Gabe Newell talks Steam, VR, eSports and more5 Mar 2014
Gabe Newell didn’t let PC gamers down today and finally turned up for the Reddit AMA earlier this evening. There was a variety of topics covered and thankfully not a complete deluge of Half Life 3 questions. Gabe discussed everything Steam related, VR, the location of this year’s DOTA 2 International, and more.
His favourite non-Valve game is Mario 64 and he plays games for about 20 hours per week in case those questions were keeping you up at night.
We yanked the good stuff from the interview so you don’t have to sift through the nightmare threading of an Reddit AMA.
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What improvements will we see out of the Source 2 engine?
The biggest improvements will be in increasing productivity of content creation. That focus is driven by the importance we see UGC having going forward. A professional developer at Valve will put up with a lot of pain that won’t work if users themselves have to create content.
Has the decision to allow publishers to have their own storefronts and manage their own “stock” gone forward, or was that just an idea being kicked around?
We realized that a store ought to be UGC (not just for publishers).
We haven’t heard any more about lower cost Steam Boxes for streaming from existing hardware. Is that something that’s still on the agenda?
Yes. We’re making some progress.
Can we please get an update on when we are likely to see Counter Strike Global Offensive for Linux?
It’s being worked on but we don’t have an ETA.
What are your thoughts on Valve making new IP’s?
An IP is really a tool for a development team more than anything else. The key is to have clarity around what is uniquely of value in what you are trying to do and not waste your effort on things that don’t directly contribute to that.
Seeing as you (valve) are now rolling out the steam OS and steam machines will be coming to market soon, what do you think your core target market is, the desktop, pc gamer, or the living room console player?
We see Steam Machines (along with SteamOS and the Steam Controller) as a service update to Steam, porting the experience to a new room in the house. As we’ve been working on it, we’ve focused first on the customers who already love Steam and its games. They’ve told us they’re tired of giving up all the stuff they love when they sit in the living room, so it seemed valuable to fix that.
With the success of Dota2, and then with CS:GO, what do you think is the future for esports on the PC? Also, with micro transactions in the games helping fund prize pots for tournaments, when do you think we will see a tournament fully funded by micro-transactions?
We still think we have a long way to go to get to the point where all of the different people that are contributing value to competitive play get everything out of it that they should. Feels like we are making pretty good progress though.
Giving the consumers of content a direct relationship with the creators of content is something we think about a lot. That is what drove our thinking about how the community could be more involved in the tournaments that mattered to them.
When did Valve originally start to research VR technology and why?
Abrash was thinking about it for a while, and started to get serious around 2 years ago. He thought that we’d reached the point where VR problems were getting tractable.
SteamOS could potentially be the first commercial Virtual Reality OS – what plans do you have for the future of the platform? How do you want to tackle the harder problems like user inputfor example?
User input is hard. We haven’t seen a solution yet to the problem. It’s in the next round of problems to tackle. We need to start doing experience fragments to help drive this.
The vast majority of demos for the Oculus Rift are done with Unity. Does Valve have any plans to turn Source or Source 2 into a more user-friendly development system with a C++ API as well as easy tools and release it early to give VR developers a headstart?
Alex Vlachos is working on this now (getting Source 2 working well with VR). Unity is pretty useful for lots of things as well.
What VR experiences are you personally looking forward to the most for Year 1 and 5?
Having a product ship that is worth customers money and time.
Ricochet 2. Did the long development time have anything to do with evolving technologies such as Virtual Reality? Are you planning to bring full VR support to future titles, such as Ricochet 2?
We aren’t holding any game until VR is shipping. You don’t want to create that kind of dependency.
Has Dota 2’s growth been unexpected? And where will TI4 be held?
We knew there were a lot of people playing Dota 1, and quite a few of those people worked at Valve, so our hope was that we’d do a good enough job on it that those people would play Dota 2.
We haven’t finalized where this year’s International will be. We are pretty sure it will be at Key Arena in Seattle, but we haven’t gotten everything finalized, and there is always a risk that our schedules and theirs won’t align in some way. As soon as we get everything finalized one way or another, we’ll get the dates out there for everyone who would like to attend. Should be fun this year.
Looking back to 2003, what were your (and Valves) goals and visions for Steam back then, and did it turn out as planned? Also, What is your vision for the Steam platform and PC gaming over the next ten years?
I’m not trying to dodge the question, but we find it more useful to think in terms of feedback loops than in terms of visions/goals. Iterating with the community means that your near-term objectives change all the time. The key benefit to Steam is to shorten the length of the loop. Longer term, we see that working at the level of individual gamers, where we think of everyone as creating and publishing experience. “How can we make gamers more productive” sounds weird, but is an accurate way to characterize where we’re going. It may make more sense if you think of it as “How can we make Dendi more entertaining to more people”.
How many hours a week would you say that you spend actually playing video games and whats your current favorite?
Dota 2 and about 20 hours.