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

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.

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Rachel Weber avatar
Rachel Weber: Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.
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