Gearbox Confuse Me

So here’s a thing, and it’s honestly got me confused. Gearbox’s Steve Gibson has been talking to the London Games Festival blog about the various Gearbox projects (but mainly about Duke), and when talking about Steam he says…

[R]ight 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.

Right now we’re like “Please, work together” Our big concern right now is that these silos are being built. 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. Things like that are hurting the PC industry for gamers.

Eh? That… what.


  1. John Peat says:

    He wasn’t from Gearbox – he was a taxi driver from Nigeria and they interviewed him by accident?

  2. qrter says:

    But.. if a game on Steam has GFWL integrated, you can still do the whole GFWL dance if you want to.

    So I’m guessing I’m firmly in the “Eh?” camp too.

  3. Rick says:

    Gearbox talking about GFWL. I’m scared simply on the basis I don’t want any Gearbox game to use GFWL.

    • bob_d says:

      They do.. that’s exactly why I didn’t play multiplayer Borderlands, didn’t want to deal with GFWL.

    • bob_d says:

      Or am I getting two different games confused whose multiplayer functionality I couldn’t be arsed to set up?

    • gryffinp says:

      Borderlands used Gamespy for it’s multiplayer, which, for all of it’s flaws, is not GFWL

    • bob_d says:

      I must be thinking of Arkham Asylum, which forced GFWL on me even for single player…

    • Cael says:

      Yeah, it’s even worse than GFWL

    • Cael says:

      Yeah, gamespy is even worse than GFWL lol

  4. Lewie Procter says:

    The real question is why they hell would anyone want to use GFWL unless they were in Microsoft’s pocket, or being moneyhatted by them.

    • ran93r says:

      +1 for using the term moneyhat

    • Sagan says:

      Well the alternatives are using Steamworks, which makes you a Steam exclusive, or Stardock’s thing, the name of which I have forgotten, which has the disadvantage of being unproven.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      Steamworks doesn’t make you exclusive to Steam. Plenty of Steamworks games are sold via retail, or alternative DD outlets.

      In fact, you are allowed to use Steamworks and still not sell your game via Steam. There was an NBA game (NBA09 maybe?) that used Steamworks DRM (and possibly for multiplayer) but is not available to buy via Steam.

    • Sagan says:

      I think that changed with Modern Warfare 2. When Modern Warfare 2 used Steamworks, other digital distribution websites protested and refused to sell it. Direct 2 Drive has not upheld that, but you can still not buy Modern Warfare 2 on Impulse and Gamersgate.

      So yeah, sure in theory a Steamworks game is not Steam exclusive, but it might just happen that other digital distribution channels will refuse to sell your game. And if that amounts to a couple thousand copies of lost sales, then good luck justifying Steamworks. A couple thousand lost sales may not sound like much, but all you need is 20.000 and you have got one million in lost sales volume.

    • subedii says:

      That’s still THEIR issue though.

      I mean you don’t see Stardock games up on Steam either. Whether that’s down to Valve or to Stardock is irrelevant, there’s little doubt that if they were on Steam, they’d sell more.

      The “justification” for using Steamworks is that it provides a huge number of features that other services don’t. In real terms the other companies don’t make up the majority of sales. The bigger question is which loses you more sales, not being available on Gamersgate, or not having a good multiplayer system (and also, getting subsequently panned in the reviews for it)? If we’re honest, it’s usually the latter.

      To pick another example, Batman: Arkham Asylum is intrinsically tied to GFWL. It’s available for sale on the GFWL store. It installs GFWL when it installs. And the only way to get DLC for it is from Microsoft using MS Points (all helpfully sold via the in-game Marketplace feature alongside other fine GFWL products). About as close a parallel to a singleplayer Steamworks title as you can get.

      None of this however stops a publisher like Gamersgate from selling Arkham Asylum as well, they happily do. So is this an issue of not being happy with selling competing marketplace services, or just an issue with selling games using Steam specifically because it’s the biggest one?

  5. TotalBiscuit says:

    The problem with this scenario is that somebody from Gearbox is talking, which rarely ends well.

    • subedii says:

      Well Randy Pitchford has been pretty adamant in the past about how much he dislikes Steam to begin with.

      I thought it was pretty funny when he went on a rant about how Steam is terrible to indie devs, and then a whole load of blog posts went up from various indie devs in support of how well they were treated.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah. How can a massive developer possibly comment on what Steam is like to indie devs? I think they are just jealous, they previously worked with Valve. But they will never, ever make anything anywhere near as good as even Valve’s worst games.

      But seriously, what is their problem with Valve exactly?

    • Jakkar says:

      @DrGonzo – in terms of detailed level design, exciting scripted scenes (what else is halflife but exploring a sequence of scripted explosions and scientist-deaths, after all?), creative new weapons and tools, great music and fun boss fights, Half Life: Opposing Force was actually my favourite HL all the way until Episode 2.

      I don’t think jealousy counts. Even accounting for varying opinions, Opposing Force wasn’t ‘awful’ by any stretch.

      Why they -are- being a bit asshole over Steam, though, I don’t know..

  6. Scott Kevill says:

    Yeah, sounds like he means Steamworks versus Games for Windows Live versus other options.

    • Baboonanza says:

      But the idiocy is that he’s completely confused the method you use to buy the games with the method of multiplayer (Steamworks, GFWL, other) implemented by the game. He’s saying that if you buy a game from Steam it will have SteamWorks, if you buy it from a shop it won’t. Which is incredibly ignorant.

      It’s an easy mistake to make and I wouldn’t expect my mum to know the difference, but he isn’t my mum. For someone in the inductsry trying to sound knowledgable and saying ‘that’s a problem’ it’s pretty inexcusable.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      He had the right idea. It just wasn’t articulated very well.

    • y3k-bug says:

      How do you mean “you agree with his sentiment?”

      What he just said literally makes no sense.

    • qrter says:

      I bet he is, in fact, Baboonanza’s mum.

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      I’m not sure about silo either. I think it’s a CNN thing, actually, that’s where I first heard it. I don’t agree with using it as a negative term.

      Silos are good. They tend to contain things that desperately need containing, like missiles and grain. Imagine if you had your missiles mixed in with your grain in a great heap. Then nobody would be happy.

    • Jakkar says:

      I thought wholegrain was supposed to be better for you?

  7. Nicomallo says:

    Maybe he means single player games? And is from the moon?

  8. The Kins says:

    He clarified a little on NeoGAF (link to – he means he wants things like unified friends lists.

    • Cooper says:

      Does anyone use GfWL firends list? And isn’t a lack of unification one of the boons of PC gaming – not having Live or whatever forced down our throats? I’m not sure his ‘clarifications’ help him much…

    • Optimaximal says:

      Either he was horribly misquoted in the original article(s) or he’s just furiously backpedalling.

      It’s akin to Pitchford’s anti-Steam tirade when Borderlands was approaching, which was just smoke & mirrors to disguise the shortcomings in the PC ‘port’.

    • Jacques says:

      He really should go through a PR person before posting on a forum. He’s just made himself look utterly clueless there.

    • Zyrxil says:

      But he IS a PR person! He’s the head of marketing!

      Actually, you know, that explains a lot.

    • Jacques says:

      There are good PR people, and bad PR people. Clearly, he’s the latter kind of person.

      Gearbox should really go employ someone who knows what they’re doing.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      Like Valve. ;)

  9. PanicProne says:


    For example, I bought AvP (2010 game) in a retail store, installed it on my computer, associated the game with Steam, and I can play it online, with steam friends.

  10. JuJuCam says:

    Well that explains Gamespy for Borderlands…

    • 7rigger says:

      In that I bought a 4 pack of Borderlands on steam for my friends and I, and thanks to gamespy wasn’t able to play it with anyone?

      Certainly solved the problem I suppose, gordian knot style.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Thanks to gameranger and Scott Kevil (who posted above, bless his wee heart), I was able to play Borderlands online. Annoying that they decided to use Gamespy, though.

  11. Aaiiee says:

    “Steve Gibson, Head of Marketing at Gearbox”

    Marketing guy in “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” shocker?

  12. Berm says:

    I… wait, what?

  13. arqueturus says:

    Considering that Borderlands *really* could have benefitted from a decent online connectivity setup as it was a great big fiasco I found this guy’s spiel pretty ironic. For lots of players it was a fucking nightmare to get working online. I used Gameranger as it seemed the most elegant solution but I really wished it used Steam.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      At least the netcode is working pretty well now. As soon as you manage to get a friend in the borderlands thing, you can play together pretty easily.

  14. mandrill says:

    He seems to be saying that Gearbox are too lazy to write their own multiplayer/social code and want someone else to do that for them, and then he’s complaining that unless they integrate with all the available services and the player has them all installed and running (Steam, GFWL etc.) they’re resticted in who they can play alongside/against.

    The simple solution is for gearbox to go around the various services and write their own multiplayer/matchmaking/social code into their games. Then it doesn’t matter how each player got their game, they can all play together.

    There’s no point using middleware tools such as GFWL and Steamworks if they restrict how players can play your games and who they can play them with. Its a realisatioin that has been a while coming and I’m suprised it took this long tbh.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      Oh just pick one service and use it in all version of the game.

      Like what both Steamworks and GFWL support.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Or to use a neutral solution such as GameRanger, that solved all the multiplayer problems with Borderlands.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Sadly, gameranger did bugger all for me with borderlands :( it wasn’t until the most recent patch that I can actually play with anyone not physically in the same room as me.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Sorry to hear that, Tom.

      While it did work for almost everyone, there was a limit to how much could be done without the developer officially supporting GameRanger (ie. using the SDK).

    • subedii says:

      It’s not really fair to say that a dev’s being “lazy” (I think that term gets thrown around FAR too much when it comes to any aspect of game development) when they aren’t making their own multiplayer back end / community system. Making a system like that is a huge process in itself, and there’s a reason that companies prefer to go with existing solutions.

      link to

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Cynical, but it’s also in Blizzard’s interest to say “trust us, it’s really hard, don’t try it!” when they’ve stated their intentions to license to other game publishers.

    • subedii says:

      They don’t need to say “trust us”, other devs have tried and literally found the same thing. Game development companies aren’t so irrational that they’d simply go with a 3rd party solution without first analysing whether it would be feasible to do it themselves first. Something on the level of Battlenet is enormously complex in itself. But even smaller scale community systems require a lot of resources to put together and run.

      Even high tier devs like EA can’t seem to pin down making a really solid community system for their games. This isn’t a simple process, which is why more and more devs often opt for 3rd parties. And whoever has the best client is going to get the most people using it. It makes sense for Blizzard to eventually pitch BNet to 3rd parties specifically because of how resource intensive it is to create a system like that. It took years of solid development to make it what it is now.

  15. Butler` says:

    He’s just highlighting that segregating the PC platform in this way may not be in consumers’ interest.

    There’s an echo of truth to it, of course, he just didn’t put himself across terribly well.

  16. Tony M says:

    People who use GFWL have friends?

  17. Scott Kevill says:

    This has already begun to happen with other games: a Steamworks version of the game that is sold on Steam, and a different version of the game that is sold on other sites. As a result, people with one version cannot do multiplayer against people with the other version.

    This is a bad thing.

    • Starky says:

      Has it? If it has I must have missed it, along with everyone else I think…

      So please enlighten us, name ONE game that is sold as a steamworks game on steam but isn’t in retail?

    • Starky says:

      Retail or “other sites” as you say.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Lionheart: King’s Crusade is the most recent.

      Remember that Steamworks means the Steam store is bundled with the game, which makes other download stores reluctant to carry the title.

    • CreepingDeath says:

      Er… no, you’re wrong there.

      Take Borderlands for example. I bought it retail, my friend bought it on Steam. We’ve been able to play together since release day no problem.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Somebody missed the point…

    • Archonsod says:

      Or in the case of King Arthur, only the Steam version has multiplayer.

    • frymaster says:

      “Lionheart: King’s Crusade is the most recent.”

      I’ve just been on their site, and according to their forums, multiplayer doesn’t even exist yet (planned for an upcoming patch) – you got a source for the “steam users won’t be able to play with non-steam users” claim?

  18. John Peat says:

    Oh – I missed the ‘marketting’ bit.

    Marketting is a euphemism for “clueless dipshit” – any actual understanding of things automatically excludes you from that entire discipline.

    Panic over – move along…

  19. Tom OBedlam says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he started babbling about Christian Laboutin shoes now…..

  20. itsallcrap says:

    Don’t know about multiplayer, the two do sort of work together. I bought Fallout 3 on Steam, which then installed GfWL, which I then used to install Broken Steel.

    Nobody died.

    Silos, though? Surely nuclear war is a bit much just to gain digital distribution market share…

  21. Commissar says:

    Aww isn’t that cute? Another primarily console developer talking about shit they don’t understand.

  22. malkav11 says:

    Still confused. Not only are Steamworks and GFWL entirely compatible, as games like Dawn of War II show, but I’ve never encountered a game where some PC versions used one multiplayer scheme and some another.

    • Archonsod says:

      That’s the point. If you use Steam then you’re excluding everyone who doesn’t use Steam. If you use GFWL, you exclude everyone without GFWL. If you use ImpulseReactor, you exclude everyone without Impulse and so forth.

      What he’s asking for is for is an open standard so you get the same features in terms of multiplayer and connectivity irrespective of which client you yourself happen to be using; i.e. you stick with the Steam client, but you can see, connect to and add people running the Impulse/GFWL/Paradox/whatever client.

    • Cynic says:

      Actually the point is that you think the same thing as Mr. Gibson does, and you’re wrong. There are games that come with both GfWL and Steam. I own at least one (Fallout 3) and people complain about at least a few more that do because of the redundancy of DRM upon DRM it causes.

    • Archonsod says:

      Um no, I know GFWL can work alongside Steam. Thing is though, not everyone who uses Steam wants GFWL, and amazingly enough some people like GFWL and not Steam. His point is that it shouldn’t be the games developer who is having to take on the burden of coding multiplayer so that Steam will talk to GFWL/Battlenet/Impulse/Paradox/Whatever, it should be the owners of those services.

      Taken to it’s logical conclusion then either one of two things are going to happen. You either invest inordinate amount of resources into coding your multiplayer so that each and every service you want to include is capable of talking to each other, or else accept dividing your multiplayer community and possible market by supporting some services and not others.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      But developers aren’t dividing their player base, the worst they may be doing is slightly reducing their potential customer base by selecting a multiplayer system that some people don’t like / refuse to install. And when it comes down to it, how many people _really_ stick to their guns and refuse to buy a game they otherwise want because it has say GFWL? Yes I know there’s some, but frankly in my experience they are a minuscule percentage.

      Besides, there’s no commercial benefit to having all these services effectively integrate with each other. The idea is to build customer loyalty to your service, not make it irrelevant who they are with. Valve understands this, hence the development they’ve done with Steam, Steamworks and flow on benefits to them of integrating the Steam store and offering frequent worthwhile sales. More power to them, I’m reaping the rewards with access to great games at great prices and a huge group of friends both old and new to play and chat with.

    • malkav11 says:

      Again, I’ve never encountered a game where more than one multiplayer scheme was used on the same platform. It doesn’t matter if people can’t connect to Steamworks multi with GFWL, because everyone who wants to play your game multiplayer is using Steamworks – that’s how the game’s built. So you are in no way dividing your multiplayer market. It’s a nonsensical statement.

  23. Centy says:

    This is the exact kind of console orientated idiocy I now expect from Gearbox. Their ignorance of how the PC space actually works is a far cry from how they started off. I really hope that in some way this guy is new or was mis-quoted because this is just pants on head retarded.

  24. Durkonkell says:

    Sooooo…. Don’t release a Steamworks version, a GFWL version (actually don’t do that ever) and a separate retail version with your own matchmaking system. Just release one version, then no matter where you buy it from everyone can play together!

    Problem solved. I am a genius. Gearbox, I shall anticipate your offer of employment momentarily.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Yes, that is what needs to happen. There’s a dangerous trend toward Steam becoming a complete monopoly, and Steamworks is part of their lock-in strategy. It’s tempting for publishers because it’s “free”.

    • subedii says:

      It’s a temptation for developers because it works. The only real competition for community features at the moment is GFWL, and Microsoft have neglected it pretty badly.

      To be honest, I’d find it far more dangerous if the industry was trending towards GFWL. And that’s not saying competition is a bad thing either, but Microsoft is in a key position to be THE big competitor to Steam, and they’ve pretty much stuck to half-heated attempts in between re-affirming their “commitment” to the PC as a games platform.

    • subedii says:

      Making half-hearted attempts, I should say.

    • Durkonkell says:

      For the record, the main thing I was poking fun at there was the idea that a developer would release separate and incompatible versions of a game on different services. This is utter screaming idiocy.

      While I’m here, here’s how I feel about the three different services I mentioned:
      If a game I want is released with Steamworks, I will buy it.
      If a game I want is released with a developer’s own networking system / another third-party system that works (and doesn’t do something horrific like kick me off when my ‘net connection drops out) I will buy it.
      If a game I want is released via GFWL I will not buy it. GFWL is a deal breaker.

      Steamworks doesn’t have a monopoly, but it is probably the dominant system. Why? Because it basically works and doesn’t piss me off too much. For any real competition to happen, the opposition has to have a product with basically works and doesn’t piss me off.

    • Bob Bobson says:

      Clearly you mean half-arsed.

    • Durkonkell says:

      I like “half-heated” actually. Makes me think of a lukewarm cup of soup from some cheap roadside cafe.

      “I put as much effort into making that soup hot and delicious for you as Microsoft did putting together GFWL!”
      “… This tastes like it’s a week old.”
      “Yes. But I heated it up for you. A bit.”

    • Scott Kevill says:

      subedii, GFWL is not the only alternative to Steamworks. While Microsoft does have the potential to become a competitor to Valve, they’ve certainly shown no real interest in doing so thus far. It’s not really in their interest for PC gaming to do well, as it would negatively effect their console where they have a 100% monopoly and control.

      Durkonkell, the problem with using Steamworks for multiplayer is that it means the Steam store is being bundled with the game. This means for these titles, other download stores have a choice of a) selling the title and having Steam “infiltrate” their customer base, or b) not sell the title at all and hope that publishers will see the risk of being tied to a single store. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Either way, Steam moves closer to becoming a 100% monopoly. With retail drying up as well, they won’t need to be so nice when you have no other choice.

    • subedii says:

      I said it’s the only real competitor. I know there are other systems out there like Gamespy and Impulse, but frankly they don’t have nearly the featureset or the market penetration. MS is the company with the best real shot at providing serious competition to Valve.

      I’d say it’s also a false-dichotomy to say that developing GFWL negatively affects console sales, it doesn’t really work in such a simple manner. Valve don’t seem to view it as hampering their Steam sales when they release titles on multiple platforms. Logically they should simply shut down all multiplatform development if that’s the case, since they make vastly higher profit margins (and have much better marketing control) on their PC release titles.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Indeed the idea of anyone – even a service I get along well with – obtaining a 100% monopoly is undesirable for the reasons you specify. I meant what I said though, Steamworks works. If Steam’s competitors want to vie for a slice of the pie, they will have to produce an implementation that works as well.

      I’ll not be satisfied using an inferior product because I’m concerned about Valve’s market share. Besides, I think it’s terribly unlikely that Valve will eventually conquer the entire PC Games market. The jump from ‘dominant’ to ‘controlling the entire market’ is pretty vast.

    • wazups2x says:

      @Scott Kevill

      Steam will not become a corrupt monopoly.

      You could say both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network are monopolies. They can charge or do whatever they like with their online services. Sure, both Xbox Live and PSN are competing against each other but they are still closed platforms, which means a lot less competition.

      The PC is an open platform, this adds much more competition. Not only do you need to compete with Xbox Live and PSN but you also have to compete with all of the other services on the PC.

      Steam will never become a corrupt monopoly. If they gain most of the market it’s because they are doing what the consumer wants. If Steams decides to do something that people hate they can immediately start using another service.

      Look at GFWL, they tried charging you for it’s features but Steam and other DD services did it better and for free. Now GFWL is the least used service on the PC.

      This one of the many reasons why PC gaming is so great.

  25. yxxxx says:

    He should take a look at things like raptr then.

  26. Ben0207 says:

    The main reason I don’t play AVP 2010 cross platform with my friends is because I want to keep them.

  27. HeroJez says:

    As much as I hate monopolies, Steam is perfect… I’ve got past the days of wanting to buy a boxed copy because it’s tangible and goes on my shelf, to loving Steam for how quick, well designed and massive the library is.

    It’s a shame there are a few omissions – like telling people what the non-Steam game is (surely that’s possible?!) and libraries from a few big guns… but otherwise I love it. GFWL didn’t even exist as far as I was concerned..

    I appreciate Gearbox’s idea. There definitely needs to be some unity on the PC scene… I just think STEAM is it.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Steam is far from perfect, let’s not make such dangerous claims.

    • TheLordHimself says:

      Steam does support displaying the name of non-Stream games… In fact, if you rename Notepad.exe (or whatever) to Half-Life 3 or something, it will appear to your friends as though you are playing that game, even if it doesn’t exist.

    • Eclipse says:

      I love steam and I have hundreds of titles, but the 1 eur = 1 dollar thing is just stupid and makes it FAR from being perfect

    • Alex says:

      Connecting to steam account…
      Preparing to launch…
      Game is executed

      If you’re aiming for perfection, there’s 2 out of 3 steps that can be dropped right there…

      Not to even get started with what happens when step 1 never completes because the Steam servers are inaccessbile due to network difficulties, or a popular game/update having just been released.

      For perfection, I’d also require that the games aren’t more expensive than I can buy them boxed off amazon or play or similar. Sure, they do great sales, but if it’s not in a sale, it’s not worth buying.

      But at least it isn’t GFWL.

  28. blargh says:

    Hu.. Wha… Eh? 0_o

    Note: This is not me having a stroke. This is me being confuzzled.

  29. frags says:

    There is some truth to what he says. It is irrelevant to Steamworks games but a lot of games that have multiple distribution channels often run on very different patches. Meaning you probably couldn’y play multiplayer with those who bought it from say Impulse or GamersGate.

    For instance Men of War(might not be the most popular game out there) where the patching is a mess. Different retailers have different versions.

    • blargh says:

      I do believe every other service aside from Steam (and maybe Impulse) allows you to manually patch your game to the latest version. Unless I’m horribly mistaken here.

    • subedii says:

      I’m pretty certain GFWL forces patching on you. I don’t remember being asked to update GFWL when I installed Gears of War or Arkham Asylum, it just said it had to.

    • blargh says:

      Yes, but you can also choose to manually download and install the patch from any website. Which is what I did for Batman AA. You don’t have that option with Steam if they did not supply the patch already, or somehow the patch wouldn’t download and install correctly (which is what happened to me with BAA).

    • subedii says:

      Sorry, I thought you were talking about the fact that some services force you to patch and don’t allow you to play until it’s complete.

      However, if you’re saying that all the other services allow you to manually download patches from elsewhere, I’m pretty certain that’s not the case. Depending on the mechanism used, Gamersgate doesn’t, neither does D2D. I’m pretty certain the EA store also needs a different patch compared to “store bought” versions of their games as well. It’s all down to how the DRM is implemented.

      On that note, if you get patch corruption on a Steam game, then you can simply verify the game cache and it’ll download replacement files for what’s broken. Usually a quick process.

    • blargh says:

      I was under the (apparently wrong) impression that GG and D2D used the same DRM for their games as their retail counterparts (aside from the DVD in the drive thing, obviously). I don’t see why manual patching wouldn’t be allowed when the exe for those versions doesn’t really need to be modified for a special launcher or application as with Steam.

      I have never actually used those services myself yet, but since they were clientless, I thought it was safe to assume that they get the same retail box treatment with patching and stuff. No reason not to. I’ve only ever used Steam, Impulse, GOG and GFWL, and out of those only Steam did not allow me to patch manually. I did not try with Impulse, but I assume it would have similar limitations to Steam in this regard.

    • subedii says:

      Client (or not) doesn’t affect the DRM, which is the problem. Games from each of those distributors have to check in “back home” when they’re installed. If you have a store bought title that say, just verifies with EA, or doesn’t verify with anyone. Now the patch on the websites is for the store-bought version, but D2D needs a different patch that ensures the game still checks in back home with D2D.

  30. thebigJ_A says:

    Dude, that’s not clarification, that’s just pretending you said something else, and that everyone misunderstood you.

    He was NOT talking about friends lists in that quote. I don’t get it. Why doesn’t he just say “I mispoke”? Arguing with people in a forum, who obviously know the quote, and predictably quote it to refute your excuse… it just makes him look worse.

    • blargh says:

      What?! And admit to being wrong?!! Pffffftt…

      We’d think he was just a human if he did that!

  31. thebigJ_A says:

    Um, that was supposed to be a reply to The Kins. I DEFINITELY hit the reply button.

    While I’m here, I love you guys, but you need a new captcha. That thing sucks.

    • blargh says:

      Here’s the guide to having a successful reply if your cookies are cleared:

      1) Post a regular message.
      2) Replies suddenly start working as they should.
      3) ???
      4) I think I’m doing this whole numbered steps thing wrong.
      5) Oh, who cares! It’s a stupid meme, anyway…
      6) Profitses!!!

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Awesome. Now fix the captcha. Thanks, you’re the best!

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Captcha fixed … It’s called logging in.

  32. Annihilingus says:

    Gibson is this right c*nt that claims if you have more than one weapon when standing in front of a boss, you will panic due to your brain being overchallenged.

    His view of gamers as retarded “Press X to win” buttmonkeys is what is going to make DNF an epic douchefest.

    Turns out what the rest of the world calls challenge, exploration and freedom of choice really is in marketing douchebagspeak a “Blocker”. Having variety? Bad. Choice? Bad. Locking down your freedoms and making games interactive conveyor belts with cutscenes? Apparently what is now considered good.

    Ultrafail awarded to Douchbag Johnson, aka SG.

    Quoth he:
    “But when you design the game so players have other things put in front of them, they’ll actually see “Hey, I have these two or three weapons instead of nine” and they’ll get less frustrated because “Hey, the designers designed it so I’m getting this particular weapon.” The experience is quicker; it’s more about the gamers not getting to ‘blockers’.”

    Quoted from link to

    • Lukasz says:

      did he work on Opposing force?

      cause that game had buttload of weapons and each useful in different kind of way.

  33. Langman says:

    Yeah, this is no big deal coming from a marketing guy.

    I’d be more concerned if came from someone actually involved with game development. As it is, it’s no different to hearing the same statement from Peter Stringfellow; pointless and of no consequence.

    • adonf says:

      Actually marketing people are usually the ones who make the final decision as to what goes into the game and what doesn’t. It’s not just PR that comes after development, they are also responsible for focus groups that dumb down games, and stupid features that are supposed to get better marks in reviews, and using service A over service B regardless of their qualities or ease of integration into the game code. And of course they kill cute puppies. This guy is probably very powerful inside Gearbox and should be feared, especially if you’re a puppy.

  34. Araxiel says:


    What if I buy Dawn of War II on steam? Obviously it uses Steam and it also uses ‘Crap for Windows Live’, so I’m not able to…whaaat? I don’t get it…

    • Araxiel says:

      Is he refering to that PC players e.g. Steam are not able to play online with Suxxbox360 users that have to use GfWL? Because that’s obvious to me and…I still don’t really understand if he is aware of what he is talking about.

      He could be daydreaming…

    • Araxiel says:

      Is this about friendlists? Because I don’t give a shite about any other frindlist than the one from Steam. I always use Steam and most games I play are already in my Steam library under the ‘non-steam’ games. Thus I have my Steam overlay and my Stea friendslist in Steam and non Steam games. And if somebody from my Steam friendslist wants to play a Non-Steam game then I just give him the IP of the server I’m on. Yes, the new retarded matchmaking services they seem to use more and more in PC-Games is incredible crap. But if this is the case he just tells me his GfWL name and I add him to this stupid non-Steam friendslist and then we play. I really don’t see the problem.

      Console developers are stoopid

  35. cpt. truth says:

    i just want GFWL to die. Fast and painless.

    • Chris D says:

      I’d settle for fast.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Speaking of which, its almost 4 am. Isn’t time for Microsoft to do their daily “We’re *totally* committed to advancing PC gaming! Oh and by the way we bought another half-dozen or so of your most beloved studios, and all their highly anticipated titles are now going to be XBox exclusives from now on. Buh-bye!” dance?

  36. Eclipse says:

    the proof that the usual PR man don’t even know a shit about games…

  37. internisus says:

    The irony of this (misinformed) message coming from the company that brought Borderlands to the PC with the lingering UI of a console game and the broken multiplayer services of Gamespy is giving me an awful headache.

  38. defregga says:

    Oooohhh, so THAT is why they used GameSpy, the worst of the bunch, for Borderlands and showed thousands of gamers why not to throw their money in Gearbox’ direction in the future.

    Guy is an idiot, which doesn’t surprise me, seeing that he works at Gearbox. They can demonize Steam all they want, until they release a multiplayer-focused game that actually work in… you know… multiplayer mode, their views regarding everything online multiplayer are pretty much useless.

  39. MrTambourineMan says:

    This guy obviously knows nothing about PC gaming, go back to your Xbox. Ignorantia non est argumentum.

  40. rocketman71 says:

    Gibson must have slacked off after selling Shacknews. He makes zero sense.

  41. Tom says:

    If Duke doesn’t have multiplayer OR if Duke only comes with GFWL… I’m not buying it.
    Pretty much the only way I’m willing to buy it is through Steam.

  42. Goomich says:

    I have simple solution to this whole “Steam and GfWL friend list are not compatible”.

    Release game on Steamworks. That way, everyone with game will also have Steam. :P
    Then everyone could add all 2 their GfWL friends, to their Steam friend list, uninstall GfWL so it would stop hurting PC gaming.

  43. Bruce Rambo says:

    Frags and Mandril have interesting subthreads of comments. My penny’s worth of thought follows.

    There is at least one of two possible issues at play here:

    The first is that someone in network coding is very bad at their job (we already know this; port issues and gamespy? client settings alterable by the server? etc) but very good at playing with the management and being heard, with the net result that the more iconic members of the company make statements they are told are true but are actually false. Not entirely disimilar to the media disseminating scientific findings, except with actual bad science rather than easily misconstrued speculation.

    The second is that they are indeed trying to hamfistedly complain about closed systems which, if they commit to, they have no control over. The concept is that you “MUST” use steam or GFWL or equivalent for matchmaking, etc, and those options are bundled with a lot of issues, such as requiring a client program. A neutral platform would in theory sidestep this because every other developer or publisher would jump on the one who tried to propose changes.

    The interesting thing is that this is part of what the original mission statement for GFWL was trying to achieve. Windows games were to have a uniform system for accounts, matchmaking etc. However, this obviously did not work due to poor implementation, being a closed system and millions of other reasons I’m sure some of the experts in the crowd can expand upon. Having a uniform, open protocol that developers can build on and help direct would be nice but who would pay to host it? How would you ensure everyone actually did use it? Oddly enough, gamespy is one of the closest approximations to this when it comes to largescale commercial solutions. (Would anyone care to comment on RAKnet? All I know about that is that unity uses it)

    On a related note, I am sick and tired of having to make a new account for everything I do. Battlenet, rockstar social club, ubi uplay, steam, GFWL, impulse, d2d, ea, bioware, gamespy (which has master accounts and then unique accounts for almost every game you own), etc. And those are just the entertainment accounts, I also have to manage online banking, bill payment, utilities reports, etc. If more games used a uniform underlying system, I’d have fewer password sheets stored in the minivault on my desk. Half the sites on the web seem to accept facebook logins instead of their own these days, perhaps something similar could be done…

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Their unfortunate choice of GameSpy for Borderlands probably came from a desire for a neutral solution.

      Another multiplayer matchmaking solution not tied to any store is GameRanger (obvious disclosure: I’m the developer), which is in fact what enabled many people to play Borderlands multiplayer during the first six months or so. It’s also what saved Demigod with the spectacular fail of Impulse + Raknet.

  44. Forscythe says:

    Frankly I don’t understand all the contempt for this guy. It may have been poorly phrased, but his basic point is rock solid – the digital distributors are increasingly tying their first-party, incompatible multiplayer/social networks to their stores. If the trend continues, this will hurt players in plenty of ways:

    – It will limit the choice of stores you can buy each game from, which will limit competition and your ability to build your library on the store of your choice

    – it will run some distributors out of business – already many of us would pay significantly more for the same game on Steam over Impulse or D2D because it will be tied into our steam friends list and achievements. Again, this will result in paying higher prices for games.

    – it sucks as a gamer to have to have separate accounts, friends lists, achievements, server browsers, etc for Steam, GFWL,, EA, Impulse, Rockstar, Gamespy, …

    Steam is actually the worst offender here because you cannot use Steamworks without actually delivering the Steam store to your players, causing sellers like D2D to have to choose to die by not selling the new games they need to survive, or die by selling their competitor’s store. GFWL games sold on steam do not come with the GFWL store, only the multiplayer stack.

    Gibson’s solution is also the correct one – an interoperability system between the stores, such as we have had with IM applications for years, so that achievements = achievements = achievements, friends = friends = friends, no matter which network you use. It isn’t an insurmountable technical challenge. We should ask for it, instead of saying “steam rulez all games should just use steam for everything,” which throws away a lot about what makes PC special.

    • cliffski says:

      I agree. I think what he was getting at is that the whole ‘proproetary client’ thing that publishers are keen on isn’t the ebst long term solution for gamers.
      This is why I sell people links to use their browser to downlaod an exe file to install the game. They dont need a positech client or posi-downloader, or have to remember a new suername and password, or get their firewall to talk to posi-download, yadda yadda.
      Ok, I’m a geek, but I still don’t get whats so inconvenient about just downloading an exe once you buy a game. Exes can be backed up easily, moved to a different location etc etc.

    • subedii says:

      That’s my preferred model as well (which is why I go with GOG where possible), but it’s not really about having a centralised client for downloading your games from. He’s talking more about multiplayer / community architecture. Which is a pretty hefty investment. The success of a game like, say, Starcraft 2 hinges massively on the multiplayer and how well the community system is implemented. Which is why Blizzard spent so many years developing BNet.

      I mean Gas Powered Games originally made use of their own bespoke system (GPGNet, which is still up and running) for Supreme Commander 1’s multiplayer and community aspects. Come the sequel, they just went with Steamworks. Still provides what they need to, but they don’t need to invest nearly as much time and effort getting something like that running.

      Interoperability or standardisation between the two big players (GFWL and Steamworks) is something I’d like to see, but I’m not sure how likely it is. It would be nice if Amazon would open up the Kindle to other formats, but I don’t see that happenening either. Ultimately everyone’s trying to become the dominant market. And right now it’s looking like Steamworks is winning that particular battle hands down.

      Who knows, maybe if Blizzard really start pitching BNet to 3rd parties, there’ll be a semi-decent competitor. Because goodness knows that Microsoft aren’t doing it.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I can only sat that I agree. I’m somewhat dumbfounded that there are so many people focusing on (what seem to me) minor quibbles. What he says is basically why I have for so long opted not to use Steam (and now I do have it, alas, but that’s because of Steam-exclusives). The exclusive to this service thing is a concept I truly dislike. That’s because I generally favour and am used to stores not forcing their network/mode of community-building/etc. on me.

      But Valve and Steam are apparently blind spots in the eyes of many RPSites.

    • subedii says:

      It’s not an issue of “Blind Spots”. Like I said, Steamworks provides a pretty crucial service as a component of the games that it’s part of. There are other 3rd party systems that do so, and devs can make their own, but right now Steam’s often the best (and most viable) implementation.

      You can say “every game should be standalone and provide this service”, but that’s a lot of investment to reach a community system that’ll be acceptable and usable. You can alternatively say “Everyone should use a unified system”, but the whole point of an open platform like the PC is that devs are free to make use of whichever solution they feel works best for them. There’s no option on the 360, you use XBL or nothing. Sony has PSN. Nintendo has their ridiculous friend codes. It would be nice to have a unified standard at least, but realistically, these are all competing systems so I don’t see how likely that is to happen.

    • Forscythe says:

      Cliffski’s point is very well taken, it sucks in general when the games you buy are permanently tied to the store client you used to buy them – rather like if you had to bring Walmart home with you when you bought a retail game and you could only play by going into the store, walking past loads of marketing displays and finally playing your game on the store display machine.

  45. Urthman says:

    Everyone seems to be assuming the answer to “Is he stupid or evil?” is “stupid.”

    But maybe he’s purposely spreading FUD about Steam. “If you buy a game on Steam, you can’t play multiplayer with someone who buys retail.”

    Maybe it’s a purposeful lie to try to hurt Steam.

  46. Heliocentric says:

    Example: bioshock 2 bought on steam/retail/d2d/gamersgate/gfwlgod/getgames/etc can play with everyone, except maybe pirates, i doubt they even have a problem.

  47. Hellfire257 says:

    Well, he is right you know. Steam is a really pain to get to work with some games (ARMA2: CO) for example.

  48. ed says:

    I’ll support Gearbox regardless if they make interesting games (though if one requires GFWL it’ll have to be amazing for me to touch it).

    From where I’m sitting Steam is a great platform both for developers and gamers. A bedroom programmer can have a #1 selling game. I can buy and play games easier than I could pirate them. Sounds good to me.

    GFWL is awful, though. I had no knowledge or preconceptions about it when I first encountered it, and I found it to be an infuriating barrier between myself and the game.

  49. thesundaybest says:

    (Slowly clapping hands.)

    Bravo Gearbox. Don’t let thinking get in the way of speaking, ever.

  50. YouGottaBelieve says:

    You have to see it from their perspective. They want to do a multi-platform release which already includes Xbox Live (You’re not going to have multiplayer unless you write to that API). So if you’re doing Live you could potentially get GFWL for almost free which would be nice and you could potentially have cross platform play (good for co-op bad for competitive). But then you’re not going to have steamworks integration. Both systems are extremely invasive to the game with their overlays so you pretty much have to choose when you do your Windows implementation. So you could have a social abstraction layer but you’re going to be missing out on a whole lot more features and you’re doing a lot of work for one platform. I don’t think that it’s Valve really that is doing the ‘Siloing’ it’s Microsoft. If I were them I would just go Steam on Windows because as a consumer I think it’s a better system, but I can see how it would be a hard choice to make when you’ve already invested in Live for the 360.