“Every game ships with compromises,” says Borderlands dev CEO

Gearbox Software has revealed that “every game ships with compromises”, regardless of its success.

The developer behind such titles as Borderlands and Brothers in Arms has revealed a rather large industry secret — that shipped games are far from perfect.

Speaking during the Develop Conference in Brighton, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said that a developer’s job is not to make the perfect game.

“Our mission is not to realise our vision. Our mission is to entertain other people. And so you have to ship. You have to call it done,” said Pitchford. “Someone once said to me that ‘Art is never done; it’s never finished; it’s abandoned’. You have to figure out that point where you’re willing to let go and be okay with the judgement.”

And that’s true of all the games you’ve ever played, even your most treasured titles apparently.

It’s something that’s becoming more palpable in the industry too, with a number of games of late shipping with horrendous bugs that often make them unplayable. Just look at Assassin’s Creed Unity, and the more recent issues afflicting the Batman Arkham Knight PC version.

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“There is no game I’ve ever worked on – from the most successful to the least successful, from the most critically acclaimed to worst critical disaster – where I haven’t felt, the moment we shipped, that there’s just tremendous compromises involved.”

“Every game ships with compromises. Some games that we celebrate as the greatest things of all time, if you actually analyse them from a developer’s point of view, you can see the compromises that were made. You can also feel the difference between the visionary’s attempt and the result that shipped.”

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Pitchford was even brave enough to mention some of the greats, highlighting that every single one of them isn’t without fault.

“I played Ocarina of Time on the original N64 and it’s one of my favourite games of all time,” said Pitchford. “But there’s no getting around the fact that that thing had 2MB of RAM. And those textures and surfaces are very simple shapes and washed out. You know in the creators’ minds that it was vivid and perfectly beautiful.”