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Newell: "If we have to sell hardware we will"

Tue 21 Feb 2012 8:43am GMT / 3:43am EST / 12:43am PST
PeopleDevelopment

Valve MD shares views on hardware development, pricing and wearable computers

Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell has given a candid assessment of the current hardware market, and revealed that if no one else will make innovative hardware, Valve will.

"If we have to sell hardware we will," he told Penny Arcade.

"We have no reason to believe we're any good at it, it's more we think that we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that's what we'll do."

He admitted that the team would actually prefer that the people with the experience in building and shipping hardware were the ones doing it, but explained it was such a key issue to Valve that they might have to step in.

Intriguingly one of the areas that company had an interest in was wearable computers, but that it wanted to bring its own development style and openess to the process.

"We're thinking of trying to figure out how to do the equivalent of the [Team Fortress] incremental approach in software design and try to figure out how would you get something similar to that in the hardware space as well," he continued.

"The sort of old method of, you know, let's go make a giant pile of inventory and hope that some set of applications emerge to justify this giant hardware investment doesn't seem to be the - very consistent with what we've seen to be the fastest ways to move stuff forward, so we're trying to come up with an alternative to that that gives us the ability to iterate more rapidly."

The outspoken industry veteran also attacked the subject of pricing head on, and said free-to-play should be a wake up call to the industry. That allowing gamers to explore the world and pay their own way is often more successful than a fee just to enter it.

"Pricing is one of those things where a lot of people are still approaching it in almost a pre-Internet fashion instead of seeing that there's actually an opportunity to do a better job of delivering the right stuff to the right customer for the right combination of pieces."

In the interview Newell also spoke about rewarding engaging players with cheaper entry into a game, and his frustration at that lack of MMOs like World Of Warcraft on the traditional consoles.

Valve has recently moved into the mobile market with a beta release for its Steam app, and at the start of 2012 boasted a significant growth in Steam sales for the seventh year in a row.

13 Comments

K. Al-Hurby Producer/Designer

18 1 0.1
A Valve console? - Shut up and take my money!

Fanboy aside, am I crazy to think that they would actually succeed in that market? I'm taking Gabe with a pinch of salt, but the thought of a Valve cosnole sounds amazing.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Jonathan Doyle Writer

6 0 0.0
I too would like them to shut up and take my money.

The ARG/augmented reality implications of that are mouth watering.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,157 1,219 1.1
Now we have technologies such as Thunderbolt, which effectively turn PCI-Express into an outside bus. Modular Valve console ftw.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 21st February 2012 12:25pm

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Pier Castonguay Programmer

189 106 0.6
I was intrigued with the "Valve could make a console" part, but a wearable one? I'm not too fond of the idea of a augmented reality MMO, just give us what you excel at, good single player immersive campaigns of action games.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University

205 0 0.0
wearable computers.....

I do not think the tech is at that point yet. (ok, phones are computers but i thinking more powerful here)

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer

579 322 0.6
Valve doesn't have the culture to do this. You need an engineering culture. Valve's engineering is subpar (spoken as a person who has a few thousand hours using their Source SDK). They state on their Source engine wiki they are "making a new set of tools" - but you can't just make a new set of tools and then call it a day. You need a culture of continuous improvement - as Epic has demonstrated.

Valve's strength is more marketing and game design.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Andrew Green Programmer, Codemasters

3 0 0.0
Team Fortress + wearable computers = another way to sell us hats

Posted:2 years ago

#7
@Tim : continuous improvement from Epic often meant broken codebase for their customers. Still, The source SDK tools are indeed old/cluncky. But the steam client itself is a well designed piece of software.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Ruud Van De Moosdijk VP of Development, Engine Software

51 58 1.1
Strangely enough at the last Casual Connect in Hamburg every single company attending/speaking came to the same conclusion: Free-to-Play is disastrous for the games industry. Yet Gabe is saying we should do it more? Easy to say when you have Valve's bank account...Free-to-Play leads to no revenue and many, many companies will go bankrupt this year. That is my prediction, and if anyone remembers it on december 31st feel free to slap it in my face if I'm wrong :)

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Tamir Ibrahim Programmer, Rodeo Games

76 56 0.7
"Free-to-Play leads to no revenue"

For some this may be true (but then who is to say they would have made money by not being Free-to-Play?), but for others this is clearly false. Apart from the many handheld & facebook free to play games that have made plenty of money several online & MMO games which are alive today and making money would be dead in the water if they did not switch to Free-to-Play.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tamir Ibrahim on 22nd February 2012 11:11am

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Frankie Kang Producer / Consultant, First Post LLC

39 1 0.0
Valve PC + Half Life 3 Episode 3 = insta-buy!

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Sergio Rosa "Somewhat-Creative Director", Domaginarium

65 40 0.6
They'd need a lot of third party support for this. Valve takes forever to release a game and releasing a game for their console every other year is not exactly good business.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,611 1,473 0.9
One thing I'd like to point out: "making hardware" is not the same as "making a console". It may be that they're looking at input options - joypads/joysticks/mice. Certainly, the wearable computers concept is just as much about input as it is about running a game. And in this sense, I'd say Valve is the equal of Nintendo; they're looking for functionality that improves gaming, rather than just new hardware for the sake of it.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

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