Randy Pitchford: THQ Shouldn’t Have Taken On Call Of Duty With Homefront

Randy Pitchford: THQ Shouldn’t Have Taken On Call Of Duty With Homefront
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I don’t remember Randy Pitchford ever being so talkative. Maybe the kerfuffle that was Duke Nukem Forever brought out the Gearbox CEO’s chatter side. More likely, we’re just writing about him more and today, I won’t be doing my part to end the cycle. Pitchford recently gave his opinion on THQ’s attempt to push Activision’s Call of Duty around with Homefront.

Speaking to Gamasutra, Pitchford says that tackling the behemoth series head-on was not “the best strategy”. THQ obviously could see the delicious cash pie sitting in the oven of the FPS genre and wanted a bite, but the CEO says it should have gone about snatching a slice in a smarter, not bigger, way:

To compete with Call of Duty, he said, “you really have to go for it. You really have to spend a lot. You have to not only out brute-force the market leader, but out-clever them. The game has to be better, the marketing and production better have to be… Everything has to be bigger and better.”

Pitchford can stand behind his words — Gearbox’s own Borderlands is a shooter, but it brings a lot more to the table, including a Diablo-like mentality, enough that you would hardly put it side-by-side with Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3. I dare say they appeal to different types of gamers — I couldn’t give a stuff about the next CoD, but I played the hell out of Borderlands and will likewise give the sequel a good workout.

To THQ’s credit, it has put this “do it smarter” advice into practise previously with Red Faction: Guerrilla and Saints Row: The Third. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t capitalise on or repeat these successes.

Chasing Call of Duty was Homefront’s folly, says Gearbox boss [Gamasutra]


  • In what way was Saints Row 3 done smarter…It was considerbly shorter then the prior installments . Lost the balance 2 had with crazy and meaningful writing. Lacked the interesting gangs from 2 and interesting characters. Writes out a popular character for no reason and even lacks the more enjoyable minigames from 2. What is going on with video games these days with creating inferior sequels. Think Fable > 2 and 3, Saints row 1,2 > 3, Cod 4 MW > 2,3. Dragon Age Origins > DG2…List list goes on and on. Gaming needs creative sequels for a change or new IP’s. Hopefully Halo 4, Splinter Cell Blacklist, Assassins Creed 3 and other will start to improve sequels.

    • I can’t speak about what it had lost, but with SR:TT as my first Saints Row game, I really really enjoyed the hell out of it.

      • The first game was an absolute blast, and the second was like its predessesor but with more content, but buggy coop. Saints row 3 was like saints row 2, but with less content and not as enjoyable as 1. Anyone remember in the first saints how you could actually rob a store by aiming at the clerk and taking them back to the safe? And also the drugs, they made everything a lot more fun 😛

    • Making it shorter is actually one of it’s strengths – I’m still trying to finish GTA IV several years after buying it – there’s a limit to how much game you need to put in there – replayability can come from the multiplayer.

      • That’s a very subjective claim, while a game can be ‘too long’ sure, at what point that is will differ person to person. I find a lot of current games disappointingly short, and Lords of Shadow, which most people rag on for being way too long, impressed me with being the first game in a long time to give a satisfying amount of content without any DLC to artificially lengthen the experience.

        • The game was fun. No mission was repeated ad nauseum unlike 2 where there were multiple race missions. In 3 each mission was an individual style. In 1 and 2 you had gang locations for missions where you had to destroy their warehouses, these were very repetitive. 2 fixed this a bit but it was still quite tedious, 3 fixed this a lot. 3 was the most fun out of all the SR games because it was so dickish and over the top.

  • I feel it was done smarter in regards to the target market and game style. The GTA series originally was a sandbox/playground kind of game, but has been gradually become more story and character focused.

    Saints Row 3 capitalised on this and aimed to fill the niche that GTA left, and it arguably did that very well.

    • GTA hasn’t changed much at all since Vice City. Quality maybe, Vice City, San Andreas and GTA 4 have the same general story layout. Saints Row two set up Saints Row to be the francise that did everything and did it better then gta. Craziness/over the top humour, Well written story with emotional and disturbing moments, sandbox and exploration elements and a pick your pathway story. The direction SR 3 went in may appeal to the younger demographic but does not strike accord with adult gamers. GTA 5 doesn’t even need to be good to destory SR as a francise now and from what I’ve seen GTA 5 is going to be good. GTA may not provide everything but what it does provide it does well. SR 2 was a game that did nearly everything bar multiplayer well. SR 3 is a game that does very few things well and shows that the direction THQ wants for the francise isn’t on the GTA level like SR 2 lead myself and others to believe.

      • SR 2 may have been in competition with GTA, but as GTA is doing a superior job at story telling, THQ wisely decided that the would focus on the other aspect of the genre, crazy stunts and juvenille gags, and succeeded admirably at it.

        SR 3 is indicative of the new direction the series is heading, and as such, while belonging to the same genre as the GTA series, offers a different experience; GTA offering a sandbox with focus on plot, and SR a sandbox about blowing shit up and punching people in the nuts.

        They have different target markets, which was a smart move by THQ because, as you said, it can’t compete with GTA’s story. However, with the series new direction, it doesn’t have to.

        • Saints row 2 has a far superior story then GTA IV and you even get to choose which order you want to do the story in. The issue I have with Saints Row 3 is that THQ quit early on the direction, SR 2 was a great game because it did everything and did it well. On top of this it had balance between the crazy dildo moments and the heart stopping character death moments. Saints Row 3 is shorter, less refined, over teh top in a bad way and less funny then SR2. SR3 may of been popular to some however I find it’s more amoung players that were new to the francise and had not played 1 or 2.

          • Ah I misunderstood what meant. You felt SR 2 was amazing, and so are disappointed in the new direction.

            Most reviewers gave SR 2 a favorable rating, but it wasn’t because of the plot. They liked the focus on madcap antics and open world fun.

            If you liked the story, then more power to you, but that isn’t why most people, including myself, were buying the game; they simply wanted to blow shit up.

            SR and GTA could be competitors, but it’s a smarter decision to offer something unique than try and compete with a well established product. Now they can co-exist peacefully, and everyone gets what they want.

          • Most reviews I’ve come across were negative or neutral to SR3 however you may be refering to IGN or something along those lines. I am yet to come across somebody that has played SR2 and doesn’t think it’s awesome and many SR fans are disappointed with the new direction for the reasons I specified. SR2 story was well designed and interesting and gave the entire game some substance and amplified the enjoyable minigames and side missions again most people that have experienced the game would agree with this. If you just want to blow something up play cod, I hear that game has tunnel vision on that area to the neglect of anything else.

  • borderlands isn’t that great. honestly. it’s the same thing over and over. i liked it, got bored quickly though.bordemlands2 looks exactly the same – Homefront looks like some kind of cod meets battlefield (nothing new there). blops2 actually looks refreshing

    • I got terribly bored with Borderlands after 5 hours of gameplay. Even though I bought it on special (20 dollars or something), I was still very disappointed.

      • You know what would make Borderlands better IMO:
        a) Drop the COD control scheme, specifically B to duck as I’m used to the Battlefield right stick controls nowadays
        b) Have a faster inventory system
        c) Use the BF control scheme for driving, the control scheme they use in borderlands is like Halo but not very well tuned
        d) cut the endless walking, I was playing the game with a friend the other day and the sheer amount of trekking all over the map just to turn in from a mission was painful.

        Having said all that, other aspects of the game are a lot of fun and I appreciate the intricate levelling system they’ve worked into the game.

        • All of your concerns are addressed in the BL2, fully remappable controls, streamlined turning in of missions and better inventory/menu UI.

          hence, why BL2 is probably going to be GOTY for me.

      • More like BORINGLANDS amirite?

        Folks that didn’t like SR3 can chose not to buy SR4. S43 is all about having fun. The game is a blast . Many games these days have become serious and that’s fine but sometimes you want to have fun.

        To the author of the article, your last sentence makes no sense when put into the context that SR3 came out AFTER HF. Someone that didn’t known better (clearly you didn’t do your research prior to writing the article)

  • It’s funny because didn’t they then screw up red faction Armageddon. ie not smarter.

    And while saints row 3 was enjoyable it was a significant downgrade from previous installments.

    But maybe that was budget smarter as opposed to delivering a better game smarter

  • After lying his way through the Duke Nukem PR time (12 HOURS OF GAMEPLAY, SUPER MODERN, AWESOME GRAPHICS, MOD TOOLS WILL HAPPEN, SECRET LEVELS, LIKE 30 GUNS!) he should probably learn to not talk shit.

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