Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford has addressed criticisms levelled at him and his team, calling his critics "sadists" in the process. He made the comments during a keynote speech at the Develop conference in Brighton.

Pitchford has been at the centre of numerous controversies, most famously the debacle surrounding Aliens: Colonial Marines – a first-person shooter that was met with disastrous reviews and accusations of false advertising, with pre-release gameplay footage looking very little like the final product.

"If you're making entertainment on a grand scale, if you're reaching millions, there will be tens of thousands of people who absolutely hate us, and some percentage of those will take it upon themselves to let us known how they feel," he said, as reported by The Guardian.

"I read it in this way: we moved those people, we touched them – even the person who hates [your game] so much, you've affected them. That's why we fight, we're creating emotion and experience – and some people thrive on that type of feeling, some people are sadists."

Pitchford then likened criticism in creative industries to building sandcastles on a beach.

"There is always the person who's got to stand on the sandcastle, they must crush it," he said. "That's their way of relating to that. It's typically a less sophisticated mind. There's a dark part of us all that likes the idea of crushing a sandcastle, but most of us will respect it and let it be. That's why we like playing video games where we can blow stuff up and no one gets hurt."

Gearbox Software's next game will be Battleborn, an first person shooter and multiplayer online battle arena game targeting a release late this year or early next.

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