Valve's Gabe Newell talks about the future of digital commerce and PC gaming
Valve's Gabe Newell went out to dinner at the Casual Connect conference, making a rare public appearance where he talked to former Microsoft VP of game publishing Ed Fries about Steam, Valve, Windows 8, wearable computers, and the future of digital distribution. In a room that was packed to the brim with industry veterans, Newell did his best to put into words how he feels about the future of gaming as we know it.
"We think the future is very different from successes we've had in the past. When you are playing a game, you are trying to think about creating value for other plays, so the line between a content player and a creator is really fuzzy. We have a kid in Kansas making about $150,000 a year making virtual hats. But that's just a starting point…this isn't about video games; it's about thinking about goods and services in a digital world."
Long story short? The free-to-play model and digital distribution as we know it now could well apply to more than just games, if things go the way Gabe is hoping. Newell also talked about closed versus open platforms, and his concern about the move by many organizations to try to close their platforms off from competitors.
"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 temptation to close the platform, because they look at what they can accomplish when they limit the competitors' access, and say 'that's really exciting.'"
"We've been a free rider," Newell continued, "and we've been able to benefit from everything that went into PCs and the Internet. We have to continue to figure out how there will be open platforms."
While he didn't really go into details, he also stated up front his opinion about Windows 8, Microsoft's latest iteration of the Windows operating system. "Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space." He said. "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."
Hence Valve's interest in Linux as a platform; its openness and free availability make it the perfect choice for Steam, should Windows 8 bork things up in the way Newell worries it might.
Newell also talked about post-touch (completely new input methods for the PC which will blow everyone's minds) and wearable PCs (he likes them).
Source: All Things D
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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