Valve on bringing the PC to E3

Portal 2

E3 is still the biggest noisiest industry event of the gaming calendar. Before the show has even started the big console developers hold marathon press conferences for some vigorous tub-thumping about upcoming releases.

While a lot of the E3 showings are made up of loud noises, hot air and hype, it would be nice to have a way to celebrate PC gaming's brightest and best on a big stage. With no single representative to put a show together, the PC loses out.

We discussed this exact topic with Valve's Doug Lombardi recently, mulling over the idea of a more mellow event that could be shared between some of the world's biggest PC developers.

"If you saw Gabe's DICE speech about three or four years ago, his keynote there? He basically gave an update on where we were and where we saw the PC going and what trends we thought were interesting and it was probably 35-40 minutes," he said. "Something like that might be something that would be cool. I think that maybe having someone maybe like Blizzard there, maybe someone like Nexon there, could be an interesting thing."

The event wouldn't be a huge, celebrity laden gig. "You know, we've talked about that a bit and I think what that looks like, maybe, is us not doing the shock and awe thing at the Galen centre or whatever, vis-a-vie the console guys where you have three thousand people in there and we have to hire some star to make it interesting or we're going to waste your time for two hours."

"'Waste' is a little bit harsh, but anyway, we don't want to burn your time for two hours."

Nothing has been arranged yet. Valve are still putting together their E3 plans, but if any company was going to push for a unified PC showing at E3, Valve would be a good candidate. Lombardi talked about where Valve place themselves in the PC gaming landscape. He described how Valve set up Editor's Days a few years ago to explain why the PC isn't dead, and talked about Valve's motivations for creating Steam.

"We've always felt a responsibility to our audience - we're PC gamers first and we love PC games so we've always wanted to do that," he said. "I mean we've built Steam because nobody else was doing it and we built it as solid as we'd need to make PC gaming better."

"But I think that's different from saying “We're the platform holder” right? And we always put the customer first, and that customer may be Joe Gamer living in Springfield, Illinois, or that customer might be the guys at CCP or that customer might be the Red Orchestra guys, Tripwire or Activision or whoever else, right?

"They're all our customers in one way, and we're serving those guys and trying to make their lives better on the gaming side, and their experience better on the gamer side, and we're trying to help the other guys make more creative things and obviously help the revenue where we can and help them get"

Lombardi describes Steam as a "nice set of middleware," built to make PC gaming more convenient. Once it was done and working, Valve decided to share it around. "Let's just give that to other developers so that we can get better games going” and keep PC gaming moving forward." Years later, Steam has 45 million registered accounts .

What do you think about the idea of a PC event at E3? Does PC gaming need a show? Who would you invite?

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.