Valve's Newell hints at Steam Box announcement

September 17, 2013 | 09:06

Tags: #digital-distribution #gaben #gabe-newell #linux-gaming #steam-box #steam-for-linux

Companies: #apple #microsoft #open-source #steam #valve

Valve founder and chief executive officer Gabe Newell used his keynote speech at the Linuxcon event last night to talk up the future of gaming on the open-source platform, and to hint at a possible reveal of the company's Steam Box console to come next week.

Speaking at the event, Newell was effusive in his praise for Linux - hardly surprising, given that he has turned his company's attention on the platform after years of neglect as an apparent response for what he calls the catastrophe of Windows 8. As evidence, Newell pointed to the success of the Steam digital distribution platform, still officially in beta for Linux, which now boasts 198 games since its launch earlier this year.

Newell excoriated proprietary platforms including Microsoft's Windows and Apple's OS X, with particular focus on Apple's closed-ecosystem mobile platforms: according to Newell, it took Valve six months to get Apple to approve an allegedly simple update to a mobile app on iOS.

Despite Linux forming a tiny minority of Steam installs - under one per cent, according to the company's most recent hardware survey - Newell showed no signs that his interest in the open-source platform is waning. In particular, Newell claimed it formed an important cornerstone of what he claims is an emergent economy in gaming. 'Games are going to be nodes of an economy in which the vast majority of goods and services are user created,' he claimed, offering a shout-out to the Team Fortress community which he claims has produced more than 10 times the content of Valve's own developers.

'Valve, we're kind-of a cocky company. We like to think that we can compete with any company in the world, right? If we sat down and said let's have a competition with Bungie, or Epic, or Blizzard - we're friends with all of these guys, by the way - we'd say "oh we can take them, we're good at what we do."' claimed Newell. 'But the one we wouldn't want to compete with is our own users. They have already outstripped us, spectacularly, you can't compete with them once you give them the tools that allow them to participate in the creation of the experiences that they find are valuable.

'But there's this huge tension between if that's the direction that gaming is going, or if that's the direction content creation is going, these other [proprietary] systems actually put a tremendous number of roadblocks in the way of doing that.

The highlight of the speech for many, however, was a minor hint regarding the move of Linux into the living room - a mention which would appear to suggest Newell is planning on sharing his company's Linux-powered ultra-compact Steam Box platform in the very near future.

'You don't think of touch input, or game controllers, or living rooms as being things which require a completely different way for users to interact or acquire assets or developers to program or deliver to those targets,' Newell told attendees. 'Obviously, if that is the direction you are going in, Linux is the most obvious basis for that - and none of the proprietary, closed platforms are going to be able to provide that form of grand unification between mobile, living room, and desktop.

'Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room, and potentially pointing further down the road to how we can get it even more unified in mobile.

Newell's keynote speech is reproduced in full below.

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