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gdc 2010

Valve and Blizzard Defend PC Platform, Diss Console Flexiblity

by Matt Bertz on Mar 12, 2010 at 09:10 PM

In a GDC discussion panel titled "The Connected Future of Games," Valve director of business development Jason Holtman and Blizzard executive vice president Rob Pardo made strong arguments championing the PC platform's flexibility and deriding the rigid framework of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

"One of the great strengths of the PC is that it's open," Holtman said when talking about the second part of the Portal 2 promotion in which they changed the ending to the original game. "That's a thing that we can do on the PC. You can go back and as you think of things you can react to them – you can wake up the next day and say, 'I learned this yesterday and I want to do this today.'"

In contrast, contemporary consoles suffer from lengthy processes to get new content, patches, and game updates approved and delivered to customers. This is often a bane to development teams that want to fix a game-crippling bug (think Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's Javelin glitch) or deliver new content on their own schedule. This troubling fact was also harped upon by Blizzard's Pardo.

After the panel wrapped up and the Q&A session began, one attendee asked the Blizzard exec what it would take to bring games like World of Warcraft to consoles."A better cert process," he said. "You have to go through all sorts of cert processes to get it to the platform, and I think that's a real challenge for all of the stuff we were talking about. If we want to put World of Warcraft on a console, and you want to run patches – one of the things we have to do all the time is put up a patch when you find a bug that will completely unhinge a game. We'll actually do a hot fix."

No such avenue currently exists on consoles.

Until Microsoft and Sony loosen their grip on console accessibility and allow development teams to make changes and provide services to products as they see fit, don't expect to see Valve and Blizzard ditch the PC as their primary platform.