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Windows 8 is "kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space" says Gabe Newell

Windows 8 is "kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space" says Gabe Newell

Wed 25 Jul 2012 8:33pm GMT / 4:33pm EDT / 1:33pm PDT
PeopleDevelopment

Valve 'boss' talks about the changing PC landscape, admits mobile possibility and looks to future

A changing landscape for the gaming industry is a major reality for today's developers and publishers. Valve's Gabe Newell, who runs one of the largest distribution systems in gaming, is someone that knows his industry, and he believes that things are going to get even more hectic in the next couple of years.

"I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space," said Newell to former Microsoft Game Studios head Ed Fries in a Casual Connect talk, as he espoused Linux and noted that he hopes it thrives. "I think that we're going to lose some of the top-tier PC [original equipment manufacturers]. They'll exit the market. I think margins are going to be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, it's going to be a good idea to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality."

"But when you start thinking about a platform, you have to address it. You have to address mobile. You have to look at what's going to happen post-tablet. If you look at the mouse and keyboard, it was stable for about 25 years. I think touch will be stable for about 10 years."

Newell goes on to add that the industry is in something of a shift, postulating that touch screen and tablets are simply a means to an end in gaming. There are more than simply touch-based and motion-based control schemes that are plausible in the near future; what it comes down to is how developers solve the question of creating an easy interactive solution between game and gamer.

"The two hard problems in the short-term are input and output," he offered. "But the question you have to answer is, 'How can I see stuff overlaid in the world when you have things like noise?' You have weird persistence problems. How can I be looking at this group of people and see their names floating above them? That actually turns out to be an interesting problem that's finally a tractable problem."

The future is going to be something 'expressive,' Newell suggests, saying that gamers will be using more bodily motion in the generations to come. "I do think you'll have bands on your wrists, and you'll be doing stuff with your hands."

"Your hands are incredibly expressive. If you look at somebody playing a guitar versus somebody playing a keyboard, there's a far greater amount of data that you can get through the information that people convey through their hands than we're currently using."

"Touch is…it's nice that it's mobile. It's lousy in terms of symbol rate."

27 Comments

Jeremie Sinic

43 18 0.4
After a quick check of the beta versio on PC, I can say I agree.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeremie Sinic on 26th July 2012 12:27am

Posted:2 years ago

#1

David Spender Lead Programmer

129 54 0.4
One of the best quotes ever. I have been using Windows 8 since the consumer preview (a few months) and I just cannot get used to it. I want to like it but as much as I pretend, my desktop is not touch-enabled. Metro is extremely cumbersome on anything but a tablet.
I've tried to take a step back, as I'm 'in the industry' and not an off-the-street-consumer, but I think people are going to be very confused.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
Yeah, I'm certainly interested in a Windows 8 (not RT) tablet, but I doubt my home computer (the one I do most of my gaming on) will ever see that upgrade.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
So many people on straight-up gaming forums are the same. Everything from the UI to the embedding of G4WL is a turn-off. Honestly, Win7 does absolutely everything that a gamer needs, and with XP support phased out a few months back, MS practically forced everyone to upgrade to 7. No gamer is going to choose Win8, now. Maybe in a few years, but by then MS will be working on Win9, and Win7 will be supported for years to come, so why bother with 8.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
Ha ha, that headline is such a progammer kind of statement.

But I'm compelled to ask, as a guy that bought a whole new PC (to add to my dozen or so others) just to do gaming (which in my little world means running Steam), if you're so big on Linux, where's the freaking Linux client for Steam? I know we've got some functionality (such as purchases) available via the web, but I've never been able to add a friend or see my inventory via the web interface, though the buttons to do that are there. And there's no chat at all.

What would be totally cool would be something from Valve I could just install on one of my many Linux boxes and get not only Steam, but enough DOS/Windows emulation to play at least older games such as Fallout 1.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Is Win8 the new Vista? A technology jump that will take another iteration to get smoothed out to something people like.
MS are moving to using a common kernel across mobile, tablet, desktop and living room. This has the potential to reap huge advantages, especially when combined with the cloud. However it is a very big step, and a very difficult one too.

Certainly, as Morville says, the market may decide that 7 is the new XP, a de facto standard that does what most people want it to do.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
For me, I'm a bit conflicted about this. Yes, the Win8 interface sucks for non-touchscreen devices, but that does seem to be the way that technology is moving. For the vast majority of surf-web-and-check-email users, a tablet or phone makes far more sense than a desktop PC. If they ever need to do any serious typing then a laptop-with-a-touchscreen will do the job. I think Gabe's right in saying that the bottom is about to fall out of the mass-market desktop outfit.

For power users (like most of us here I would imagine) maybe we will have to move to Linux to get a decent desktop environment, maybe the artists and designers have to go back to Macs. Maybe office workers will move to VM or the cloud. It seems a but dumb of MS to drive a chunk of its users away if that's what happens, but they must have thought of all of this, surely? Or are the numbers too small to factor into their calculations?

I mean, you must be able to turn that interface off, right?

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
Just wait until they bring a new direct x along that is windows 8 only. Then games will slowly become exclusive to that version of DX, and you will be forced to use win8 even if you dont want to. It was the main reason I made the jump from XP to 7.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Andrew Lee Pearson Studying Game Designer, Train2Game

24 1 0.0
Windows 8 is "kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space"?
I see no evidence to back this up.

I got my Game Jam details on Monday and installed Windows 8 Release Preview, and had a play around.

Yes it is a learning curve like anything new (we seem to be scared on new and see it as bad and evil), but after a few days of poking around and looking at the web tutorials on the Windows 8 site I am starting to really see its potential a unified Operating System.

Hopefully we will see developer tools that lets us create for all these platforms at the same time (not looked at the current tools yet so I don't know if we can yet or not?).

People are talking like it is the death of PC that's crazy been able to work across all platforms should actually help the PC, there are actually some features in Windows Phone 7.5 that I wish we could do with the PC and we can if implemented.

This is not another Vista this is Windows 7 with a Mobile device Front-end, yeah for those who don't know apart from the Start now looking like a Mobile device your not forced to use it just click desktop and work like its Windows 7. For me though I'm going to jump in there and try now to use the desktop where possible.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve

340 292 0.9
I wonder how much peoples opinions change when the see the upgrade price tag. Pretty sure it'll convert a lot of "maybe" to "hell yes".

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
Regardless of price tag, if people are dead set against upgrading, they won't until they have to. Alex is partially right about a new DX version helping - pc gamers didn't care about the first couple of DX10 games (Shadowrun and Halo), but if, say, a new Deus Ex debuted with a DX12 (something that was a real jump in quality) it would push a few gamers into upgrading.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship

191 300 1.6


Not to say that Valve won't make the transition successfully, just that I think they're right to be wary of what Win8 actually means for them.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Nick From my experience nothing Microsoft has produced in many years is simpler, easier, or more convenient than third party options lol. For that matter, their attempts at courting the PC audience have been nothing short of disastrous. Internet Explorer (though the latest version is finally useable), Bing, Zune, and, let's not forget, Games for Windows Live.... which hasn't been updated in what? 14 months?

You can't really think the fact that there's a little "market" button on the front of the Metro interface (you know, the part no desktop users will actually use whenever possible) is going to make people suddenly abandon a library of hundreds of Steam games or the value of Steam's environment and sales which Microsoft is not even close to just because it's "already on the computer." That strategy didn't exactly pan out for them with internet explorer now did it? And if anything people are more tech savvy than ever, and more aware of third party options that are better than Microsoft's systems.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship

191 300 1.6
Everything you've said is true, but if you're playing the part of the forward-thinking CEO, and you're looking ahead at Win8 - wouldn't you be at least *slightly* concerned at the possibility of MS turning Windows into an app-store style environment?

I don't think Valve really has much to worry about, but if I was thinking and planning ahead and I wanted to hedge against something, I'd hedge against MS trying to rig the game to funnel more sales through their own store, and I'd hedge against the decline of the platform in general as other hardware and software manufacturers desert the OS for more open pastures. That's all I'm saying.

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
@Nicholas: The plan is to 'encourage' everyone to switch to Metro, by fair means or foul. The obvious motive here is to cross promote WP8 & Win8 RT, neither of which support desktop mode apps, they seem to not care if that alienates power users.

The more subtle thing is only 1 version of Win8 (the corporate version normal users cannot buy) allows sideloading Metro apps. Use Metro, you're forced to use the Win8 app shop. That's what Gabe's pointing out, there will be no way for other markets to exist in the Metro world.

MS are trying hard to make sure you end up back in Metro regularly even if only using desktop mode - it's why the Start button had to go, why they removed any way to disable Metro. Why they'll wage a war on hackers trying to undo that butchery. For as long as MS believe they can transform Windows into a closed garden they will bugger up our experience till we all give in and accept Metro.

...problem is, Metro starts more buggered up as a power user experience than they can make desktop and still have it run at all!

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis

386 185 0.5
Not sure how Windows 8 could be "a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space". Windows Me was terrible and that didn't change PC gaming, Vista was poorly recieved (I personally liked it) and that didn't change PC's.

At least with Windows 8 you can disable Metro and use the normal layout of Windows.

I think Valve is more unhappy that Microsoft is building in their own store into Windows 8 and Valve is worried it will compete with Steam to some extent.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News

58 23 0.4
Newell doesn't like any OS with an embedded store. If he doesn't get his 30% cut, he's going to complain.

Linux as an alternative is laughable.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
Linux as an alternative is laughable.
I can't agree more with this. Linux is a horrible OS for the average user. It's an OS which seems to take pride in being difficult to use.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
I can't agree more with this. Linux is a horrible OS for the average user
That depends entirely on the front end - Metro makes Win8 a horrible OS for the power user. Average users do alright with Android, and that's Linux.

Metro is good for touch devices, most people will be using only touch devices in a few years. Power users have an alternative, and being power users they know how to use it. ^_^

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Craig Page Programmer

384 220 0.6
I don't think Steam has anything to worry about, based on how poorly Microsoft has run their Xbox and Phone marketplaces.

Everything in it will be overpriced, and stay overpriced for years except for the odd 50% off sale once or twice a year. Even when a physical copy of the game is in the $10 bin at walmart, it will still be $59.99 to download.

Or their Windows 8 marketplace could be more like their phone's. It would have a handful of good apps that you can never find, because of the 200,000 awful apps you have to scroll through first. And using their patented Bing search technology, no matter what you search for the results will have at least a couple flashlight apps near the top.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
Yeah, I honestly don't think Valve are saying this because of business concerns. If for no other reason than it would require MS to do a vast amount of work to make it friendly for consumers, and we all know that's not going to happen. :p

Also, for those wondering where Steam Linux is - they're working on it. It's just... y'know... Valve time. :(

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer

163 24 0.1
Regarding interfaces, isn't possible to switch to the classic mode as it used to be with older Windows versions?

Im now a mac user and I would say that Lion is doing the same, making my labtop looking like an iPhone... I love the iPhone but a computer is a computer, and my screen isn't tactile,

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Hugo Dubs on 26th July 2012 7:46pm

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer

576 320 0.6
Enough with this technology upheavel shit.

Maybe Linux IS the best way forward. A slick OS for Linux. Instead of having to shell out more $$$ for an OS every time you buy a new motherboard.

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
Regarding interfaces, isn't possible to switch to the classic mode as it used to be with older Windows versions?
As far as I am aware Microsoft is quite keen on forcing you to use metro at some level.

- OS is required to boot into metro first before you can switch to the dekstop
- Start menu is entirely absent and replaced with metro (which is very badly sorted)

They seems to be squashing any registry hacks and 3rd party solutions that re-introduce the start menu or bypass metro.

I just don't understand where they got the impression that a mobile phone friendly UI would ever be the right choice for the desktop. The fact that metro is enforced on business and server editions only makes it more laughable.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Andrew on 27th July 2012 1:29pm

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
I agree with Alex. They can't possibly think that this will be well-received, especially in the business sector... you know, the one that kept using XP for years after the superior Windows 7 just because change is expensive. There's no way they're going to be willing to play with Windows 8's silly features.

Personally I think they should have skipped Windows RT entirely, and just released Windows 8 with metro for tablets and Windows 8 without Metro for desktops, but that would have been allowing their users too much freedom.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
@Alex O'Dwyer: the mistake you're making is assuming this is about the desktop. It's not.

Win8 is all about Metro. Metro on WP8. Metro on tablets. Nudging ordinary users to want a Win8 tablet, a WP8 phone, a Win8 <insert new gadget here>. They don't really want anyone using the desktop because that doesn't cross promote new markets but can't afford to completely remove it yet. Just keep kicking users over into Metro. Eventually they hope to milk PC users in a walled Metro garden just like the other devices.

MS already know business won't be moving to Win8 any time soon, probably skipping it entirely so they aren't wasting real effort on it. They think they can afford to be careless as they hack desktop away in favour of Metro.

Ordinary users will take what they're given as usual, MS are normally more circumspect about abusing this market reality by providing legacy modes but Win8 isn't about the desktop and this time they want to push people away from it.

MS forget that they didn't get this big just through shady, sometimes illegal business practices. They had a de facto standard anyone could work with in a world where a bad standard is better than no standard. This time they have just the shady business practices in a world with 2 very successful existing standards. They're pissing off a lot of people for very wrong reasons.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Riccardo Meggiato journalist

1 0 0.0
[above all the words you can spend about W8] Nobody sees a link between these quotes from Newell and the launch of non-game-apps-support for Steam? :)

Posted:2 years ago

#27

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