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

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."

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Ben Strauss avatar
Ben Strauss: Ben Strauss is a recent graduate of Xavier University. You can see him ramble on about gaming, gamification, military-related gaming and manly things on his Twitter @Sinner101GR.
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