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Video: Gabe Newell's PC-centric vision of video games' future
February 7, 2013 | By Kris Graft

February 7, 2013 | By Kris Graft
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More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing, Video



For the second time this week, Valve Software boss Gabe Newell took the stage Thursday to talk about the next steps for his company, and perhaps the industry.

Newell's DICE 2013 keynote focused on two aspects: That the PC ecosystem is going to expand into the living room, and that there will be significant sea change of what we consider a video game.

"The PC has been the center of innovation in video games," said Newell, whose company is effectively built on the PC platform. MMOs, browser games, streaming games and other technologies have leveraged the openness of the PC.

"There's no evidence at all that innovation is slowing down," said Newell. There are three specific PC-to-living room elements right now that Newell and Valve are paying close attention to: In-home streaming, the PC in a console form factor and the continuing fact that the PC can scale really well.

Of course, Valve is actively taking part in all of the aspects of the PC-to-living room movement. Initiatives such as the TV-friendly Steam Big Picture Mode and Valve's work with the Steam box reflect the PC strategies that Newell outlined.

And then there is also Valve's continuing focus on the open Linux operating system. "[Linux] is something that we're going to continue to expand on," said Newell. "It's sort of a get out of jail free pass for our industry, if we need it," he added -- a not-so-subtle reference to Windows 8 and its move toward a closed ecosystem.

One thing that Newell isn't so optimistic about is cloud gaming, stating that he is still skeptical of it due to issues such as latency.

"I have been and continue to be a skeptic about [cloud gaming]," he said. "...I think there is a place for cloud gaming, but more for demos and spectating."

Living room PC games aside, Newell said Valve is readjusting the fundamental way that it approaches video games. "We think there is going to be a fairly significant sea change of what we think a game is."

That sea change focuses on putting players first, not only as consumers, but as content creators. He said as professional game developers, Valve wants to think that it is the best at creating content. But now that Valve has, in some aspects, handed over the reigns of content creation to its community, the company has found out that it just can't compete with its players.

"Our customers have defeated us, not by a little, but by a lot" when it comes to building content, said Newell.

Newell said even using Valve's Steam store should be much more entertaining than it is today. And again, the answer to this might lie with customers, as he mentioned that Steam users should be able to curate and present the content that exists on Steam. "A store should be a piece of user-generated content," said Newell.

Whether it's making games or distributing them, the focus for Valve going forward is going to be how it can provide the framework for its customers to be entertained, and to make entertainment. Games are goods and services that are part of a large economy. For Newell, the next step is to expand that economy.

"Economies get better the bigger they are," he said.


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