Volition Boss Says No More Duff PC Ports

By John Walker on March 17th, 2011 at 6:01 pm.

Shoot it in its physics!

There’s some lovely comments from Volition‘s studio manager, Eric Barker, over on Eurogamer. Discussing why it’s always worth developing for PC when creating cross platform titles, and how Volition will no longer be using external developers for their PC versions, he drops this gem of a comment that I’ll be quoting for some time to come.

“I don’t think [piracy] is something at the forefront for us. First and foremost, we want to make sure we’re making a game people would want to pirate. Let’s make a game that’s worth stealing, and then we’ll worry about making sure they don’t.”

It’s tremendous news that Volition are taking full control over their PC versions. While Saints Row 2 and Red Faction: Guerilla were both tremendously good games, both suffered due to PC issues. Saints Row 2, especially, was a pain in the arse to get working in any playable fashion, which was agony for a game that offered so much fun. In fact, it’s testament to how good that game was that I kept playing it despite the infuriating framerates and stutters. But they promise this will be no more. On EG he states,

“You should see [the PC version of Red Faction: Armageddon], it looks absolutely beautiful. If you’ve got a great graphics card it looks fantastic. We definitely believe PC games are great and if they’re done right and done well by a studio, they’re phenomenal. There’s a lot of debate and discussion. I can’t predict the future, but I’m really happy with how Red Faction: Armageddon looks on PC. It’s beautiful.”

With Red Faction: Armageddon coming out in May, and Saints Row: The Third hoped for by the end of the year, it’s rather good news that the THQ-owned studio are insisting on making the PC version. Hurrahs all round.

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92 Comments »

  1. Drakon says:

    What a guy!

    • westyfield says:

      What a guy!

    • Sarlix says:

      @westyfield I knew where that link was taking me before I even clicked it. Unfortunately the adverts killed the moment.

      What a shame!

    • Oneironaut says:

      I already miss Red Dwarf, even though I watched it for the first time only four months ago. I watched all 9 seasons in about 3 weeks and enjoyed it immensely, even though the last few weren’t that good.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer without him things would be much grimmer … something something something … Yul Brinner. SMEEEEEEG

    • jaheira says:

      ….. more reliable than a garden strimmer …

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Anyone linking to Red Dwarf automatically wins the comments thread. Congratulations!

    • brulleks says:

      Apparently they’re making a new full season as well, which *could* be great news, as long as they put more work into it than they did with Back to Earth.

      Also – have always enjoyed Volition’s games on PC despite their problems, hopefully this shows them maturing into the kind of AAA pc developer that they’ve always threatened to be.

    • Scatterbrainpaul says:

      Did anyone see the new Red Dwarf they had on Bravo last year?

      I caught one episode, so so bad

  2. DaftPunk says:

    Awwwwwww how nice of them :3

  3. Red_Avatar says:

    Haha I love that line – you’d be surprised how many pirates download a copy, play it for a few minutes then never play it again. So why on earth would they even BUY it then?

    • Wulf says:

      You know a lot of pirates then and have documented their behaviour?

      If we’re being anecdotal, I can say that according to habits of friends of mine, piracy is the best form of advertising, and leads to actual game sales. Say, for example, someone pirating Bulletstorm before the preorder period ended to see if it ran well on their computer, due to the lack of a demo.

    • Danarchist says:

      I am wearing my “The Pirate Bay: The RIAA is our B*tch” shirt today for irony, and because its green

    • Starky says:

      Anecdotally he’s right, when I was a pirate (unemployed student) I used to download more than I could ever play, most games maybe got 5 or 6 hours gameplay, if that.

      Now of course I’m employed, and have no need to pirate games – well thanks to Steam i have no need to pirate games, their sales feed me with more games than I have the time to play.

      I’d wager any genuine study or even proper poll would reveal it to be the truth, I bet 10% of the PC gaming populating are responsible for 80% or more of pirate downloads.

      An average semi-hardcore PC gamer might buy 1 full price game every 1-2 months, along side 3-4 sale priced games.
      While a hardcore Pirate will probably download 2-3 games per week, if not more.

    • bill says:

      It’s been documented in music and movie pirates. They are mostly hoarders and download more than they can ever use. It was also shown in the piracy rates for the iphone – which are at about 85%-90% same as PC… but only 10% of iphone can run pirated software. No way they can use all that.

  4. Meatloaf says:

    THQ, you just gained a modest pile of respect.

    Also hooray Red Faction Armageddon!

    • Urael says:

      Tch. Respect is earned, not given away freely because some suit says some nice words (see: ‘doubling down’). Let ‘em put their money where that mouth is first, then we’ll talk.

    • 7rigger says:

      After ditching GFWL (Although that was Relic really,) and saying this, they have got my respect too.

      Then again I’ve always been free and easy with my respect. One duff port or backtrack and BAM! – it’s gone.

    • edit says:

      On a side note and RE: Urael, the idea that respect must be earned is part of the reason 99% of people have no respect for 99% of people. It’s my philosophy to extend respect to all human beings.. (all life and the planet, for that matter) and only drop it if someone actively earns disrespect. Respect should be the default state, the starting point, lest we live in a world of assholes, which to a significant extent we do at the moment.

      Of course, someone can earn greater respect from me, but I’m a much much happier person since I’ve taken the approach of giving people the benefit of the doubt and treating everyone like I would an old friend unless they are actively, maliciously setting out to harm me or others. Even then treating someone with at least basic respect is by far the most effective starting point for conflict resolution, an idea people who are too addicted to indulging their emotions (so.. 90%+ of people, right?) seem completely closed off to.

    • Jumwa says:

      Well said on the issue of respect, Edit.

      The “respect is earned” philosophy is a recipe for disaster. Causes a lot of ill feelings and head buttings.

      Though in all fairness, when it comes to corporations we must realize in the current economic system, they generally see it as their duty to the shareholders to produce as much profit as possible, with no regard for anything else except in how it relates back to profit. So it’s not so much a matter of respect, I’d say, but in the exercising of sound reasoning and scepticism to wait until the fruits are shown.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Nice one Edit, totally concur!

    • Urael says:

      Good points, all. But let’s be clear. We’re talking about a business entity here. As Jumwa pointed out, business entities have different rules of behaviour from people, and should be approached differently. Lest anyone think people like me are ruining the world for everyone else, as was subtly implied, I have no problem giving basic respect to any individual human being. But I do still reserve the right to withhold greater levels of respect until I’m satisfied it is deserved which, happily, it usually is in most cases. This applies doubly for companies and businesses as it cannot be automatically assumed that they care about anything other than my bank account.

      Looking at Volition specifically, they’ve been churning out poor PC ports for a while now, a minor abuse of the relationship they have with PC gamers but we’ve still been treated poorly, meaning the onus is now on them to prove their good intentions. Assuming we’d started out giving them respect – and who wouldn’t have considering the Freespace games of yore – since that point they’ve been frittering it away with some quite poor decision making. So saying “They have my respect again” after some pretty words from one of their bosses is premature at best and plain foolishness at worst. It was a good statement. It should be applauded as such, but let’s not start worshipping at their feet until they’ve demonstrated that they mean what they say. There have been too many promises broken by well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) developers in recent years.

      Incidentally, this is what irritates me about the kind of worship and adoration that companies like Valve receive. It all too easily turns into rage when that company is perceived to have broken your trust in them; just look at the noise GoG had to put up with after their ill-advised prank, and then again when they elected to work to stop piracy. If you take them on the basis of a business entity you can avoid the over-emotional flip-flopping generated by misplaced worship/disappointment.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I see what you are saying Urae, and I was not thinking that you were specifically responsible for all the evil in the world. Just that your comment reminded me of an attitude that grates – not that you specifically do.
      I would still be inclined to lend most companies the benefit of the doubt on initial impressions – such as the statement above. That’s because whilst I recognise that a company will always want to make money, I know for a fact that there are a number of companies out there who do legitimately care about customers and will even choose the customer over a quick profit given the choice.
      Given that this does happen (GoG actually springs to mind here), then I am inclined to lend any company the benefit of the doubt when they express those sentiments and respect them when they do so. If they then proceed to unzip all over those stated aims/promises whatever, then they will lose respect from me. But ultimately a company is made up of individuals and are quite often run by individuals. And those individuals are just as deserving of respect as anyone else.

  5. Tokjos says:

    There are two ways of making a game people would want to pirate:
    1. Making it really good.
    2. Filling it with excessive DRM.

    It seems this guy has understood which of them makes the most money!

  6. MHaggag says:

    I wish they’d consider re-porting SR2 and Guerilla properly. The first is tremendous fun, and the second really needs proper dedicated-server-based multiplayer. The whole peer-to-peer thing was fun for a short while after release, but it never lasts.

  7. LegendaryTeeth says:

    You know what they should port? Free Space 3, from the nothing it’s currently available for right now. :(

  8. James G says:

    Been a few stories like this recently. Seems we might be climbing out the trough again, or rather the AAA developers might be* (of course, words are cheap). If we do see increasing mainstream focus on the PC platform again, I’m hoping that we wont see the Indies taking a hit.

    * To clarify, I don’t mean the Indie/Low-budget traditional developers remain in the trough, just that they’ve already climbed out of it/never fell in it.

    • DaftPunk says:

      Climbing back ? We never left,we are kings from the whole beginning.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      If indies are impacted, it’ll be because AAA studios are actually making stuff that PC gamers want to play again. Which is probably a good thing for everyone. Don’t worry, I still have $5 to spend on your indie RPG, just not while I’m playing Skyrim.

    • Wulf says:

      I’d far more happily put down $30 for one of the better Avernum games (I, II, III, or Blades) than I would for Skyrim, that’s for sure.

      No, then again, I’d never even consider Skyrim in the first place. They took out the race choices, even, to create a game about a Caucasian guy who runs around slaying things as part of an exceedingly average and yawn-inducing male power fantasy. No ta! Avernum for me!

    • Wizardry says:

      @Wulf: What you said. It’s clear that Spiderweb games are better CRPGs than Skyrim (or any other Bethesda game) will ever be. It’s just a case of what individuals want from gaming. Skyrim will always be the most attractive choice to those who prefer action games and pretty graphics, for instance.

      Independent CRPG developers will stay around, and a market will remain. Big budget “CRPGs” take too long to make, are too expensive, and take too long to play for there to be more than 10 per year. And given what has now become standard for high budget CRPGs (real-time combat and lack of direct party control), there will be plenty of “room” in the gaming market for traditional, independently created CRPGs.

    • Starky says:

      Bug budget cRPGs take too long to play for more than 2-3 per year for anyone but a hardcore cRPG fan with a LOT of free time.

      When I was a boy I had more gaming time than my very limited gaming budget could stretch too (thus I became a pirate), now as a man my gaming budget vastly exceeds my limited gaming time.
      So big games had better be brilliant, or easily consumed in 2-3 hour chunks over several months.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Re: Skyrim, I find that mindless optimism is a happier way to go through life. It’s a lovely day. Pretty clouds, trees, birds, etc.

      As long as we’re talking about Spiderweb, I have to say I’m looking forward to Avadon for iPad. It’s the kind of game I would love to relax with, read all the conversations properly, and really get into.

      There’s an almost-entirely-untapped market for deep games on the iPad. It’s packed with shallow puzzlers and action games, which are briefly amusing and perfect for the iPhone, but not fulfilling the potential of a 10″ tablet device.

      If I were making an indie RPG, I’d go iPad first and port to Android/PC/Mac second. The AAA studios are nowhere near monopolizing every market, and I doubt they ever will be.

    • Kaira- says:

      @Wulf

      Where do you get that “no races”-thing about Skyrim you say everywhere? Because what I’ve read it would seem that you are wrong.

    • Tuco says:

      @Starky: your words are so full of shit.

    • Starky says:

      That is an eloquent and logical rebuttal Tuco…
      Or alternatively, go fuck yourself mate.

    • Ryz says:

      @ Wulf

      Skyrim has race choices.

      It’s almost fascinating how completely and utterly uninformed you are for these little rants of yours.

    • malkav11 says:

      I suspect that the iPad market probably suffers from the same thing the iPhone/iTouch market does, which is that there are thousands, tens of thousands of competing apps with an average price somewhere in the $1 to $3 range, so attempting to charge anything resembling the $25-30 Spiderweb games traditionally go for is going to be tough. We’ll see what happens with Avadon iPad, though, I suppose.

    • Weylund The Second says:

      @TillEulenspiegel: That’s too bad, as I was planning on playing the mindless optimism card rather strongly. Gosh, I wish they’d stop making House and Mr. Bean movies and get back to making Blackadder.

      On topic, no, I don’t think indies will have problems as mainstream publishers realize they’ve been colossal idiots. Indies by necessity innovate and respond to the public’s desires. Big companies, also by necessity, rarely do. I think we’ll find that indies will continue to deliver fine games in ways that the public enjoys.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @Wulf
      JESUS CHRIST, Wulf would you stop pulling this “one race” thing out of your ass! It’s utter bullshit and several people have called you out on it with links to back it up. 10 races, 2 sexes. End of story.

      Average and yawn inducing? Wow, like you would possibly know. All we have is one trailer for god’s sake. And there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate that Skyrim is any more or less of a “power fantasy” than any other RPG, including Spiderweb’s.

      You are clearly either trolling us, in which case you should be banned, or you are hit and running these posts constantly without bothering to educate yourself in the slightest degree about this game which you have so ignorantly and childishly already condemned.

      I like some of your posts, man, but if your goal here is to piss people off with these unsubstantiated rants about Skyrim, you are succeeding.

    • godgoo says:

      @Tuco

      Why even bother visiting this site, there’s plenty of room on 4chan.

    • Urael says:

      lol@Grape. Agreed. It’s getting tiresome now. There’s none so blind as those who don’t want to see…

    • SanguineAngel says:

      @Grape & Wulf
      Yeh I do agree with Grape here. I mean I usually enjoy your posts, Wulf and often agree with your sentiment (sometimes not). But here, you are being particularly unwilling to accept actual fact.

      And you will find no one more dissappointed with Oblivion than myself but even I will not be judging Skyrim until I have seen it in action/played it and I remain very optimistic about the game having taken the time to educate myself on it and find out confrimed features and read/listen to what the devs have had to say.

      You’re an otherwise active and frequently valuable member of the community Wulf. Social diatribes and GW2 worship included. This is a little strange though

  9. Jakkar says:

    Saints Row 2 and RF:G ‘tremendously good’? Mr. Walker, you’ve earned my respect <3

  10. karthink says:

    Did anyone else give up on Red Faction: Guerilla because of performance issues? Mouselook was too lazy on any graphics setting; all the more frustrating because the game was promising to be fun.

    The new RF doesn’t look enticing, but this is good news anyway if other developers take notice.

    • Riotpoll says:

      Yes, the performance was inconsistent to say the least. Which is annoying as it should have run well on my hardware, same can be said for SR2 too.

    • Wulf says:

      Same here. I was having a lot of fun with RF:G (a rare combination when I and mainstream games are concerned) until the performance started bottoming out, quite randomly, for no apparent reason that I could discern. And no amount of option tinkering would fix it. Shame.

    • sebmojo says:

      RFG ran smooth as butter on my (decidedly average) rig with everything at max. Haven’t finished it though so maybe it’ll crap out later.

    • Thants says:

      The performance was ok for me but the vehicles were almost uncontrollable with the keyboard.

    • malkav11 says:

      What got Red Faction: Burly Ape performing well for me was running it windowed. No, I don’t know why that would work, usually it’s the other way around.

      I recall them saying it would be a better PC port than SR2 beforehand, too. And, to be fair, I guess it was, but only because the SR2 port was atrocious.

    • Urthman says:

      Are you running the game in a window or with the priority set to normal or lower? That gave me a huge performance boost.

      Have you tried running it with xliveless to turn off all the GFWL crap? That also gave me a performance boost at the cost of having to re-enter my keyboard config every time I play the game.

      Actually, I switched to xliveless because I got about a 1/4 through the game and suddenly the game refused to load any of my save games without crashing. I blamed GFWL and tried using xliveless, which works great except for the issue of not saving my config. Anyone else used xliveless with Red Faction Guerrilla found a way to fix that issue?

  11. ShawnClapper says:

    I’m glad to see they aren’t putting the PC ports in the hands of a porting studio. I’m always amazed at how companies try to advertise this as a good thing.

    “We have an entire separate studio dedicated to the pc port so you know it’s going to be good”

    or sometimes

    “We have an entire separate studio dedicated to the multilayer aspect so you know it’s going to be good”

    Actually they just hired some lackeys to whip up the port or multiplayer part quick without caring at all about the game in hand. Nice to see someone looking to remedy this practice.

  12. ScubaMonster says:

    Companies should always focus on their paying customers. People who are going to pirate it will pirate it no matter what sort of DRM you have, which has been proven time and time again. If you must use DRM, use something less invasive that people can tolerate such as Steam, etc. Anything more is just overkill and not going to stop much of anything. If you make games that aren’t garbage, people will be willing to pay for them.

  13. Delusibeta says:

    I actually didn’t have many problems with the singleplayer in Red Faction: Guerilla. Although, the fact that I bought it for two quid certainly helps.

  14. Dominic White says:

    Yeaaaaaah.. I was talking with the devs of RF:G in a livestream just a couple of weeks before release, and they said exactly this. ‘We’re more serious about the port this time, it won’t be broken, we promise!’.

    And then it came out. And it was broken. And the PC version didn’t get any of the (copious) DLC.

    Alright, Volition – ball is in your court. Prove you aren’t lying this time.

    • Spoon says:

      I bought RF:G in a steam sale, and it DID have that singleplayer DLC that has you playing Sam as a Raider. Dunno about the other two packs, as I didn’t mess with MP at all.

    • Dave L. says:

      What are you talking about? The PC version of RF: G shipped with all the DLC pre-installed.

      And the only broken thing I experienced was the 5.1 sound bug that they took forever to patch (though part of that was also them addressing the Windows 7 running too fast bug, because they used GfWL and couldn’t just issue a hotfix).

  15. MrMud says:

    Freespace 3…

  16. Jimbo says:

    Red Faction: Gorillas ran twice as fast as it was supposed to for me, like playing Theme Park on a Pentium 2. Terrible.

    I loved Saints Row 2 though… on 360.

  17. Paul says:

    I actually bought SR2 and RFG.

    SR2 remains unplayed to this day because it is pretty much the worst PC version since ever.
    RFG I finished after owning it for a year or so when patch came out that finally made it playable.

    Good to see they are making PC versions inhouse now. Hopefully he is truthful and they will be great.

  18. Om says:

    Good news, if it translates into deeds. I’m actually looking for to SR3 immensely. The last one seemed to tick all sorts of boxes that I didn’t know I had

  19. schnitzeljaeger says:

    Freespace 3! Now! :-)

  20. Acorino says:

    Good call! Better then the tendency of making games nobody would want to pirate, and publishers moaning about lack of sales then…

  21. bascule42 says:

    Piracy is the Demo of the 21st century.

  22. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Better start pimping my body out to medical trials if I am to afford a computer that can cope with the oncoming PC graphics juggernaut :(

    • Urael says:

      I wouldn’t worry, SuperNashwan. Most developers are so behind the PC hardware curve it’s going to take them a while to catch up again. I reckon if your rig can handle Crysis or Dead Space you’ll have no problem with releases for the next year or two.

  23. explosiveface says:

    How about you realease an update for Saint’s Row 2 then? I paid $3.75 for that during the Steam holiday sale, and I still felt ripped off. THQ made the external studio stop supporting the game after one small patch, even when major issues with memory prefetching, lag spikes and downright horrible controls were very apparent on their forums.

  24. Tuco says:

    Freespace 3.
    Make it happen, Volition.

  25. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Sounds like a very sensible fellow. My faith in the industry is being revived.

  26. bhlaab says:

    I don’t do [bad thing] ANYMORE *expects a medal*

  27. oceanclub says:

    I paid €20 for SR2 and felt very ripped off. €3 for RFG so not so much. If the latter had been a decent port, it would have been a great game, so I do hope they do a proper job with the PC version of the sequel.

  28. Goomich says:

    Also: Freespace 3.

  29. Navagon says:

    He’s talking the talk. But we kind of need more than that from the major players in the industry at this point. Indies are rapidly catching up.

    Needs moar Freespace 3 (and Homeworld 3, Relic!).

  30. Verb4tim says:

    Registered only to say this: Freespace 3 make it happen!

  31. Jetsetlemming says:

    Red Faction G was a really good PC game. I know it has issues on Vista/7 (or was it any 64 bit?) but I’m on XP-32 and so the game was flawless for me.

  32. Wedge says:

    I got lucky and had minimal problems with RF3 anyways, at least, as long as I didn’t try to play the multiplayer. Aside from the mouse aim being totally fucked on a turret, and that was somewhat alleviated by using the input sensitivity changy button on my mouse.

    Also I fucking loved that game, and subsequently have zero interest in this dumb sequel they’re bringing out =/. Maybe if they put that destruction tech into SR3?

  33. Jason Moyer says:

    Freespace 3 or the wedding’s off.

  34. hocevar says:

    Finally someone said what EVERYFUCKING GAMER IN THE EARTH THINKS.

    FIRST, do a fucking GOOD product THEN think about protecting it YOU DICKS

    I think I’m in love with him…

  35. skalpadda says:

    I realise it’s a bit of market-speak, but shouldn’t they be trying to make a game that people would want to pay for?

  36. Pointless Puppies says:

    I suppose that means no horrible GFWL as well? Methinks yes.

    As PC fans we’ve pretty much grown accustomed to seducing “we’ll do good this time!” promises from devs and publishers alike for a lot of years already. I dunno about the rest of you guys, but these promises fall on deaf ears. At this point all I care about is the action, not the Nth promise than they’ll finally get their shit together after they didn’t give a crap all the other N-1 times.

  37. MultiVaC says:

    Freespace 3.

  38. Njordsk says:

    Well, good port or not I always find your game bad anyway.

    Guerilla was abysmal and SR … hate it.

    RF 1 and freespace are the last games I loved from volition.

  39. Mister_Inveigler says:

    A man after my own heart…

    I have both the 360 and the PS3, yet I only seem to use them for streaming my TV shows from my PC. All my gaming has been on my PC at the moment, very peculiar. Only problem with my PC gaming is keeping it comfortable for long stretches. Back and wrist start hurting after too long (no longer a young teenager anymore!)

  40. Elusiv3Pastry says:

    Stop mucking about with consoles and give us Freespace 3, goddammit!

  41. terry says:

    I agree.

  42. RegisteredUser says:

    Now if only they understood that “developing for the pc” did not mean better graphics, but smarter, more complex gameplay, maybe THEN we’d get back to awesome games.