'Endless movie tie-ins are the death of gaming'

How important do you think systems like Steam are becoming?

It's not just about getting rid of the middle-men - it's also about being able to do stuff we've never been able to do before. With Half-Life 2: Episode One, we were able to add software that lets us see where the game is breaking, where people are getting stuck, where people are dying. We can use everyone who's playing the game as a way of finding out where the game isn't working right.

Plus, being able to communicate with the people who play your games is really big. We can see when Steam crashes on anyone's PC and we can track that - so we can see, "God, we've got 30 crashes all of a sudden, what's going on? Oh, somebody's released a new display driver, that's what's causing the problem." We can get an update out before most customers even know there's a problem.

Above: Owners of Half-Life 2and its expansion episodesbenefit from a regular stream of updates and new content

Do you think Steam-style systems are the way forward?

Every game needs to have a system so that it can talk back to the developer, so that the developer can solve a customer's problems. It doesn't matter whether you're selling a box or a download, you need that mechanism to address problems.

Ben Richardson is a former Staff Writer for Official PlayStation 2 magazine and a former Content Editor of GamesRadar+. In the years since Ben left GR, he has worked as a columnist, communications officer, charity coach, and podcast host – but we still look back to his news stories from time to time, they are a window into a different era of video games.