It’s surprising to see a strong supporter of the Xbox 360 talk disparagingly about the platform. Valve boss Gabe Newell vented recently over Xbox Live and its complicated internal politics.
According to CVG, Gabe Newell admitted hoping that Microsoft would change was his biggest mistake in an interview with PC Gamer. Newell’s biggest complaint is over the fact that Microsoft won’t allow the studio to regularly update its games for free.
When asked if Newell thought that Microsoft would eventually allow Valve to update its games more often he replied:
We thought that there would be something that would emerge, because we figured it was a sort of untenable… Oh yeah, we understand that these are the rules now, but it’s such a train wreck that something will have to change.
Microsoft has complicated policies within Xbox Live that are dictated and driven by specific financial parameters. In most cases the company allows developers to make only one free update to their games via patch or marketplace. There are also restrictions to the amount of free content that can be given away by the studio.
In most cases, free content is the studios way of marketing and promoting the game even further. EPIC Games faced similar challenges with Xbox Live as Microsoft forced the studio to charge for map packs that were meant to be free.
Rockstar recently also complained about this issue as the studio was forced to bundle DLC meant to be free along with paid content. Of course to maintain a certain degree of parity with the Xbox 360, PS3 owners will receive a similar “treatment” regardless of Sony’s open attitude.
Gabe Newell applauded the PS3 by stating:
That’s why we’re really happy with the current situation with the PS3. We’re solving it now in a way that is going to work for our customers, rather than assuming something is going to emerge later that will allow us to fix this.
Valve’s Erik Johnson also expressed his frustration at Xbox Live. He stated:
The lack of updates on the 360, for TF2, is also a total failure. Those are the ones that sting the worst because… it got all the way through to customers. It’s like a bug. If you fix a bug before it ever ships, it’s pretty cheap. If you ship it and then fix it, it’s really expensive. Those ones are really bad.
Cleary the developers are not complaining about Xbox Live from a technical perspective but from a political stand point. The question remains – If Xbox Live continues to loose favor amongst major studios and even indie devs, how will it ultimately impact the consumer?