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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Andrew EisenI only know of him being annoyed that IGDA mistakenly hosted on it's anti-harrasment tools page, a blocklist he was on. What else was he critical of?01/31/2015 - 2:19am
Goth_Skunk@WonderKarp: Given Rosario's outspoken criticisms of the conduct of the IGDA, I would not be one bit surprised if he's being strong-armed into silence in closed-door meetings. He's not towing the party line, after all.01/30/2015 - 11:38pm
MechaTama31EZK: Thank you! (And I was able to see that you did it, only because you did it. How appropriate! :)01/30/2015 - 11:37pm
Matthew Wilson@Monte Nintendo is a Japanese company though. consoles are dead in japan. ps sony is a international company, so they do not much care about Japanese sales much.01/30/2015 - 10:11pm
MonteOnly one generation ago nintnedo had the best selling console. They know their games are still popular and can move their hardware. They just need to focus on better gaming hardware and advertising (their youtube policy not helping)01/30/2015 - 9:58pm
MonteI'd expect Nintendo to keep making consoles, much like the gamecube i doubt nintendo will see the Wii U as a sign of the end for consoles. There are multiple reason why the Wii U failed a big one being marketting.01/30/2015 - 9:55pm
Wonderkarpwhen asked on Twitter, the Chairman said He couldnt comment at this time https://twitter.com/siloraptor/status/561284497275367424. still looking for facts01/30/2015 - 9:41pm
Wonderkarphttp://pressfarttocontinue.com/2015/01/30/igda-puerto-rico-closed/ this is what I have so far01/30/2015 - 9:27pm
Wonderkarpso allegedly, IGDA has closed their Puerto Rico branch. This comes after the Chairman of the Puerto Rico branch was blocklisted by Randi Harper. I'm trying to dig up more info on it. all I have is a link with some info, but its not cited.01/30/2015 - 9:27pm
Andrew EisenSo, kinda like the Wii U just with a GamePad that's portable?01/30/2015 - 9:13pm
Matthew Wilson@AE I hope they do a Ipad/iphone thing. make a home console/handheld where games are playable on both. that is what I would want from them.01/30/2015 - 9:00pm
Andrew EisenThat would be a shame but as long as I can play comfortably on my TV I'll probably be fine with whatever the future brings.01/30/2015 - 8:56pm
Matthew Wilson@AE I would get used to it. I do not think nintendo is going to do another home console , but I suspect a hybrid one. 1. they are doing worse than the gamecube. 2. the home console market is dead in japan. even the ps4 isnt selling there.01/30/2015 - 8:54pm
Andrew EisenAside from that (and the aiming isn't too smooth but it's turn based so it's not a big deal (maybe better with Circle Pad Pro or New 3DS?)) my only other quibble is I'd much prefer playing it on a console. But I say that about nearly every handheld game.01/30/2015 - 8:39pm
Andrew EisenFrom what I've seen of Valkyria Chronicles, this is significantly slower. Mechanically, it's fine and plays into the game well. It just takes too long.01/30/2015 - 8:37pm
Matthew Wilsonyup like VC it moves every enemy each turn one by one.01/30/2015 - 8:33pm
Andrew EisenI played most of the Codename Steam demo. Pretty neat so far but the enemy turn (it's turn based) takes way too long.01/30/2015 - 8:31pm
Goth_SkunkJust finished the first episode of Life is Strange. The writing is hit-or-miss, the lip-syncing is awful (but I can't fault an indie dev for that), but the chronokinesis mechanic is dynamite. Love the concept. Can't wait to play more.01/30/2015 - 8:23pm
Andrew EisenNintendo invites disaster!01/30/2015 - 7:34pm
TechnogeekRelevant links: http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2015/01/apex_2015_video_gaming_tournament_at_secaucuss_emp.html http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/01/30/apex-2015-smash-bros-tournament-resumes-after-short-delay01/30/2015 - 7:29pm
 

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