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Gearbox's Pitchford: Steam Is 'Exploiting A Lot Of Small Guys'

Gearbox's Pitchford: Steam Is 'Exploiting A Lot Of Small Guys'

October 7, 2009 | By Chris Remo

October 7, 2009 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software, one of the industry's major independent developers, thinks Valve should spin off its Steam digital distribution service into an independent company, to reduce existing "conflict of interest" issues.

Pitchford, who co-founded Gearbox in 1999, told Maximum PC in an interview that while he "personally trust[s] Valve," the Seattle-area company is also a development competitor -- and in that capacity, "as a guy in this industry, I don't trust Valve."

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

In addition to the dangers of a potential monopoly, Pitchford warned that the company is already taking advantage of developers smaller than Gearbox, although he did not provide specific details. "Valve is taking a larger share than it should for the service its providing. It's exploiting a lot of small guys," he said, adding, "For us big guys, we're going to sell the units and it will be fine."

Gearbox has a long history with Valve. Its first completed game was the well-received Half-Life: Opposing Force, an expansion pack for Valve's original Half-Life, and it later developed a second expansion, Half-Life: Blue Shift. Gearbox also contributed to several ports of Half-Life to various non-PC platforms.

The company's Brothers In Arms series is also available in full through Steam. And preorders for its upcoming shooter/RPG blend, Borderlands, are currently being sold by Steam as well as by competitors Direct2Drive and GamersGate, but not Impulse.

"I love Valve games, and I do business with the company," Pitchford said. "But, I'm just saying, Steam isn't the answer."

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