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."
Raised by the warm glow of arcade machine monitors and TV screens, Dan's lifelong passion has always been games. PC, console, mobile, handheld, you name it, he'll play it. He also enjoys photography, long walks on the beach, and clichés.
Valve is like the Apple of the videogame industry. While I would love Half Life 3, building a new source engine and designing games that are powered by user content will bring a lot more quality games on the market than if Valve just did what every other company does.
I think Half Life 3 will come out eventually. It must. But right now Valve is just too busy focusing on building a user-made world of content, gamer friendly environment. These days I try and get all my games on steam. It's such a wonderful platform.
A new Source engine would be great. In spite of the awful jumping mechanics the Source engine has (just my opinion, I always have trouble with the jumping in HL2), this is about the only engine I'm excited about. I guess it's because they did such a great job with Source.
Valve's moved way beyond just being Half-Life. And I for one appreciate how transparent they are about everything. "Yeah, we're working on controllers. And a new Source engine. Oh, and the games are better if we let you create your own content." What a down-to-earth dude.
Community created content is the future of all games? Umm, I doubt it, look around you Gabe, most of the industry hates that and does everything they can to prevent it. The games industry, like many other tech industries, keeps adding more and more barriers to consumers being able to do what they want with their games, it's even criminal in some circumstances. With that kind of attitude, I find it hard to believe we're going to see an explosion of games that come with tools for creating content. Only in very select cases where they feel that developing such a tool will actually lead to increased profit, or, in cases where the people behind the game may not be so stuck on making such a careful economic analysis, like indie or small game devs.
@hystavito ummm he was talking about his games and saying how more and more people are starting to make user content, and the one companies who doesnt allow it can burn in hell, thats what he is really saying.
@msfan1289@hystavito I took "all games" to mean the industry, not just Valve, but maybe I'm wrong. I'd have to watch the actual video, but I'll just take your word for it since I'm not that interested :).
The community driving the content thing I mean yeah it works for TF 2 because its an exceptionally good game with tons of support by valve with a huge fan base and low cost to get the game. I dont think most games would be able to get a big enough community to generate anything good
Gabe Newell and the rest of Valve are incredibly smart. They never talk about the things that everybody wants to know about, HL3 of course. If it had been a lesser company, with a poorer history of games, they would probably slip into oblivion. But this is Valve, they know what kind of power they have, and hats off to them. Half-Life 3 will come out, and it will be glorious (but maby it'll be 2025). I can wait.
@tgwolf Very poetic, but full of shit I'm afraid. It sounds to me like they're more productive and ambitious than ever. They're getting into hardware and turning their eyes toward the living room. Just 15 years ago they were nothing but "the guys who made Half-Life." They're just holding their cards close like they always have.
Valve has always been great. Its interface could use a large face lift imo but still better than any console dashboard. I'm always happy to hear things valve is doing. One of the few companies that has my 'consumer loyalty' and has kept it. I rarely see people hating on Valve for anything concrete.
"all games will basically be about creating a framework for the community participants to build on top of it" I'm glad that a lot of PC games are already like this, but I would like to see more new/old games get more mod friendly.
@sozar i agree. it is really strange that we hear this now. i was thinking that the engine would be done by now. the only positive variant is that they worked parallel on the both using half life 3 to test the engine. because the other options would mean that it will take some time before the engine is done (thinking about 6 months to 1 year) and then the actual game development would begin (even if it's not from scratch it would still take at least 1 year). this means that at best we will hear something about HL3 in Q3-4 of 2013 or worst case scenario, 2 years+. another option would be to launch episode 3 on the old engine and HL3 to be launched later on the new engine.