We love Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford here at Dealspwn - so much so that he's one of our Gaming Angels of 2010. And why? Because he's never afraid to open his big fat mouth and have a go at anything he doesn't like.
This time, the increasingly-influential exec believes that many publishers are forcing their studios to add inappropriate multiplayer modes to their wares... and that this is completely the wrong way to go about wringing an extra buck from us consumers.
Speaking to EDGE Magazine (via CVG), Pitchford argues that publishers fail to take a game's unique experience and charm into account; focusing on simple numbers and statistics that take "the ability to make good decisions out of the picture."
Let's forget about what the actual promise of a game is and whether it's suited to a narrative or competitive experience. Take that off the table for a minute and just think about the concept-free feature list: campaign, co-op, how many players? How many guns? How long is the campaign?
When you boil it down to that, you take the ability to make good decisions out of the picture. And the reason they do it is because they notice that the biggest blockbusters offer a little bit for every kind of consumer.
Pitchford continued to blame many publishers of "wrongly forcing" their studios to include a multiplayer mode in titles that simply don't need them, and used Dead Space 2 as an example of this concept in action.
[Dead Space 2 is] ceiling-limited; it'll never do 20 million units. The best imaginable is a peak of four or five million units if everything works perfectly in your favour. So the bean counters go: 'How do I get a higher ceiling?' And they look at games that have multiplayer.
They're wrong, of course. What they should do instead is say that they're comfortable with the ceiling, and get as close to the ceiling as possible. Put in whatever investment's required to focus it on what the promise is all about.
You know he's right. I can think of dozens of games off the top of my head that feature an entirely unnecessary multiplayer mode tacked on for the merry hell of it - and I bet you can too. Having said all that, though, Duke Nukem Forever's multiplayer modes have come under a lot of scrutiny recently... and if they're not up to scratch, we'll be turning Randy's spotlight back on Gearbox with a vengeance.
Watch this space - and sound off in the comments!