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Gearbox: Valve has too much power

Gearbox: Valve has too much power

Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford has raised concerns that Valve is getting too powerful for it's own good.

Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford has raised concerns that Valve is getting too powerful within the PC games market and that Steam presents a conflict of interest for the Half-Life developer, as well as worries that Valve may be exploiting smaller developers.

Though Gearbox and Valve have a long history together and the former made it's name making expansion packs for the latter, Pitchford says that the relationship between the two has become a bit uncomfortable because of Steam and the position it holds in the market.

"I'll tell you what. Steam helps [make it easier to buy games]. As a guy in this industry though, I don't trust Valve," Pitchford told Maximum PC.

"It would be much better if Steam was its own business. There's so much conflict of interest there that it's horrid," he said. "It's actually really, really dangerous for the rest of the industry to allow Valve to win."

"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 it's 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."

This isn't the first time that the idea of Valve spinning Steam into a separate company has been raised, though Valve hasn't made any announcements or comments about the idea. In fact, Valve rarely says much about Steam or how successful the platform has been for them.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

53 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
shigllgetcha 8th October 2009, 14:08 Quote
then dont use steam. looking a gift horse in the mouth. value started up a distribution system that suits dev.s and customers
GFC 8th October 2009, 14:10 Quote
Bit-tech, what does gearbox say about their power level?
- ITS OVER 9000!!!
lol
UrbanMarine 8th October 2009, 14:13 Quote
That's easier said than done. DOW 2 for example requires Steam for online play. Which is just as bad as requiring GFWL. If other companies follow DOW 2 then we're screwed.
l3v1ck 8th October 2009, 14:15 Quote
Games for Windows Live = EPIC FAIL
Steam = EPIC WIN

Until other companies pull their finger out and make something as good and as un-intrusive as Steam, Valve with have the advantage.
Veles 8th October 2009, 14:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanMarine
That's easier said than done. DOW 2 for example requires Steam for online play. Which is just as bad as requiring GFWL. If other companies follow DOW 2 then we're screwed.

It requires GFWL too :p

And they're not the only 3rd party to require steam, Empire: Total War does too. Not just for multiplayer but to install it too like HL2 does (I think DoW2 does as well).
Blademrk 8th October 2009, 14:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanMarine
That's easier said than done. DOW 2 for example requires Steam for online play. Which is just as bad as requiring GFWL. If other companies follow DOW 2 then we're screwed.


DOW2 requires both Steam and GFWL.

edit: beaten to it by Veles
Brooxy 8th October 2009, 14:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
Games for Windows Live = EPIC FAIL
Steam = EPIC WIN

Until other companies pull their finger out and make something as good and as un-intrusive as Steam, Valve with have the advantage.

DoW2 requiring both? EPIC MEDIOCRITY!
TreeDude 8th October 2009, 15:35 Quote
I will take Steam over Securom any day of the week. Until a better DRM system is developed, Steam will continue to pick up, well, steam. Steam is easy and secure. It is everything the customer wants.
ffjason 8th October 2009, 15:36 Quote
GTAVI uses both GFWL & Rockstar Games Loader (both of which are horrible systems) at least Steam isn't intrusive and annoying. I don't have a problem with using a system like that but I would prefer one which is separate to the games. I like the fact I can load all my games through steam and have the steam friends enabled to chat with mates from in game. I'd rather that then xfire or other forced game clients which have worse features and lack style and simplicity.
AshT 8th October 2009, 15:37 Quote
I went into town the other day to buy Aion. The Sainsburys I visited had one game for sale on PC - and that was WoW.

Valve and Steam do more for PC gaming than ANYONE including that impotent PC Gaming Alliance or whatever it was called.
l3v1ck 8th October 2009, 15:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooxy
DoW2 requiring both? EPIC MEDIOCRITY!
That's politics though. Games don't have to have both unless the power that be say so.
sear 8th October 2009, 15:39 Quote
I find it cute how everyone instantly rushes to Valve's rescue. The fact of the matter is, though, in both creating their own games and the platform that they distribute them on, there is a major conflict of interest, especially because competitors use that platform as well. The cut that Valve gets from distributing those games may also be disproportionate, as Pitchford hints at, and frankly, as a consumer, you are getting a raw deal with Steam, since your games are tied to the platform. Yes, it's easy and convenient and better than most other digital distribution systems, but you don't truly own your games - and if Valve goes under, do you really think that the first thing on their mind will be to let Steam work independently of an Internet connection? Do you really think that as their offices are being cleared out, they're going to have the time or the manpower to get things up and running for all of their users? And that's to speak nothing of all the third-party publishers - are they going to let you play their Steam-bought games offline? It's possible that that's part of the agreement in using Steam, but it also may well not be, and I don't think Valve would have the time in the event of a bankruptcy to go through negotiations with all those different companies (nor would they want to talk to Valve at that point, except through law suits, for that matter).
impar 8th October 2009, 15:47 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Steam isn't the answer. Steam helps us as customers, but it's also a money grab...
Especially if you pay in Euros.
Dreaming 8th October 2009, 15:51 Quote
I kinda agree. What if there was a competitor to HL3, for example. Valve sells HL3 for £34.99. Competitor also sells their game for £34.99. Valve says "oh, you need to add distribution tax onto that" and takes it up to £44.99, whilst charging their own game nothing.

It skews the market, so the only way to directly compete would be to charge less and then it's not accurately representing the merits of the games in terms of profit (ultimately what it comes down to, publishers / investors dont back games that dont make money), because Valve is dictating the market.
Squallers 8th October 2009, 15:51 Quote
One thing i've noticed about steam is that unless they're having a sale it's usually cheaper to buy a boxed copy, in my experience. Case in point DOW2, i paid £25 from amazon and yet dispite requireing steam to run it was £10 more expensive for the digital copy
Thedarkrage 8th October 2009, 16:03 Quote
Ok look at it this way with steam the games are a little more expensive.
but look at what you get unlimited ability to down load your games you don't get that with EA and that is a big thing you get totally free online community stuff voice chat messaging all in one place think about if Microsoft GFWL was as big as steam you would have to pay for everything and i mean EVERYTHING
Cobalt 8th October 2009, 16:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squallers
One thing i've noticed about steam is that unless they're having a sale it's usually cheaper to buy a boxed copy, in my experience. Case in point DOW2, i paid £25 from amazon and yet dispite requireing steam to run it was £10 more expensive for the digital copy

Thats the trick as far as I'm concerned. When steam has a sale its usually cheaper than anywhere else so I snap up as many games as I can, which keeps me going for a long while. When a big new title comes out though, I would always buy it from amazon or play etc.

I don't think Gearbox should really complain. There are other distribution services on the market and the retail channel still exists. If they wanted they could provide the download themselves without requiring the platform. Best case in that scenario you just sell the serial code and let bit-torrent distribute your files. Save a ton of bandwidth that way.
airchie 8th October 2009, 16:38 Quote
Until GFWL or any other system is as polished as steam, and has as many features and as much choice of games, comsumers will vote with their wallets.

I'm all in favour of someone developing an open standard for in-game chat, in-game voice, multi-player game setup, update provision, DRM etc (basically all the things Steam does). Problem is, the system would need to charge consumers for it to make it worthwhile.

As for the whole 'what if Steam goes Bankrupt' arguement, I can't see it happening tbh.
If it somehow did, it wouldn't be a sudden thing, like we wake up one day and the steam servers are all dead and nothing works.
Rustynutts 8th October 2009, 16:58 Quote
You can play most of the games in steam without it running at all. Just go to steam apps folder and run the game from there. It works for Fallout and GTA and prob others to...
rpsgc 8th October 2009, 17:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sear
I find it cute how everyone instantly rushes to Valve's rescue. The fact of the matter is, though, in both creating their own games and the platform that they distribute them on, there is a major conflict of interest, especially because competitors use that platform as well. The cut that Valve gets from distributing those games may also be disproportionate, as Pitchford hints at, and frankly, as a consumer, you are getting a raw deal with Steam, since your games are tied to the platform. Yes, it's easy and convenient and better than most other digital distribution systems, but you don't truly own your games - and if Valve goes under, do you really think that the first thing on their mind will be to let Steam work independently of an Internet connection? Do you really think that as their offices are being cleared out, they're going to have the time or the manpower to get things up and running for all of their users? And that's to speak nothing of all the third-party publishers - are they going to let you play their Steam-bought games offline? It's possible that that's part of the agreement in using Steam, but it also may well not be, and I don't think Valve would have the time in the event of a bankruptcy to go through negotiations with all those different companies (nor would they want to talk to Valve at that point, except through law suits, for that matter).

QFFT

I can't believe how blind (naive) some people are when defending Valve and Steam.
proxess 8th October 2009, 17:31 Quote
Only annoying part about Steam is the game overlay.
Lepermessiah 8th October 2009, 17:32 Quote
Yeah, I love Valve and steam, but he does have a point, there is a bit of a conflict of interest here. BUT, why doesn't someone else step up to the plate instead of crying about it? Epic? They are useless, as are ID, sad considering they are where they are because of the PC. At least valve is still focused mainly on PC, and steam has done a tonne for the PC gaming community.
Lepermessiah 8th October 2009, 17:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sear
I find it cute how everyone instantly rushes to Valve's rescue. The fact of the matter is, though, in both creating their own games and the platform that they distribute them on, there is a major conflict of interest, especially because competitors use that platform as well. The cut that Valve gets from distributing those games may also be disproportionate, as Pitchford hints at, and frankly, as a consumer, you are getting a raw deal with Steam, since your games are tied to the platform. Yes, it's easy and convenient and better than most other digital distribution systems, but you don't truly own your games - and if Valve goes under, do you really think that the first thing on their mind will be to let Steam work independently of an Internet connection? Do you really think that as their offices are being cleared out, they're going to have the time or the manpower to get things up and running for all of their users? And that's to speak nothing of all the third-party publishers - are they going to let you play their Steam-bought games offline? It's possible that that's part of the agreement in using Steam, but it also may well not be, and I don't think Valve would have the time in the event of a bankruptcy to go through negotiations with all those different companies (nor would they want to talk to Valve at that point, except through law suits, for that matter).


Come on now, this is extreme, there are already ways to get steam games to work without steam, lets be real, that is a non issue.
Lepermessiah 8th October 2009, 17:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rpsgc
Quote:
Originally Posted by sear
I find it cute how everyone instantly rushes to Valve's rescue. The fact of the matter is, though, in both creating their own games and the platform that they distribute them on, there is a major conflict of interest, especially because competitors use that platform as well. The cut that Valve gets from distributing those games may also be disproportionate, as Pitchford hints at, and frankly, as a consumer, you are getting a raw deal with Steam, since your games are tied to the platform. Yes, it's easy and convenient and better than most other digital distribution systems, but you don't truly own your games - and if Valve goes under, do you really think that the first thing on their mind will be to let Steam work independently of an Internet connection? Do you really think that as their offices are being cleared out, they're going to have the time or the manpower to get things up and running for all of their users? And that's to speak nothing of all the third-party publishers - are they going to let you play their Steam-bought games offline? It's possible that that's part of the agreement in using Steam, but it also may well not be, and I don't think Valve would have the time in the event of a bankruptcy to go through negotiations with all those different companies (nor would they want to talk to Valve at that point, except through law suits, for that matter).

QFFT

I can't believe how blind (naive) some people are when defending Valve and Steam.

Hilarious, as the naive one was him really, he needs a tin foil hat. Sure, I agree there is a conflict of inetrest, but as for truly owning the games? LOL, thats a non issue, I burn copies, back them up on an external drive, and there are already ways to play steam games without steam. I also doubt they would do not already have something in palce to allow these games to work in the case of the highly unlikely even they do go under.
NethLyn 8th October 2009, 17:47 Quote
Put it this way, Valve's "crime" is to waste the budget of several future games on the advertising for one new one.

Aside from that, they haven't put any other foot wrong that I can see other than misjudging of demand on the servers eg UTIII or a TF2 update. I don't see Gearbox coming up with a solution for the ever-growing server demand that Steam creates, it's bold-faced envy from a company that churned out a bunch of WWII games and the odd Halo port.

And what's Gearbox's solution anyway if Valve are so dangerous, "let us have a go"?
ZERO <ibis> 8th October 2009, 17:50 Quote
So how much is valve charging that is so unreasonable? Are they charging different companies different amounts based on how much their products compete with valve?
cheeriokilla 8th October 2009, 18:29 Quote
"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 it's 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."

The indie developer who made AUDIOSURF thinks a little bit different on that matter, so does the creator of Braid... I hate when people talk BS... I don't care if it's Valve that's behind it, at least it isn't microsoft and they are doing a hell of a job in comparison with other developers/publishers(EA Download Manager is a perfect example) on the matter... Besides steam is, I think, helping PC gaming... People were not buying games because of secu-rom, publishers weren't releasing much games without secu-rom and then sales weren't like they would've been... So whatever you were gonna invest in secu-rom, invest in something better... AT THIS MOMENT it is called Steam... PERIOD
B1GBUD 8th October 2009, 18:42 Quote
I would never have bought indie games if it wasn't for Valve.
samkiller42 8th October 2009, 18:54 Quote
I prefer to have Physical Media over Digital, i hated Steam so much i got rid of it.
I do use GFWL, but only for Halo 2, and it's only running when i play Halo 2, and my machines powerfull enough for me not to worry about it anyway.

Sam
Spraduke 8th October 2009, 19:02 Quote
The guys behind red orchestra also love steam and rightfully swear by it. Personnaly I own a ton of games on steam and appart from a hurricane taking there servers offline for a day it's been perfect
thehippoz 8th October 2009, 19:18 Quote
I don't see how offering titles (that can't be published by the big houses to a broad audience), and charging for that audience is exploiting

small devs probably would want it on steam asap.. having no real competition in this area (kinda like microsofts os) has it's ups in that everyone is using it.. your target audience is there with wallets open!
tk421 8th October 2009, 19:27 Quote
you have to take it all into the proper perspective too. Steam is much much more than GFWL will ever be - it is a very convenient one stop shop. you can buy and download your games. you get chat. you get online play, that is quite frankly, leagues beyond anything else out there.

you have instant, easy access to several great mods - that in the past meant scouring the interwebs, and downloading from quite frankly questionable sources.

the only time that i have ever heard of steam having major issues was with the HL2 activation in the first week.

if Gearbox thinks that they can do better, let them. the ability to talk $@#* is far removed from the ability to back aforementioned $@#* with meaningful action.
Denis_iii 8th October 2009, 20:08 Quote
as much as I love steam and use it for majority of my game purchases I have to agree
it would be better in the long run for steam to be spinned off to seperate company, a non profit one that is funded by all developers who want to sell tehre wears on steam, be it games/music/music/pics/art etc
in essence, steam should be an opensource online framework that 3rd parties can develop front ends to, i want to buy my games from one place online, not have to use steam for some, windows live wotever for others and westwoods krap version
but wotever happens all of then need to provide a resail section so i can sell games i no longer play
gavomatic57 8th October 2009, 20:18 Quote
They may have a point, but that is not to say Steam isn't a great system. I would rather buy a game on Steam than on disc, just for convenience, especially after a reinstall (seperate drive for games!), but I think Steam has grown to a size that dwarfs Valve and it should be business in its own right and a level playing field for all developers.
Er-El 8th October 2009, 20:37 Quote
But don't Valve make no profit from Steamworks? I thought the only revenue they get from it is when they make deals with other publishers/indie devs on specific games and take a share from it.
cheeriokilla 8th October 2009, 21:06 Quote
People what the heck is in your heads? Steam being equal to all developers and being something that has nothing to do with Valve? It's their property, it's been their hard work that has put Steam where it is and I think they have done a great job! I don't know how it would be in someone else's hands...

Come to your senses people you wouldn't invest in a project, bring it to be the best in it's class and then say "you know what, we aren't being fair with the rest of the developers, lets all share"...
tk421 8th October 2009, 21:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeriokilla
People what the heck is in your heads? Steam being equal to all developers and being something that has nothing to do with Valve? It's their property, it's been their hard work that has put Steam where it is and I think they have done a great job! I don't know how it would be in someone else's hands...

Come to your senses people you wouldn't invest in a project, bring it to be the best in it's class and then say "you know what, we aren't being fair with the rest of the developers, lets all share"...

that's the problem with kids today ... they expect much more than they deserve.

i blame Linux.
ZERO <ibis> 8th October 2009, 22:04 Quote
I blame socialism...

as for physical vs digital I used to be all about physical media especially when steam first started I really did not like it and I did not truest it becuase of all the bugs. Today as a server owner I still do not trust it very much but I do now trust my purchases though steam and know that I can access my games. Also the sales they have are something you can not get anywhere else.
Star*Dagger 9th October 2009, 00:50 Quote
I use and enjoy Steam. As far as it being a conflict of interest, I have seen now abuse as a customer, in fact I have enjoyed deep discounts in the purchase price of games.
If Gearheads want to bark up a tree they should complain as to how Microsloth is holding back not only PC Games development, but the entire human races development since we have a very very poor OS as a standard (no Win7 will not make the situation better, Johnny).
IF Steam and Valve abuse their position, then I will be the first to take up arms and start shooting at them, and complaining to my EU MP, until then I'll ask first "is this game available on Steam?!"

Yours in Adjudicatory Plasma,
Star*Dagger
Aracos 9th October 2009, 01:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GFC
Bit-tech, what does gearbox say about their power level?
- ITS OVER 9000!!!
lol

Thank you, you just made my night ^_^
stonedsurd 9th October 2009, 02:27 Quote
Steam is too damned expensive, IMO.

They make weekend deals seem like a great deal, but c'mon, when your only overheads are server charges, it makes very little sense to charge as much as a physical disc.
Plus, $40 is something like 2000 INR, which is a little over double the amount most Indians pay for games. Make it competitive, Steam.
BurningFeetMan 9th October 2009, 06:53 Quote
Steam has been a god send to us gamers in Australia. Most games here cost between $100 AU to $130 AU. With the current exchange rate of 0.90 US for every Australian dollar, that's over double the price that we pay for games!!!

But thanks to Steam, I can get all my game titles for under $50, usually around $20 as I wait a couple of months before buying the games I'd like to.

Lets not forget the game packs too, such as the recent THQ one. Something like, 12 games for $40!!!
AshT 9th October 2009, 10:16 Quote
I like the post earlier that said Steam should be a non-profit seperately run service.

Riiiiiiiight. So how do you plan for the future with fk'all money in the bank?

How would they compete with similiar technologies?

How would they be able to afford R&D and compete with something as dramatic as OnLive! ?

I get the impression your parents need to increase your pocket money maybe? ;)
proxess 9th October 2009, 10:19 Quote
It really depends where you are. It's a shame they don't follow the conversion rates exactly. Plus some countries are paying other country's taxes, because Steam's service isn't localized to those countries (yet?). Plus they don't follow the economical state of thus countries. For example the European store. You just can't compare Luxembourg or Belgium to Portugal or Spain's economical state.
Nictron 9th October 2009, 10:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreaming
I kinda agree. What if there was a competitor to HL3, for example. Valve sells HL3 for £34.99. Competitor also sells their game for £34.99. Valve says "oh, you need to add distribution tax onto that" and takes it up to £44.99, whilst charging their own game nothing.

It skews the market, so the only way to directly compete would be to charge less and then it's not accurately representing the merits of the games in terms of profit (ultimately what it comes down to, publishers / investors dont back games that dont make money), because Valve is dictating the market.

Wait a minute, Steam is and has by no means a monopoly!

There are many other online distribution outlets to use as well as the normal retail chain. Also the fact that small indies use steam and not the competition means that they are getting what they want from the system. Do you really think an Indie will approach EA for online distribution. EA will rape them senseless.

Sure there is a conflict of interest there, but does anyone have proof that they used that influence? If so steam will get sued by one of the developers!

Honestly steam is great and I can see the reasoning on both sides but most of this is speculation and hot air.
Lepermessiah 9th October 2009, 15:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonedsurd
Steam is too damned expensive, IMO.

They make weekend deals seem like a great deal, but c'mon, when your only overheads are server charges, it makes very little sense to charge as much as a physical disc.
Plus, $40 is something like 2000 INR, which is a little over double the amount most Indians pay for games. Make it competitive, Steam.

WOW, talk about ignorance personified, ydo you know how expensive it is mainatainignservers of the magnitude Steam needs, as well as bandwidth? Get real, its huge.

Also, Like anything look around for the best deal, no one os forcing you to buy steam, but, I do when there are great deals, and often times I bought game soff steam when they were a lot cheaper there then anything else. Its called being a smart consumner.
Breach 9th October 2009, 20:33 Quote
In the very beginning I doubt they intended for Steam to become what it did, and was just a way to uniformly update and distribute Valve games and HL based mods. But it was buggy as hell, and even pissed me off to the point where I stopped playing for a while because the servers were down every other day, meaning I couldn't play Counter Strike every other day. It was a joke.

But they obviously saw the power of this engine and threw more behind it, and allowed other small developers to be featured on it as well as a very easy way to reach customers in a way being a boxed game at a real store never could. Almost like an AppStore for games

It seems like people are just bitching because Valve is the first to actually get online game distribution right and are making a killing while the rest flounder around in their traditional business models.

Is there a reason other developers cant develop their own platforms if they are unhappy?
Nodule 9th October 2009, 20:33 Quote
LOL. I was just reading the other thread on this subject and see Lepermessiah peddling out the same twaddle he is on that thread
stonedsurd 10th October 2009, 12:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nodule
LOL. I was just reading the other thread on this subject and see Lepermessiah peddling out the same twaddle he is on that thread

Yeah, I was about to reply, then I realized there'd be no point.
airchie 12th October 2009, 23:46 Quote
Leper's posts in this thread all seem to be on the money?
What is it exactly that you think he has got wrong?
impar 13th October 2009, 00:30 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by airchie
What is it exactly that you think he has got wrong?
Digital distribution more costly than the traditional retail model.
airchie 14th October 2009, 11:49 Quote
Well neither of you gave any references to back up your claims either way.
I agree with Leper that running the amount of servers Steam must have to, not to mention their bandwidth and power costs must be extremely expensive.
I have no idea if that cost is comparable to the standard retail model but until you put up some figures, neither do you.
matthewd65 28th August 2011, 00:03 Quote
But Come On All you have to do is blame microsoft

$100 dollars worth of game(s)
Steam would give: 7 Games (Indie)
Miecrosoft would give : Team Fortress 2
....Tf2 Is Free Btw
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