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Valve wants Counter Strike Steamworks integration on XBL

But Microsoft still needs persuading to relax rules, says Gabe Newell

Valve boss Gabe Newell wants Steamworks integration built into the Xbox version of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, but has said that Microsoft must relax its restrictions on the service first.

Steamworks integration, including PC/PS3 cross-platform play, was included in the PS3 version of Valve's last game, Portal 2, but was absent from the Xbox version. Newell believes that Microsoft's acceptance of Steamworks is vital to achieve platform parity with future valve games.

"We certainly can deliver a lot of value to customers to the degree to which we have those capabilities," Newell told Eurogamer.

"The PS3, obviously we made a lot more progress with that. The PS3 customers of Portal 2 are going to start to see the benefits of that with Portal 2 DLC coming out in September. So we'd really like to be able to do that for Xbox customers as well."

Whilst the initial debut of Steamworks on console was marred by the hacking scandal which brought the PlayStation Network to its knees on the day of Portal 2's release, Newell is confident that it improves customer experience.

"The main thing is having Microsoft get comfortable with it and let us do it," Newell explained.

"Right now, there's a huge amount of updates and free content we've been able to deliver to people who have The Orange Box that we haven't been able to deliver to the Xbox because of the restrictions that have been placed on us on Xbox Live.

"We'd love to see those relaxed. Other developers on the PS3 are starting to benefit from Sony's more open approach. Hopefully that will help Microsoft see that's a good strategy for making customers happy, that the barbarians won't tear down the walls of Xbox and turn it into some chaotic wasteland."

One possible motivation for Valve is trying to engage customers with its fledgling microtransaction store, powered by the proprietary Steam Wallet. It is this system which Valve has been using to monetise the now free-to-play Team Fortress 2 on PC, allowing player trading and store-bought purchases. Whether the company has a similar model in mind for Counter Strike is unclear, but Sony has already set a precedent for free-to-play titles with its exclusive EVE Online tie-in from CCP, Dust 514.

"Let's just say that with Sony at least they have policies that allow us to build the game the way we want," CCP CTO Halldor Fannar told E3 in June. "That is one of the reasons why we've gone with PSN.

"Sony allows us to use our systems. Microsoft has Xbox Live. They're very strict on that. There are a lot of issues we run into. It may be a basic thing people don't realise, but with Dust and Eve on Sony's network, we can allow them to chat together. Voice chat, text chat, that's all one world.

"One of the reasons for the partnership with Sony is because they're opening up new ways to do these things. We're going to be managing most of it. We're using PlayStation just for credentials, stuff like that. Then it's all our stuff.

"With our agreement with Sony they seem to be fine with our three month expansion cycle. They've been looking at the MMO space for a while, trying to understand why something like that hasn't still happened on the console. They're coming to terms with it. There are certain things they have to relax just to allow these things to function."

Counter Strike: Global Offensive will be playable to the public for the first time in Europe at the Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court in London, 22-25 September, 2011.

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Dan Pearson

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