By Nathan Grayson on July 26th, 2012 at 9:00 am.
Like the headline says, I have something of a conspiracy theory going here. Let’s review the evidence: 1) Valve has never released an official threequel. This, clearly, is because that would put it one step closer to the number eight. 2) I have never seen Windows 8 and Gabe Newell in the same room together. (This could also mean that Gabe Newell is Windows 8.) 3) Search Steam for “metro.” It turns up a series about a Russian nuclear apocalypse. Coincidence? I don’t have to answer that question. 4) When someone mentions Windows 8, Newell makes this face. 5) He recently said some things. He used the word “catastrophe”.
VentureBeat attended a Casual Connect talk where former Microsoft Game Studios head Ed Fries interviewed Newell, and Valve’s wizened maestro didn’t mince any words:
“I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space. I think that we’re going to lose some of the top-tier PC [original equipment manufacturers]. They’ll exit the market. I think margins are going to be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, it’s going to be a good idea to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality. But when you start thinking about a platform, you have to address it. “
Valve wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the PC. Id Software, Epic, Zynga, Facebook, and Google wouldn’t have existed without the openness of the platform. I think there’s a strong temptation to close the platform… That’s not how we got here, and I don’t think that’s a very attractive future. So we’re looking at the platform, and up until now we’ve been a free rider. We’ve been able to benefit from everything that’s gone into the PC and the Internet. Now we have to start finding ways that we can continue to make sure there are open platforms.”
Specifically, he mentioned Linux and “post-touch” hardware (e.g. wearable computing) as potential alternatives. Speaking about Linux, he noted that “I think that a lot of people – in their thinking about platforms – don’t realize how critical games are as a consumer driver of purchases and usage,” further calling it “one of the big problems holding Linux back.”
Valve’s forays into the field of wearable computing, meanwhile, haven’t managed to get quite as far, but – gesture-based complications aside – it’s made strides with “this $70,000 system” that enables all sorts of overlays when someone looks around a room. So it’s a start. Newell acknowledged, however, that he thinks touch tech will continue to rule the roost for another ten years or so.
6) Notice, however, that he didn’t say eight. I rest my case.