Reclusive Valve boss and mighty beardsman Gabe Newell spoke with The Verge in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show today, sharing precious additional details on the studio's Steam Box hardware project. Among other topics, Newell discussed his interest for biometric control setups, the "giant sadness" of Windows 8, and the changes to Valve's game design structure. Oh, and Half-Life 3. (Just kidding about that last part, but we saw you jump a little in your chair.)
Gabe Newell appears to have confirmed rumours that Valve are working on a "Steam Box" - a hardware package designed to bring the PC right to the living room. Talking to Kotaku on the red carpet at the VGAs, Newell said that the response to Big Picture mode was "stronger than expected" and that this, combined with the ongoing push into Linux, gave Valve a lot of flexibility when it came to designing their own living room-friendly hardware.
"This is like if Gabe Newell took acid..." is (the decent half of) one gamer's apt description of Half-Mind, a Half-Life 2 mod released in 2009 which was recently given a boost back into the disco spotlight via a gameplay video by YouTuber "vinesauce." A quick jaunt to Half-Mind's Mod DB entry reveals a terse mission statement of bringing Valve's magnum opus "to the brink of hilarity." It's easy imagining Gordon Freeman's struggles through the Combine's tyrannical grip on City 17 juxtaposed with an insatiable need to make everyone get down and party.
A New York Times report published last weekend discussed Valve's unorthodox structure and employee handbook in the wake of the studio jumping into hardware production. According to an anonymous source in the report, competitor and partner EA once eyeballed Valve for a possible purchase valued at over $1 billion, but Gabe Newell says the company would "disintegrate" before being sold.
Join Tyler, Logan, Evan, and T.J. as they stab silence in the heart with talk of PlanetSide 2, KOTOR II modding heroes, Steam's dominance, Windows 8, and the possibility that Gabe Newell is a time traveler. Plus, T.J. breaks up with WoW, Evan explores the fun mechanics of Counter-Strike, and new voices join in for a special edition of DayZ storytime.
PC Gamer US Podcast 323: Newell News
Tech blog All Things D reported on the recent appearance by Valve's Gabe Newell at the Casual Connect conference. He had some very interesting things to say about everything from open platforms to Windows 8 to computers you control with your tongue. Read on to be enlightened by the words of the Godfather of PC gaming.
Master of all things Valve, Gabe Newell, has been talking E3 plans. Sadly, they're not as exciting as you might have hoped before reading the headline.
CVG have highlighted a post on Valvetime which features words supposedly typed by the hands of Gabe himself: "We are not announcing anything at E3. Really. We are not announcing Half-Life 3 or Portal 3 or Left 4 Dead 3. We are going to be showing stuff everyone already knows about (CS:Go, Dota 2, 10' UI)"
After the recent leak of Valve’s employee handbook to the public, many in the business world have become curious about the ins and outs of the developer’s practices. Bloomberg Businessweek sat down with co-founder Gabe Newell to ask him, among other things, why he chose to organize Valve Corporation in such an unorthodox manner.
Newell told the publication that Valve categorizes employees by “individual” and “group” contributors, rather than by the traditional hierarchy of supervisors and subordinates.
Gabe Newell been talking about the Valve sequel everyone wants, Half Life 2: Episode 3, in terms of the Valve sequel no-one wants, Ricochet 2. With almost audible air quotes around each mention of a possible follow up to Valve's year 2000 disk-lobbing multiplayer arena title, Newell told Seven Day Cooldown that the silence surrounding the next Half-Life is intended to spare fans from the unpredictable "twists and turns" of Valve's iterative development style.
"We'd like to be super transparent about the future of Ricochet 2," said Newell, "but the problem is that the twists and turns that we're going through would probably drive people more crazy than being silent about it until we can be very crisp about what's happening."
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell gave his views on Origin in the first episode of the Seven Day Cooldown podcast, suggesting that EA's digital distribution service isn't close to challenging Steam. "They have a lot of work to do to get to way they want to be and where I as a customer would want them to be," he said.
"I don't think they're doing anything super well yet," he added. "They have a bunch of smart people working on it. I think they're still playing catch up to a lot of people who have been working in the space for a while. I think they're recognising what the challenges are with building and scaling out this kind of system."
"[DOTA 2] is going to be free-to-play. It'll have some twists, but that's the easiest way for people to think about it."
As reported by Polygon, that's what Gabe Newell had to say on a recent Seven Day Cool Down podcast. Valve's big wheel has already admitted to playing the MOBA for a staggering 800 hours, and now he's talking cash. Valve have already developed some interesting ideas on how to reward valued members of the community: the Team Fortress 2 workshop allows people to create in-game items, and make a significant profit if they sell. Now Valve are hoping to reward player's good behaviour too.
Remember the Steam Box that was rumoured to be announced at GDC? The one that was supposed to sit under your TV and use biometric signals to shape your games? We’ve been squeezing the truth out of Valve.
“Yeah, of course it’s a big story and obviously, it doesn’t surprise me that you asked the question.” said Doug Lombardi, Vice President of Marketing at Valve, when quizzed about its existence.
Forbes have published their latest list of the planet's richest people, and have declared Valve co-founder Gabe Newell the Newest Video Game Billionaire. Of the 1226 billionaires on the planet, Newell is the 854th richest with an estimated worth of $1.5 billion.
“If you’re not making your customers happy you’re doing something stupid,” says the new-look, full-bearded, Gabe Newell. Penny Arcade have been chatting with Valve’s managing director about his job, the state of PC gaming, and more. They also have an image of Gabe with a beard that we're not sure we can use yet, hence the artist's interpretation up there. EDIT: I've just got permission from The PA Report. Find the real-life beard embedded below.
Gabe even went into depth on DRM and how it affects game sales. He reckons intrusive measures can result in a false economy: “You know, it’s a really bad idea to start off on the assumption that your customers are on the other side of some sort of battle with you."
“We tend to try to avoid being super dictatorial to either customers or partners. Recently I was in a meeting and there’s a company that had a third party DRM solution and we showed them: ‘Look, this is what happens, at this point in your life cycle your DRM got hacked, right? Now let’s look at the data, did your sales change at all? No, your sales didn’t change one bit.’”
Valve have just announced that a Steam app is incoming for iOS and Android. It'll support chat, groups and screenshots. You'll even be able to purchase games when on the move.
Lord of Valve, Gabe Newell seems keen: "Seeing which of your friends are online and playing a game, sending quick messages, looking at screenshots for an upcoming game, or catching a sale - these are all features customers have requested. Mobile is changing way people interact, play games and consume media, and the Steam app is part of our commitment to meet customer demands and expand the service functionality of Steam to make it richer and more accessible for everyone."
Valve have just informed us that Steam's database has been compromised.
An IM is being sent out to all Steam users. Here are the details straight from Gabe:
"Our Steam forums were defaced on the evening of Sunday, November 6. We began investigating and found that the intrusion goes beyond the Steam forums.
We learned that intruders obtained access to a Steam database in addition to the forums. This database contained information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked."
Valve are investigating the situation. They mention that there's been no evidence of illegal credit card activity as yet, and that it's probably a good idea to change both your Steam passwords. To do that, access Settings from the Steam menu within the client.
Newell signs off his IM with sincerity: "I am truly sorry this happened, and I apologize for the inconvenience."
Steam joins a long list of high profile targets who have recently been targeted by hackers. Sony, Codemasters and Bioware have all taken the hit. Valve recently announced Steam Guard, designed to increase account security; Gabe even gave out his password to show off its true power. That makes us extra sad.
Click through for the IM in full.
This interview originally appeared in PC Gamer UK issue 232. Alternatively you can watch the video interview.
Valve are constantly surprising. One month they’re making one of their most popular games, Team Fortress 2, free to play, and the next they’re running a $1 million tournament for the upcoming Dota 2.
That makes any chance to speak to company co-founder Gabe Newell a pleasure, because you never know what you’re going to get. I sat down with him during the Dota 2 tournament to talk about his obsession with his company’s new game, his thoughts on EA’s Steam-rival Origin, and what motivates him to come into work each day.
We’ve already covered Valve co-founder Gabe Newell’s thoughts on Team Fortress 2’s lucrative decision to go free-to-play, but during the same talk Newell also spoke a little bit about the highly lucrative Russian games market. It seems that the country - which is notorious for high levels of piracy - is actually something of a nest (headcrab) egg for Valve.
“Russia now outside of Germany is our largest continental European market,” Newell was quoted as saying on Geekwire. Presumably this also means the UK is Valve’s largest continental European market, unless Pantelleria has a huge amount of PC gamers. But Newell’s statement also indicates that Russia eclipses France, Spain and Scandinavian countries in terms of profits.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell gave a fascinating insight into the pricing experiments Valve have been running with Steam at the WTIA TechNW panel in Seattle recently, revealing that Team Fortress 2's shift to free to play quintupled its player base.
During the course of the seven minute aside, covered on Geekwire, Newell also revealed that the conversion rate of the number of free players who go on to buy something is "20 to 30 percent" for Team Fortress 2, much higher than the 2-3% conversion rate seen by other free-to-play games.
Newell said that he thinks the announcement of Team Fortress 2 as a "free-to-play" game, and not just outright "free" was part of TF2's successful shift of payment model, perhaps underestimating the power of the raw, uncontrollable human drive to acquire and hoard sweet new hats.