Over the last two months at CES and his lecture at University of Texas, Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve, has talked about his ideas on everything from the Steam box to the future of PC gaming. At DICE Summit 2013 during the second day keynote on Feb. 7th, 2013, Newell pieced together all of those talks into 37 minutes of what can only be described as a journey through the center of Valve.
Newell's first point of focus was to talk about how he feels the PC is closer than ever before at moving into the living room like an Xbox or a Roku is now. Newell went over a lot of the details at CES 2013 when talking with The Verge. He again mentioned the Steam box and his good, better, best model ranging from streaming from your PC to the TV all the way to a high end gaming PC. He then moves on from his talk at CES to his lecture at the University of Texas where he discusses the biggest competitor in the living room which is Apple. He talked about how the development structure for Apple is great for developers because when a new device comes out, they don't have to learn a whole new way to develop for the platform and that's how Newell views PC gaming.
Away from the hardware side of PC gaming, Newell feels as if "there's going to be a fairly significant sea change in what we think a game is." The biggest change he feels "an exchange of digital goods and services," when it comes to digital content. He views these games a productivity software due to the ability the Steam Workshop gives users. They can create anything they want inside of the games they love, share it with everyone on the internet, and sometimes even sell it. "When we take that content and let people sell it to each other... we have people who are making $500,000 a year selling content in the [Steam] Workshop," said Newell. The user generated content he says outpaces that of any studio by 10 fold and that Valve likes to compete with other studios, but cannot even come close to compare to their customers. Taking the idea of a video game that has unlimited expandability, he turns to Adobe Photoshop and explains that this should also be a "Free-To-Play game". Creating a digital image is the same thing as building a hat in "Team Fortress 2" is the point that Newell is trying to make and feels that developers and people in general need to see some of these games as.
With all of the digital content being generated by users, the next step for Newell is to find a way to create a central base of virtual currency to provide value to the content that users generate that expand beyond the single game it was originally designed for. "If there's no way to exchange good and services in DOTA 2 for goods in Skyrim, it's a global failure," says Newell. Comparing this to when your ready to move to a new house, you burn the old one and don't make any profit on it is what Newell compares the current structure of virtual goods in specific video games. Beyond the digital items created in each game, Newell also feels that supporting the pro players that play games like DOTA 2 are also a service or a product. Allowing players to sponsor the teams they support similar to that of the NFL or NBA. It seems that Newell wants to take the real life economics and turn it into a virtual environment where content is a product and can be traded or sold just like in the real world.
Newell's vision of gaming and the future sounds amazing and Valve is a company that has the freedom and the creative strength to push this type of economy. If you missed his keynote you can watch it now on Youtube.
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