Thursday, July 26, 2012

Valve's Gabe Newell says 'Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone', and more

Big daddy at Valve, Gabe Newell, had some very interesting points to say at Casual Connect conference, including the the quote above in the title.

He made a rare appearance at the conference actually.

Newell has spent 13 years working on Windows, and besides video games he is not know that much.

Valve is not only a game developer, producing megahits like Portal 2, it owns and operates Steam, which is the largest consumer-focused digital games distribution platform in the industry. By some measures, it may be valued at $3 billion.

Last night, at a dinner sponsored by Covert & Co., Google Ventures and Perkins Coie, Newell unveiled some of his most quirky and secretive projects in an interview onstage with Ed Fries, former VP of game publishing at Microsoft.

Newell, who has a desk on wheels to check out all of the companies projects, had a hard time putting what he thought about Microsoft and Apple moving into their closed ecosystems. At one point, he even lamented that his presentation skills aren't up to speed because Valve isn’t a public company.

Below are some responses Newell had on some of the questions/topics that were asked.

Open vs Closed Source Platforms

“In order for innovation to happen, a bunch of things that aren’t happening on closed platforms need to occur. Valve wouldn’t exist today without the PC, or Epic, or Zynga, or Google. They all wouldn’t have existed without the openness of the platform. There’s a strong tempation to close the platform, because they look at what they can accomplish when they limit the competitors’ access to the platform, and they say ‘That’s really exciting.’”
“We are looking at the platform and saying, ‘We’ve been a free rider, and we’ve been able to benefit from everything that went into PCs and the Internet, and we have to continue to figure out how there will be open platforms."

Valve and Linux

“The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don’t realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior.

We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It’s a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality."

If you didn't know already, Valve is in the plans of porting Steam over to Ubuntu, giving Linux a taste of mainstream gaming. When this happens, Windows users will no longer be required to use that platform, because now they would have choices. Steam for Linux is already in the works, with Valve hiring some Linux engineers and people along those lines.