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Valve: “If there's something useful, we'll give it away"

Gabe Newell on making sure that the PC ecosystem thrives

One of the big announcements at this year's GDC was Valve releasing a new version of its gaming engine Source, and that it would be giving it away for free. Now co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell has explained why the company made that generous decision.

"Developers need the freedom to try out stuff; that's how we've been successful," he told MCV.

"If there's something useful, we'll give it away. Somebody else will figure out another way to use it, as long as we treat it as a tool and not a straightjacket."

He also spoke about the concerns that Valve had as tech companies turned their attention to mobile phones, and away from traditional desktop PCs.

"It was like Microsoft saw the iPhone and said: 'We should make the PC more like that; people should have to go through us to have new ideas'. And we thought that sounded like a terrible idea. The iPhone should be more like the PC and the internet. Not the other way around.

"We were happy doing what we were doing but we felt that, for our own sake, we needed to make sure that the PC and PC gaming continue to exist and thrive."

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Latest comments (4)

Bradford Hinkle Associate Product Manager, Spicy Horse Games 3 years ago
If there's one thing you can never fault Valve for, it's having a strong vision.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 3 years ago
"and that it would be giving it away for free",uhm no it's not, at least not free in 'you can do whatever you want with it and publish whereever you want'.... You have to publish through steam (so that's definitly 30% of you gross going to them)..

And all Valve actually cares about is themselves (but ofcourse, it's a business), they will give everything away for 'free' as long as you make sure you use their steam so they can thrive from your product.... All valve cares about is getting as many people/developers dependant on steam, so they earn shitload of money...
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
"If there's something useful, we'll give it away.
Does this mean that Valve is going to be for sale soon too? I knew there was more to those Half-Life 3 Xbox One exclusive rumors than meets the eye.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
"and that it would be giving it away for free",uhm no it's not, at least not free in 'you can do whatever you want with it and publish whereever you want'.... You have to publish through steam (so that's definitly 30% of you gross going to them)..
Well, there's free, and then there's free. The 30% is actually a standard retail business cost, rather than a cost to purchase/lease/license, etc. Wherever you sold it through, there's that intrinsic cost (sometimes more, sometimes less), which is just the retailer taking their cut, like any store. The only place which doesn't have that built-in is itch.io, I believe. Or selling it yourself, but that has other intrinsic costs (Paypal commission/website/marketing, etc.).

In this sense, Valve and MS are running the exact same playbook - make things free, for the potential of (more) money later.

Also, whilst it's an unknown going forward, use of, say, Source, hasn't necessarily meant being on Steam - Look at Black Mesa, The Hidden: Source, or any other mod using Valve tech.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 21st March 2015 7:20am

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