Randy Pitchford Once Again Demonstrates Why Gearbox Is the Doucheiest Developer in the Industry
Randy Pitchford is at it again, folks. Lusipurr.com readers may remember his extremely poor conduct when dealing with [read: blocking] upset customers customers over Twitter during the Aliens: Colonial Marines debacle. Pitchford is wont to dismiss most any legitimate criticism as trolling, because the man cannot take criticism, and certainly should not be allowed within typing distance of any form of social media.
The incident in question occurred after Jay [@MorningAfterKill], a fan of Borderlands 2, had the gall to attempt engaging Pitchford in some constructive criticism on account of his unfavourable view of Borderlands 2‘s second season of DLC in relation to the first. What followed was one of the most surreal and self-indulgent exchanges that one has ever witnessed on the Twitters, and one that was more than a little illuminating as to why Gearbox is apparently so content to release sub-standard material when they are clearly capable of far better. Essentially they are a company without the capacity for self-reflection, headed up by thin-skinned manchild of a president and CEO, who interprets any kind of criticism as an unfair attack.
“Jay: The side missions were really phoned in…i wouldnt have minded Gramma Torgue if that wasnt 50 percent of the DLC content
Randy Pitchford: I appreciate your opinion, but a designer crying himself to sleep doesn’t make for good future content…
Jay: If we are to blindly praise you at every corner you’d keep on releasing bad content. Wattle Gobbler was BAD content.
Randy Pitchford: Fuck you. Wattle Gobbler was awesome. The model alone is a f’ing riot! G’ma Torgue – priceless! No accounting for taste…
Jay: even in my rants you’ll hear me say I love this game & just want to see whats best for it for everyone. im just brutally harsh
Randy Pitchford:Yeah – and some people beat their kids or wife because they “love” them. If you hurt what you love, it goes away.
Jay: LOL Whoa hey now, comparing a bad review to beating children is just completely way off base Randy. even for me & you
Randy Pitchford: Well… wtf do I know? I like all kinds of shit other people think is stupid! #noaccountingfortaste
Jay: We were expecting Borderlands Gearbox to show up for theis DLC. Instead we got Aliens Colonial Marines Gearbox :(
Randy Pitchford: Careful. There’s only one Gearbox and it’s built of real people.
Jay: i only say the things i do because i know you guys are capable of so much more. Season Pass 1 proves it.
Randy Pitchford: You should consider positive encouragement towards your interests rather than negativity.”
Yes, Pitchford just likened mild criticism of Borderlands 2 DLC to child and/or spousal abuse – yes, Pitchford just suggested that his company should be entitled to exclusively positive criticism; and yes, Pitchford really did make it quite clear that Gearbox is not in the habit of listening to ‘negativity’ [read: legitimate criticism]. With all that has happened in the wake of Aliens: Colonial Marines it is absolutely staggering that Pitchford’s go to response for any criticism directed towards it is still to spin some indulgent sob-story about how the internet is hurting the feelings of his employees. Aliens: Colonial Marines was a bad game, and whoever worked on it should quite rightly feel poorly for having unleashed such an abomination as a sixty dollar game. At any rate, it cannot be a good thing for any studio to so thoroughly reject any form of criticism, much less a studio who’s quality of output fluctuates as violently as Gearbox.
PS4 Is the Biggest Console Launch in Gaming History
The release of the PS4 constitutes the biggest launch of console gaming hardware in the history of the industry. The PS4 was able to sell over one million units of hardware on the American launch day alone, and has since gone on to sell 2.4 million units worldwide, and outselling the Xbone on a 2:1 basis throughout Europe. The Xbone is no slouch either, amassing sales of 2 million units worldwide in the eighteen days since its launch, even despite the pricing and performance disparities inherent to the hardware; this is good enough to earn it the distinction of being the second biggest gaming hardware launch in history. By way of comparison, it took the PS4 sixteen days to break 2.1 million units sold, while it took the Xbox 360 a full three months to do the same. The combined sales of both consoles are almost equal to the total number of Wii Us that have been purchased to date, highlighting the abject failure of Nintendo’s year-long headstart. Sony’s Jack Tretton was understandably chuffed at the consumer response to the PS4:
“PlayStation 4 sales in North America and worldwide have been incredibly strong since launch, culminating in PS4 being recognized as the largest console launch in history. In North America alone, more than one million PS4 units were sold in only 24 hours and we’re pleased NPD has reported that PS4 was the top selling next gen platform for both hardware and software in November.”
Predictably, software charts have borne out Tretton’s software claims, with the same multiplatform games consistently outselling their Xbone counterparts. The most popular game on both systems is Call of Duty: Ghosts, which has managed to sell a full 60,000 more units on PS4 [1.08 million] than on Xbone [1.02 million], even despite the fact that Xbone owners will have exclusive early access to DLC map packs. Amazingly, the Wii U version of Call of Duty: Ghosts only managed to sell 70,000 units, indicating that the world’s 4.5 million Wii U owners really are not that interested in Call of Duty. The European launch on November 29 saw the PS4 version of FIFA 14 [288,404] outsell the Xbone version [202,594] even despite the fact that the Xbone launched in Europe a full week before the PS4, and featured FIFA 14 as a pack-in title. There have been 1,610,946 games sold for the PS4 in Europe [constituting an attach rate of 2.39 games sold per console], while there have been 939,017 games sold for the Xbone within Europe [constituting an attach rate of 2.83 games sold per console].
Perhaps the most notable peculiarity throughout the whole event has been the fact that in spite of record breaking sales on the part of both the PS4 and Xbone, there has nonetheless been a running commentary claiming that this will be the final generation of consoles on account of the rise of smartphone gaming. It would be tempting to take this record interest displayed in console gaming as proof positive that these naysayers are clearly barking up the wrong tree, yet that is not necessarily the case. As development costs continue to rise and gamers continue having their attention divided between smartphone titles and PC indy gaming, we will probably continue to see an increasing number of developers refocus their energies on smartphone development, and regardless of record levels of gamer interest in having console quality Call of Duty experiences, it is nevertheless the case that no console can survive on Call of Duty alone. It seems to be the case that gamers are becoming increasingly discerning in what they will spend a full sixty dollars on, and yet if home consoles are no longer viable platforms for a diverse library of content then they start to become a losing proposition for all parties concerned, even Call of Duty.
Forza 5’s Creative Director Is Sorry that Gamers Are Unreasonable
Following the launch of the Xbone, the release of Forza 5 has seen something of a furor, with series fans deriding the game for its heavy reliance on pay-to-play style microtransactions in order to unlock the game’s cars. Forza 5‘s main competitor, Gran Turismo 6, has this month launched with a similar microtransaction scheme to that of Forza, only more expensive – and yet despite this has garnered nowhere near the level of discontent that Forza has managed to accrue. The crucial difference between the two games is that Gran Turismo 6 is a sixty dollar game that plays like a sixty dollar game, but has the option for microtransactions on top of that; Forza 5 on the other hand appears to be designed along the same principles as a free-to-play game despite having the gall to charge players sixty dollars up front, and has been lambasted for awarding unacceptably small amounts of prize money while charging through the roof to unlock vehicles. In short, the game is designed to make players spend real money in order to progress. In response to this Forza 5‘s creative director, Dan Greenwalt, has said that he is sorry that players have ‘misread’ the studio’s intentions:
“I have to be honest, our team takes great pride in what lights up our players, and community’s the heart of what we do. So it’s been disappointing. I’m not disappointed in people – people feel how they feel. I’m more disappointed in myself that I’ve elicited this reaction in people. I think the biggest travesty for me is how people have misread our intentions, because that’s just been sad – community’s the biggest thing for us, and the whole point is to get people excited about cars and excited about games, so people saying we’ve changed the economy for this reason and we removed this feature for that reason – I understand it, because perception’s reality, and people start believing what they believe, but I know it’s not the thought process we went through to make the decisions we made.
I understand that if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck… I know the statement. But honestly if you look at free-to-play games they usually have things called paywalls, where you’re slowly wearing something down and the only way to get around it is to pay. That’s not what we implemented in Forza 4 and that wasn’t our goal in Forza 5 either. We don’t have paywalls. We have acceleration, and that was based on feedback from players in Forza 4 – there’s a small group of players that can’t be bothered to do things and they have disposable income.
They’re the sim guys in a lot of cases. They don’t want to do the career, and they don’t value those aspects, and that’s alright by me. With Forza 4 we had car tokens that range from one dollar to three dollars – the most expensive car was ten million credits in game, and it only cost three car tokens which would have been three dollars. That felt like it was not making the car exclusive enough for those who are willing to pay. So we made car tokens equal to credits – it’s not about making more money, it was actually about saving people’s time when doing the grind. I can totally see how people are perceiving it, but that wasn’t our thought process – we designed the tokens last, which isn’t how you’d do it if you were making a free-to-play game – you would design that economy and the token economy first, because that’s how you make your revenue. That’s not how we make the revenue – we sell the game, and the tokens aren’t a big revenue driver. As a creative director, we were looking at it as basically giving people cheats, but if you want to put cheats in you have to pay for them, which puts a barrier in and makes it exclusive to those who want to pay for them.”
A studio does not get to design a game which all but forces players to spend additional real-world currency in order unlock high level content, and then snarkily apologise that players were mistaken in interpreting the situation. If Greenwalt were sincere about saving people time by bypassing the grinding, then he need not have resorted to charging money to do so. Cars could be made more affordable, prize money could be made more plentiful, or cheatcodes could even be built into the game without the need for shaking down players for their pocket change. Polyphony Digital and Gran Turismo 6 are certainly not innocent in this respect, but at least those microtransactions were optional. In response to the backlash against Forza 5‘s freemium design, the game is now set to be patched into a more playable form, which will see the price of cars fall by forty-five percent and the amount of prize money awarded raised by sixty percent – that Turn 10 is able to do this without breaking their game is truly a testament to how mean their game’s economy was at launch.