Earlier this month, Valve played host to a group of fans from website 4chan’s /v/ community at the company’s Washington studio. During an hour-long open question session, as reported by Valve community site LambdaGeneration, Newell provided candid answers on the Half-Life maker's business, the direction he believes the industry is moving in, and why he has no interest in exclusive content for Steam.
Newell began by setting the ground rules, asking fans, “So what do you want to know about that’s not Half-Life 3?” Attendees queried whether Valve is already at work on a successor for its Source engine, and, if so, whether any follow-up would be an update to the existing software, or a fully fledged replacement. Newell responded by saying that the team “has been working on engine stuff for quite a while”, though there were suggestions that the developer may be waiting for the right game to showcase the new technology.
On the topics of Kickstarter games, collaborative development, and where he sees the industry heading, Newell said, “The direction we’re heading in now, not just Valve, but everybody…one thing you guys may not know is that the community generates about 10 times as much content for TF2 as Valve does. Even though that’s all in pretty primitive stage still, my expectation is that all games will basically be about creating a framework for the community participants to build on top of it.”
Newell also revealed why exclusive content is bad for business, saying that Valve has no interest in heading down that path, instead preferring to reap the benefits of organic growth to the digital space.
“A bunch of people have asked us, ‘Hey, why don’t we do an exclusive, and we won’t ship on any of the other services; how much will you give us for being exclusive?' and we said, look, you know, it’s bad for you, it’s bad for us in the long run. We want lots of people to be innovating on these services. We’ll [all] benefit if somebody has some great ideas.”
Asked to confirm earlier “leaked” images reported to be Steam controllers, he clarified the company’s interest in the hardware space. “We’re working on controller designs,” said Newell. “We have three controllers we’re starting to do user testing on now. The reason we’re doing controllers is we didn’t think there was enough interesting innovation going on, and there are a bunch of reasons why we think that is happening. Even though we’ve never thought of ourselves as that, now we’re trying to tackle the problems of designing controllers and games at the same time, and we’re also trying to figure out how the Steam experience can extend into living rooms. The whole point is saying the things we all value about PC gaming, consoles should not be the only answer for that, so how do we make living room-friendly PCs?”
Finally, fans probed on rumoured and cancelled games, and were given sparse details. “We had an internal project called Stars of Blood, which was a space pirates game, but that never saw the light of day."
The full version of the video is available below.