Carmack: Digital Distribution is Not Easy

August 25, 2011 -

Speaking to Tom's Guide in a lengthy interview about everything from RAGE to the latest hardware, id Software co-founder and programming genius John Carmack offered an interesting answer on the new trend of company's starting their own digital distribution services. Carmack said that the work that Valve put into Steam was not easy, despite what some companies might think:

Question: Moving onto digital distribution: How do you feel about developers and publishers striking out on their own for digital distribution? Steam/Valve is the big dog, and now you have Origin/EA, too.

Answer: There’s definitely a sense that publishers don’t want to be tied to Valve. It seems like an easy thing, setting up your own digital distribution, but I caution everyone that there is a lot more expertise built up at Valve than you might think. It’s a harder task than just setting up some automated FTP sites with a web front end, and they have a network effect going by having the games download in the background. Everybody thinks, “Well, I don’t want to split my money with Valve. How hard can it be to set this up?” And my advice is: usually it’s harder than you think it is. I think from the consumer side, digital distribution like Steam is doing a really good thing. It’s better than dealing with getting the box and losing the CD and all of those related issues. Everybody knows that this is the way the wind is blowing.

Question: And Steam didn’t take off until several years after its initial release.

Answer: I remember us talking with Valve, and they were trying to get us to release Doom 3 on Steam. Our response was basically, “Are you crazy? We’re not going to do this!” All the props in the world should go out to Valve for having a vision, sticking with it through adversity, and then really coming out of things in the captain’s chair.

You can read the entire thing here. It's an excellent and fascinating look at one of the industry's best developers.


 
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Mattsworknameor me thats demanding accountability on this, it's the ones who undertook the actiosn against these sites and went after the advertisers07/29/2015 - 11:13pm
MattsworknameJust cause you or I disagree with there response, they still feel they have a right to hold Groups like kotaku, gamasutra, Gawker, ET all, to account for what they felt was a vile and inappropriate action. Regardless of your or my view on it, it's nto you07/29/2015 - 11:13pm
Mattsworknamebetrayed or insulted by the articles in question, then they will feel a need to hold those media groups, regardless of intent, to account for that action, be it right or wrong.07/29/2015 - 11:12pm
MattsworknameAndrew: :target audience or not, if a large enough portion of our audience has a given view point Andrew, then you risk aggrivating that audience at your own peril. your question has been answer. if a large enough part of a media groups audience felt07/29/2015 - 11:11pm
Andrew EisenMy original question (which I've posed to you four or five times now) still stands.07/29/2015 - 11:04pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Yes, non-industry folk are welcome to and do read Gamasutra. That doesn't change the fact that they're not the site's target audience. Which wasn't my point anyway, merely an offered clarification as you keep referring to it like it's IGN.07/29/2015 - 11:04pm
MattsworknameNo different then GG ttrying to get Vox, Kotaku, gawker, and other such sties to fold cause they disagree, it's not right, but it's also the most common and most widely used of methods now adays.07/29/2015 - 10:21pm
MattsworknameTechnogeek: No, there isn't, you or I have no right to say someone cant say something, no matter how much we may dislike it. Even if you hate what they said, they have a right to say it. trying to shut someone down cause you don[t like what they say, is07/29/2015 - 10:20pm
Mattsworknameexamples of movments like what happend with those articles that occured with other, much bigger incidents.07/29/2015 - 10:18pm
Mattsworknameto the articles posted on gamsutra and elsewhere with such intensity. As i've pointed out, we have plenty of examples of this same exact actions taken by other groups. As I pointed out, this kinda thing happens alot now, and I can share some big07/29/2015 - 10:18pm
MattsworknameAndrew, sorry for taking so long to reply, been busy all day. To answer you queston, you keep pointing out gamasutra was popular with industry folks. Yes thats true, but it had a BIG following among game enthusists and they were among those that responded07/29/2015 - 10:16pm
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Andrew EisenPHX - Yep, we linked that interview last week. http://gamepolitics.com/2015/07/24/gearbox-founder-has-nothing-praise-aliens-colonial-marines-duke-nukem-forever07/29/2015 - 8:42pm
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