Gearbox CEO On Gamer Criticism: "Some People Are Sadists"

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Gearbox CEO On Gamer Criticism: "Some People Are Sadists"

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford dismisses vocal, highly critical gamers as "the kid that kicks down your sandcastle".

"There is always the person who's got to stand on the sandcastle, they must crush it," said Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford at the Develop conference in Brighton, UK. "That's their way of relating to that. It's typically a less sophisticated mind. There's a dark part of us all that likes the idea of crushing a sandcastle, but most of us will respect it and let it be."

Pitchford used this sandcastle analogy to describe to the "problem" of vocal, highly critical gamers in today's industry, making some allusions to his own studio's critically panned Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem Forever.

"If you're making entertainment on a grand scale, if you're reaching millions, there will be tens of thousands of people who absolutely hate us, and some percentage of those will take it upon themselves to let us known how they feel," he said.

"I read it in this way: we moved those people, we touched them - even the person who hates [your game] so much, you've affected them. That's why we fight, we're creating emotion and experience - and some people thrive on that type of feeling, some people are sadists."

As part of his keynote, Pitchford performed a magic trick based on the classic Three Card Monte street scam, explaining to attendees that while the vast majority of spectators would quietly appreciate the entertainment act, a small percentage would be critical and seek to validate that by attempting to convert others.

So there you go. According to Pitchford's speech, all of you guys complaining about how laughably broken Colonial Marines was are just that jerk kid at the beach who kicks over sandcastles.

Source: The Guardian

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But... but... YOUR GOD DAMN SAND CASTLE WAS BUILT UPON LIES!!

I'm literally speechless. I think I'm just gonna kick some sand castles in frustration.

Well, not as if the guy hadnt done more than his fair share to earn that ire.

Still wont factor in when im considering buying Battleborn and the next Borderlands at launch though.

Wow, two articles in one day that give me cause to say unflattering things about Randy Pitchford? And, er... fulfill my sadistic appetites in the process, apparently?

Oh Escapist, you shouldn't have!

Things is, he's not entirely wrong. Anything popular or widespread is going to have a large number of detractors proportionate to that popularity. Some of them are going to be needlessly petty and venomous. Gamers certainly aren't any better than anyone else at voicing their grievances in an articulate and respectful manner. And yes, some people just plain enjoy shitting in your cereal.

However, pointing to a pile of shit and saying, "That right there is a pile of shit", is not an act of sadism. Hell, I wish I'd been able to derive some form of sadistic thrill from a Gearbox game. Sure would have been an improvement over wishing the fucking thing could end so I can get onto another, better game, or maybe clean the bathroom.

Also, defending something that made people angry by saying, "Hey, we touched them with our finely crafted emotional experiences," is weak bullshit. It'd be like Warner Bros saying that the PC version of Arkham Knight must be a powerful bit of media to have "touched" audiences the way it did.

It's more like he made a blob of wet sand, called it a sandcastle, and cried when someone stepped on it without realizing it was someone's "sand castle".

Don't play the victim. You played on people's expectations, made fake gameplay videos, and delivered a poor-quality game.

Soo, You make a fake trailer that looks better than the game and appears to play better than the game and has content that's not in the game and when people complain about this they are sadists?

Fuck you Randy Pitchford!

Yeah us gamers derive sick pleasure from calling out obscenely shitty games that were built on a bed of lies.

We, as a community, get nasty too easily. Although in this case it's justified.

I'll agree with him to an extent. Some people are just whiny sadistic assholes looking to berate other people to make themselves feel good, but in the case of Gearbox they really did deserve the shitstorm feedback after DNF and Aliens. Hell even the last Borderlands was pretty bad, just a cash-in really, with a pointless gimmick.

I'm a fan of Borderlands but Gearbox have been delivering utter shite lately, I don't think it's fair to paint every complaint with the same dismissive brush. It's also unhealthy for your business, because if you can't handle criticism and you bury your head in the sand how do you expect to improve your product in the future?

I think Randy is still upset for being caught with his hand in the candy jar ;)

I get it, it must suck, but the guy also forgets just how massively poorly customers in gaming are treated. The fact that we just got refunds on Steam, is completely baffling to me. That it took that long, I mean.

I can't think of any other industry where screwing over the customer so much is not only allowed, but encouraged. We used to get games made out of love and now we get one pile of shit after another.
No, it's not all bad, yes there are plenty of indie alternatives, but the triple A industry gets horny whenever there's a new way of getting money out of us, for as little production cost as possible.

Besides hating on Randy Pitchford, this is a pretty serious issue when you consider how many wonderful and LOYAL gamers there are out there. It's been a while since I've seen a "you're all entitled losers" article, but there's still an air of disdain towards us and until we get treated the way we should (as paying customers), the sour and downright vicious comments towards the industry will continue relentlessly.
Well, they probably will anyway, but if you know you've done a good job, the comments won't bite anywhere near as hard.

Smilomaniac:
I get it, it must suck, but the guy also forgets just how massively poorly customers in gaming are treated. The fact that we just got refunds on Steam, is completely baffling to me. That it took that long, I mean.

The EU basically forced Steam to do it. That being said, they were not forced to extend it to every territory that Steam is in. They did that on their own, probably as a good faith gesture to their other customers.

This will quickly be forgotten the next time someone wants to claim that all government regulation is bad and all private industry is good. Because the world is completely binary that way... or something.

the moment I saw the headline I pre-emptively thought "oh fuck off Randy", that thought was not misplaced, I'm sure some people are sadists, but they would be no less justified in calling you out on the bullshit of your game than anyone else, you lied to everyone, and now you're calling us sadists for taking issue with it, I shall say once more, fuck off Randy Pitchford!

Those were sandcastles?! I thought that was just dog crap I stepped in. 60 bucks worth.

Seriously Randy, be glad some people even bought your junk.

Oh dear someone got at a media outlet before the PR people could catch him, again.

Randy, I'd just like to take this time to assure you that I did not personally kick over your sand castle. Mostly because that wasn't sand it was made of, but finely minced shit that would stick to my boot if I so much as touched it. I played other, better games instead.

Sandcastles don't cost £60, Mr. Pitchford.

Keep digging Randy, maybe if you dig deep enough you'll find an actual excuse for your bullshit.

And I'm sorry, but you're not a rapper: "fuck the haters" doesn't really work if you just make bad games and then shift responsibility.

Perhaps if they stopped making shitty games and selling them on lies people would stop telling them how shit their games are. Yes, I know there are plenty of people who genuinely are just arseholes looking to tear down your dreams, but if your dreams consist of making money by exploiting fans with lies and bullshit you shouldn't expect anyone to weep for you.

Your castle wasn't made of sand, Randy, it was made of dog turds.
Guess I must be a sadist for not appreciating dog turds.

Zhukov:
Wow, two articles in one day that give me cause to say unflattering things about Randy Pitchford? And, er... fulfill my sadistic appetites in the process, apparently?

Oh Escapist, you shouldn't have!

Things is, he's not entirely wrong. Anything popular or widespread is going to have a large number of detractors proportionate to that popularity. Some of them are going to be needlessly petty and venomous. Gamers certainly aren't any better than anyone else at voicing their grievances in an articulate and respectful manner. And yes, some people just plain enjoy shitting in your cereal.

However, pointing to a pile of shit and saying, "That right there is a pile of shit", is not an act of sadism. Hell, I wish I'd been able to derive some form of sadistic thrill from a Gearbox game. Sure would have been an improvement over wishing the fucking thing could end so I can get onto another, better game, or maybe clean the bathroom.

Also, defending something that made people angry by saying, "Hey, we touched them with our finely crafted emotional experiences," is weak bullshit. It'd be like Warner Bros saying that the PC version of Arkham Knight must be a powerful bit of media to have "touched" audiences the way it did.

It's one of those things where I'd say "You know, he actually has a point" if it was coming from nearly ANYBODY ELSE.

Randy, on the other hand, is just completely untethered from reality by this point. He's like a more sociopathic Peter Molyneux.

What exactly is he referring to? It all sounds extremely vague. Does he mean people like Jim Sterling or Angry Joe who are harsch but understandably so or does he mean people who send him threaths and the like? There are always people on the internet who take things too far and there is no excuse for that. On the other hand, if he is referring to harsch criticism, that might be unpleasant for him but from what I have seen it was well deserved.

I read it in this way: we moved those people, we touched them - even the person who hates [your game] so much, you've affected them. That's why we fight, we're creating emotion and experience - and some people thrive on that type of feeling, some people are sadists.

Being hit by a car is an emotional experience. It is not however artistic or a good thing. People need to stop pretending that emotions make art. False advertising pisses people off not because of how artistic it is but because it is a dick move. That is why most people were so pissed.

Well, on the one hand, he may be right. After all, I'm sure there are plenty of people who talk shit about Call of Duty that have never played it[1]. However, I don't think that doesn't mean there are legitimate complaints to be had. No art is perfect. I'm sure Da Vinci felt there were minor issues in the Mona Lisa.

However, he's not one to talk. Colonial Marines was God awful. If the only problem was the unfinished AI (literally saw a video of an alien that basically became the players pet as it would stand and follow him, but not attack) the game would have major flaws. But, I don't think I have to tell anyone, that wasn't the only flaw. The game's marketing was a great big lie.

So maybe there is a small issue, but Pitchford is not the person to voice that complaint. This is like Lars Ulrich complaining about being broke.

And you know the best way to prevent this? Make good games. Also, don't mislead your consumer. That might help, too.

[1] I don't play CoD. I don't care about CoD. I don't talk shit about CoD. You do you.

Was it just a casual oversight or intentional misdirection that caused you to gloss over how The Guardian framed that analogy?

During his keynote, Pitchford claimed that criticism is a natural element of mainstream entertainment production. He went on to use an analogy of building sandcastles on a beach. While some people will walk past and either admire or criticise the construction, others will want to attack it - a veiled reference to vocal critics on games forums.

I.E. criticizing the construction of Colonial Marines (the sandcastle) does not make you "that jerk kid at the beach who kicks over sandcastles". Attacking Gearbox for making it however, does.

Wait, wait, wait, did gamers lie to gearbox and fucked up two franchises?

As far as I see, Gearbox told someone to built something on sand and then said that watered sand blotch was a dreamcastle and wanted entrance fees.

making mistakes is not the essential problem, though Mr Bitchfork should have know better, the real problem is not owning up to them.

The amount of times I've seen these professionals say extremely stupid shit is amazing. If you think it's just gamers who have problems then you are in Lala Land, riding the ice-cream unicorn through the gum drop forest.

He didn't just say that according to Jim. He's painted himself like a hero standing against the criticism.

That's some quality Artistic Integrity™ there my boy. People have the right to point out the turd in your sandcastle, which you claimed were beautiful sticks.

This guy's a right proper douche. Just another CEO going around saying "Hey everyone, guess what? MY SHIT DOESN'T STINK!"

YOUR GAMES ARE BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD!

*ahem*

Sorry.

Sure, people can be very critical of your product, and it must be very hard for the people who made it, because they must've spent months, if not years of their life, creating something for other people, only have have it blow up in their faces. However, the main problem is, and always has been, the fact that games like Aliens: Colonial Marines were sold based on pre-release materials that showed the games to be way, way better than the product that we were sold in the end.

Some people may get off on abusing others, but you seem to get off on lying.

Snarky and witty responses aside, here's Mr. Pitchfork again completely dodging responsibility. Especially this quote:

"That's why we fight, we're creating emotion and experience-"

Really? I mean, really?

It genuinely makes me wonder why the other boardmembers just let Pitchfork have his way. Clearly most people must realize that he's trying to talk himself out of making some very bad decisions instead of owning up to them. And such talk is really hurting the Gearbox brand, which can't be good for anyone involved.

What's that Randy? You don't want people who are honest about their opinions buying your games anymore?

Message received loud and clear buddy. Don't buy any Gearbox products in the future. Got it!

He's right to an extent. This is something every developer has to deal with. You have to look the average amount of unwarranted hate that games get, and ignore that same amount of hate yourself, discarding it as "margin of bullshit." The problem that Pitchford doesn't seem to get is that even after that, there's still a TON of legitimately warranted negativity being pointed at Duke Nukem Forever and especially at Aliens: Colonial Marines.

In statistics, you have to ignore everything that falls within the margin of error, and worry about what's left. But that only works if you have a sane idea of what that margin is. If 98% of study participants report your headache medicine reduced or removed their headaches, you can safely say it works. If only 2% report it helped, you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT say it works and then call the 98% it didn't work for outliers.

That is exactly what Pitchford is doing here. He is outright dismissing negative criticism as "sadists" and pretending that the games are good and it's our fault if we're not satisfied. Newsflash: If that were the case, these games would have similar averages on Metacritic to other games. Trolls (and sadists, apparently) tend to spread their venom pretty evenly; if one company's games in particular seem to have worse reputations and worse average reviews than everyone else, that's not random hate. That's bad games.

P.S. Thanks

P.P.S. I think this quote about sums up what I think of Randy Pitchford:

"There's a lot of online bullies and haters and bloggers. We stand up to them, and I think we're the only ones that ever have as restaurant owners. And they come and they try to attack us and they say horrible things that are not true."
-Amy Bouzaglo, Amy's Baking Company

Its true that people are crushing the sandcastle, only in this case the 'sand' used to make the castle was wet kitty litter and everyone wanted destroy it to get rid of the smell and ensure no one ever makes a sandcastle out of cat litter ever again.

Ahahahahahaha, oh, wow. Yeah... fuck you, Randy, fuck you in the eyesocket with a red-hot crowbar. People call you a scamming shit for a reason - because you scam and you are shit. It doesn't make them sadists, it makes them intelligent. But you wouldn't want people to be intelligent, would you, Randy?

Yes, while that may hold some truth, but when it is Adolf Hitler's sandcastle (universally acknowledged as bad) instead of the Dalia Lama's sandcastle (mostly considered good) then you kick it over.

And then you keep kicking until it is devoid of life and Hitler acknowledges he will never attempt to pass his sandcastle off as the Dalia Lama's ever again.

See that, Mr Pitchford? Others can make your own analogy work to include the horrors you tried to pass off as entertainment.

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