Linux Gaming News

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell: Linux is a “get-out-of-jail free pass for our industry”

by Taylor Soper

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell just gave a 30-minute keynote at the DICE 2013 Summit in Las Vegas. He didn’t make any huge product or game announcements — sorry, Half-Life 3 fans — and rather focused on how Valve is re-thinking what games are and how you sell them.


You can watch the speech in full above (skip to 26-minute mark). Here are some of the main points he brought up:

  • He began by giving two main points: “The P.C. ecosystem is going to expand into the living room,” and that “the game business will increasingly be focused around building and exchanging digital goods and services.”
  • Newell said that the PC has struggled with input in terms of keeping up with devices like the Wii and iPad. But he did add that the PC has “really been the center of innovation in video games,” and that the PC already has a big ecosystem with lots of investment of other multimedia services like Hulu, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • He said that when Valve has moved its games to the free-to-play platform, they’ve seen a 10x increase in users and 3x increase in revenue. ”Photoshop should be a free-to-play game,” he added.
  • He talked a lot about user-generated content and the importance of it. Newell said Valve has people who are making $500,000 a year selling content in the Steam Workshop. “Years ago, a game’s content was privileged. Now we’re seeing users doing a better job of generating content than we are. It’s all about enabling that productivity and engagement.” He also thinks that users should be able to go in and create their own versions of stores that can sit on the front end of the Steam store.
  • He said that Steam for Linux gives people freedom to innovate on an alternate operating system. “It’s a get-out-of-jail free pass for our industry if we need it,” he said. We’ll assume that he’s referring to Windows there. It’s no secret that Newell is not a big fan of Windows 8.
  • He mentioned that Valve is developing console form-factor PCs — a.k.a. the Steam Box — much like the one shown off at CES last month.
  • Newell said he thinks there’s a place for cloud gaming in the future, but “not as a core architecture for delivering games to consumers.”
  • Newell did mention the threat of Apple. “I’m not so scared about consoles, but about Apple. They have device scale and a natural path to the living room.”

Yesterday, Newell was on stage and confirmed that he has plans to work on a ‘Half-Life’ and ‘Portal’ movie with director J.J. Abrams.

Newell has made headlines in the past few months with his theory of the gaming PC moving into the living room. Newell has discussed “stronger-than-expected” reactions to Steam’s TV-friendly “Big Picture” mode and said he expects PC companies to soon start selling computers designed to hook up to your TV and run Steam immediately.

Newell also said recently that Valve will build its own gaming computer, but added that its hardware package “will be a very controlled environment.”

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