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Catching Up With Gearbox's Randy Pitchford


June 13, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 10 Next
 

You don't have an exit strategy, then?

RP: No. An exit strategy only exists if the thing you're doing is not an end, but a means to an end. For me, making games is the end. That is the point. Gearbox exists as a vehicle for myself and for the others at our studio to be creative and to enjoy it, be happy, and then to be successful and make money.

If we're going to do something that people like and does well, I think that should go to the creators.

It's interesting. I talked to David Jaffe, and he did start Eat Sleep Play with an exit strategy.

RP: Yeah. I haven't talked to him about that, but then, you're not creating something that's an end. You're creating something that's a means to an end and you're actually wanting something else.

This is totally me, probably, but I have a feeling it's a reaction to having worked for Sony and generating amazing amounts of money for Sony and maybe not getting the rewards that he felt were due.

RP: It's tricky. He's done some great things for Sony, but some of his projects were not cheap. God of War was a high-risk bet. When it comes to risk, Jaffe's risk was opportunity cost, and certainly some his talent and the talent of that team created the result.

But from Sony's point of view, they risked a lot of money, and they also risked opportunity, because they can only manage so many things. So they're entitled to some of that return.

I know I've heard Jaffe talk about how he wants to make more money than he is, and I think it's not surprising that there's many folks in the world that have a little greed as part of them.

But when I got in this business, there was no money in it, and I was racing at it, because it was fun, man. And before I was in the business, I was doing it for free, as an amateur. Just tinkering around with my computer and learning how to program and making text adventures and stuff.

If I could've known that I'd have enough to eat and have a place to live, and I could do that and have fun creating and playing in these virtual worlds, I could imagine doing that forever. So I tried to create conditions so that was true.

The EA Question

When you were speaking about partnership advantages, that's BioWare. I mean, you weren't necessarily intentionally talking about BioWare...

RP: BioWare's interesting, and they're another case altogether. They're created some brands, and they've worked with some brands out there, and they have a lot of things lined up. I think there's probably a few things going on there. None of us can know without...

Well, I'm just saying based on what they said. I'm not just wildly theorizing. I think it's also more for Pandemic's part, because they had already entered into a relationship with EA on Saboteur.

RP: Yeah, but they're also doing things with LucasArts.

I believe that Josh at Pandemic, said essentially a lot of what you just said. It was, "Why do we want to have to chase after the deal every time, and focus on these things that are not actually related to what we are doing?"

RP: Yeah, sometimes people make decisions along those lines. For us, I worry that that might be correct at that moment at that time, but it will become a risk if EA's goals do not align with your studio's creative goals, if you're owned by EA, for example. Or if you're owned by anybody, if their goals are no longer aligned with your goals, you have no flexibility.

Well, that's been the classic EA scenario, I think, over the years. For some studios.

RP: I'm always excited to beat up the evil empire or whatever, but on the other hand I have to give EA some respect. I love [the EA-distributed] Rock Band, and I thought Skate was really cool. I think they're starting to get some credibility back.

I thought with [Medal Of Honor] Airborne, they were kind of missing the point there, but I think especially some of the things that came out of the EAP group at the end of the year is some good stuff, man. I was totally addicted to Burnout Paradise. I'm loving that too, you know?

Were you at DICE?

RP: Yeah, I went to DICE.

Did you watch John Riccitiello's...

RP: I didn't, but a lot of people told me about it later.

It was a very interesting speech, I think. Talking to some developers, I did encounter some cynicism about it.

RP: What was the takeaway of this?

For me, or from people in general?

RP: Both.

I think that the concept of the city-state, which is that their successes, both creatively and, actually, commercially, and with keeping their studios functional, has been to allow them to operate on their own culture and their own wavelength and produce the titles that they want to produce, and that if anything, the culture has to seep into EA corporate and not out of EA corporate and the studios.

RP: I think if that was a statement from John, then that shows some learning that they've done. There's some examples where they've done the opposite and that hasn't worked out so well, like with Westwood and Origin and whatnot.

It's interesting, too. Maxis is an interesting thing. They've pretty much absorbed Maxis, so who's affected who there? That's really interesting. It's kind of a symbiosis.

Those are the same examples he used for both scenarios. I talked to some guys from EA DICE. They had an event with EA to show off the two Battlefield games and to show off Mirror's Edge. DICE is very happy with where they are right now.

RP: They're able to do some cool stuff. I'm sure that makes sense for them, and that's why they did that.

I like our independence, but I can always imagine scenarios that would make sense. I think that if the right people came to Gearbox with the right proposition... the thing is, I'm not chasing that. We're able to chase our own goals, and we're doing it quite well.


Article Start Previous Page 6 of 10 Next

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