminal and I like the software. There are other things I like, too.

As a businessman, I appreciate the access to Valve's customers that they are providing with Steam. I think there's value to that access. I'm really happy that the Brothers in Arms games are available on Steam and I think Steam customers are really going to dig Borderlands. I have been and hope to be a partner to Valve for many years.

From an industry perspective of digital distribution on the PC, I think Steam is doing it the best right now. They're in front and they're really getting value out of their leadership position with digital distribution on the PC.

From an industry perspective, I believe that Steam would be even better off if it were a separate company. Trust issues that result from conflict of interest could be mitigated if Steam were a separate company. Take that only as analysis. It doesn't matter how much I trust Valve or how trustworthy Valve actually is - it's just perception within segments of the publishing and development community that, I guess, no one is really talking about. I'm on record in this article saying how I personally trust Valve. I was attempting to comment on perception from some angles of the industry.

I also believe that gamers and customers and anyone making games using 3rd party digital distribution systems would be greatly benefited if Steam had some viable competitors. Competition generally drives higher quality products and services at lower prices. I can't see how anyone could argue against that point. If we love Steam, we should hope that as competition appears that it prompts the Steam folks to go faster and better towards improving the service and the pricing.

In spite of the implication made in this blurb, I do not want Microsoft to control digital distribution on PC, but believe they (and others) could enter the space if they wanted to and help the competitive landscape and even, perhaps, help to standardize the landscape a bit. I believe that because Valve is a game maker that generally "gets it" I think there's a lot of value to the position they have and I'm really excited about the risk they took and the foresight Valve showed in paving the way there.

These are not mutually exclusive feelings and they are all honest and forthright.