Valve Software Chief: Windows 8 a “Catastrophe”

The head of Valve Software, the company behind the Steam platform, has called Windows 8 a “catastrophe” for the PC games market.

Gabe Newell predicted that Microsoft’s changes with the new system could be a major deterrent for games manufacturers. He warned that Windows could become far less open and in turn would stifle innovation.

Newell didn’t go into extensive detail, but his main concern appears to be the prospect of PC owners who run the default Metro setting in Windows 8 sticking only to the official Microsoft app store, rather than going to the effort of switching to the more traditional desktop display and installing software manually.

Valve, which distributes its own games directly though Steam, won’t be enthralled about the prospect of having to either agree to Microsoft getting a cut of its revenue, or missing out on potential sales. It’s also worried that games makers may be tempted to stick to the Microsoft store and miss out Steam altogether.

Newell also admitted that Valve’s recent efforts to bring Steam to Linux are a “hedging strategy” in case it does indeed see a drop in Windows business.

After noting that many online firms were only able to develop their services because the PC as a whole is a relatively open platform, Newell said of Microsoft that ” I think there’s a strong temptation to close the platform. If people look at what they can accomplish when they can limit competitors’ access to their platform, they say, ‘Wow, that’s really exciting.’… That’s not how we got here, and I don’t think that’s a very attractive future.”

And it’s not just gaming where Newell thinks there’ll be problems. He outright says that “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. ”

(Image credit: Game Developers Choice Awards)

21 Responses to Valve Software Chief: Windows 8 a “Catastrophe”

  1. Newell missed that all important word “me” … This is “catastrophic for me”. Of course he doesn’t want to have to compete with Windows Marketplace but welcome to reality. Next hyperbole please.

    • One software store is going to be bad for everyone. Microsoft could just shut the doors and stifle innovation. MS getting a cut of every sale has a really good chance of eating the possible saving we'd see from digital distribution. Apple already shuts innovative products out of its market because they compete with it, or just don't play by their rules.

    • It will be catastrophic to everyone. Yes, Valve probably would take a hit, but so would a large amount of gamers unless MS overhauls GfWLM so it isn't a collosal slab of drek

  2. 2007 Newell: "Wii is much more valuable than Xbox or PS3"
    1996 Newell decides to cash out all of his Microsoft stock, about a year before it would climb to ~2x it's value at it's climax in 1999

    Windows 8 will also feature an integrated app store… which will compete directly with his cash cow Steam.

    color me skeptical of his ethos on this subject

  3. Wow… you know he hasn't even tried Windows 8. If he had he was see that Metro is not the place you do anything… its a pretty start menu… Anyone who thinks that the Metro is the end to Windows really needs to try it for at least 2 days before you mock it because you will realize it is faster and more efficient then Windows 7 with all the same features.

    • How much of that Kool-Aid did you drink?

      I have, on an x86 tablet (like it was meant for) for a few weeks, and it is none of what you claim. I found it slower and clunky on the same hardware that win7 runs fine on. The "explorer" interface seems more like a shell that runs on top of the Metro than the other way around. It certainly didn't have all of the features that Win7 does, but it was a release preview, so hopefully that will change.

      It's OK for a consumption interface, i.e. a touch friendly, browser-centric OS, but wasn't a good desktop replacement for me.

      I don't think it will really be a threat to the "gaming" industry any more than Android/iOS already are. Steam doesn't seem to cater to that market anyway, as it is.

  4. Why doesn't he realize that he will just have to innovate as well or be left in the dust. This is IT in the 21st century, innovate or Die!! Sounds like the simple fix would be for Steam to just develop a Metro based app store. That would help them compete with the Microsoft store, plus give them access to the tablet and Windows 8 Mobile market.

    This isn't a negative, with a little work its a HUGE positive!

    • Dude, you missed the whole internet explorer monopoly thing I guess. Whatever comes as default on the platform will have an unfair advantage. That is why in more civilized parts of the world (read Europe) Windows comes with a browser selector instead of explorer.

  5. Does he really believe gamers, who hack/clock the guts out of their machines and, if they are long in the tooth like me, know how to get stuff running no matter the various hurdles, won’t know how to install Steam or switchg to the Desktop.

    Pur-lease. That’s almost as preposterous as the wait for HL2: EPIII!

    • Except the larger population of people purchasing/playing games are casuals; they may not have the tech-know-how to do a lot of this. Hell, even watching some of the pro-gamers on the scene, they rely on their teammates to do things for them because they know nothing about the specs of the machine they're working on.

      Which I'm not saying is bad. That's their choice, but that means that companies are going to have to change (good) to ensure that they keep that market of people who are casual but spending money. As far as I'm concerned, he's whinging hardcore about having to make changes to Steam to make it competitive.

      Now, if Microsoft actually closes the market and forces Steam to pay them? Then that's bad for the market because it's going to drive prices up for everyone. Though, I'd also think there'd be a court case in the making.

  6. Probably just me, but this strikes me more as an initial start of Valve getting more people behind the idea of dropping windows and using something Valve are working on and have been for some time.

    Not talking straight up "Oh valve are going Linux at its core and it's all going to be Ubuntu" but more "Valve have their own standalone solution now, but it's designed in such a way that you can't tell the difference". If they do, expect Episode 3 as the systems release exclusive. :p

  7. The only reason I even use Windows is because it supports all platforms of gaming. I myself have tried Windows 8 and agree that it’s shit, but anyone that knows anything about Windows knows how to dodge any innovation they might be “trying to stop”. I’ll just keep using Windows 7 until they release something better.

  8. If Valve starts supporting Linux then Windows has almost become obsolete anyway. We just need Blizzard and EA to start supporting Linux then I wouldn't bother having Windows installed on any of my machines.

  9. It certainly could be a catastrophe for him, but if windows' marketplace is like the one on my xbox, it could be a platform for independent developers to get their product to market directly in a way that simply competes with Steam. Looking at the apps available on my Windows phone, it's not like Microsoft is enforcing a whole lot of restrictions on what's going on their marketplace there either.

    If people won't take the time to complete two clicks to get to your product rather than one, maybe your product needs to be a little more competitive.

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