Valve’s CEO Gabe Newell recently announced that he believes Linux will be the future of gaming and that Valve will be at the forefront of the battle to have Linux accepted in the gaming community.
Valve is also expected to announce a Linux-based “SteamBox” to compete with consoles, offering hardware that will be good enough to play games available on the Steam client.
“The next step … is to release some work we’ve done on the hardware side. Next week we’re going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities we see for bringing Linux into the living room,” said Newell.
Speaking at the 2013 Linux Foundation’s North American Linuxcon, Newell said that gaming was moving towards an open platform and that the reason why Linux isn’t more loved is because of the lack of AAA titles. Newell was a keynote speaker for the opening day of the expo, which aims to bring Linux developers together to discuss the future of the platform.
Newell further explained that the economics behind games are changing. “Games are becoming nodes in a linked economy where the majority of digital goods and services are user generated, rather than created by companies,” he said. Newell pointed to Team Fortress 2 as an example, with an active community creating more than ten times the digital content a dedicated team would be capable of.
“Developers and publishers need to realise that there’s no way that they can beat the content of an active community. Companies simply don’t realise it’s the gamers, and not the developers, who are calling the shots,” he added.
Later on in the speech Gabe touches on Windows and how the Microsoft Store changes things for the gaming industry. He believes that Windows 8 and the Store was not a good idea. “Platforms are becoming more controlled, the software developer market is controlled, the content is controlled, and so is the pricing. These companies should have embraced open platforms instead of proprietary retail models.”
While the PC market has been in a noticeable decline over the years, Steam has seen year-on-year growth without signs of slowing down, enjoying a 76% overall usage and sales boost compared to last year.
On Linux’s existence in the desktop space, Newell was frank. “The Linux desktop is painfully small for the gaming market. It’s insignificant by pretty much any metrics — players, players minutes, revenue — it’s typically less than 1 percent. But open-source programs are accelerating faster than proprietary systems. The console guys are not as competitive and proprietary systems generally move a lot slower in terms of improvements,” he said.
But Gabe remains positive about the future of gaming on Linux and highlights Steam’s native client and the porting of several hundred games for the platform as the beginnings of oncoming change.