According to Telltale CTO Kevin Bruner, "Steam may be one the greatest things to happen recently ... we put Steam as one of the A-list distribution channels; up there with XBLA and WiiWare." The praise doesn't stop there -- Ars points out that it was unable to find even one developer who would "admit to feeling exploited" by Valve's business practices concerning Steam.
We reached out to Pitchford, who told us, "As a gamer, I love Valve ... as a customer, I love Steam." He clarified, "From an industry perspective, Steam would be even better off if it were a separate company ... trust issues that result from conflict of interest could be mitigated." To Pitchford, it's a question of appearances rather than actual impropriety. "It's just perception within segments of the publishing and development community that, I guess, no one is really talking about."
We've posted Pitchford's entire (and quite lengthy) response after the break. Hopefully we're not alone in hoping everyone will just hug it out.
Randy Pitchford's statement:
"As a gamer, I *love* Valve's games. Hell, I've *made* some of Valve's games!
"As a customer, I love Steam. I like owning a credential that I can use from any terminal and I like the software. There are other things I like, too.
"As a businessman, I appreciate the access to Valve's customers that they are providing with Steam. I think there's value to that access. I'm really happy that the Brothers in Arms games are available on Steam and I think Steam customers are really going to dig Borderlands. I have been and hope to be a partner to Valve for many years.
"From an industry perspective of digital distribution on the PC, I think Steam is doing it the best right now. They're in front and they're really getting value out of their leadership position with digital distribution on the PC.
"From an industry perspective, I believe that Steam would be even better off if it were a separate company. Trust issues that result from conflict of interest could be mitigated if Steam were a separate company. Take that only as analysis. It doesn't matter how much I trust Valve or how trustworthy Valve actually is - it's just perception within segments of the publishing and development community that, I guess, no one is really talking about. I'm on record in this article saying how I personally trust Valve. I was attempting to comment on perception from some angles of the industry.
"I also believe that gamers and customers and anyone making games using 3rd party digital distribution systems would be greatly benefited if Steam had some viable competitors. Competition generally drives higher quality products and services at lower prices. I can't see how anyone could argue against that point. If we love Steam, we should hope that as competition appears that it prompts the Steam folks to go faster and better towards improving the service and the pricing.
"In spite of the implication made in this blurb, I do not want Microsoft to control digital distribution on PC, but believe they (and others) could enter the space if they wanted to and help the competitive landscape and even, perhaps, help to standardize the landscape a bit. I believe that because Valve is a game maker that generally "gets it" I think there's a lot of value to the position they have and I'm really excited about the risk they took and the foresight Valve showed in paving the way there.
"These are not mutually exclusive feelings and they are all honest and forthright."