If I had the chance to choose someone from the gaming industry to sit down and listen to, it’d be Gabe Newell. Sure, he’s produced a couple of games that I’ve enjoyed immensely – but that’s not the reason. Rather, he seems to just “get it”, and gets what gamers want. He doesn’t rush his games because he’s not willing to risk tarnishing the nearly squeaky-clean company image that he’s worked so hard to build. He’s also full of insight, and doesn’t mind talking about the future. Oh – and he speaks his mind.
Last summer, he famously called Microsoft’s then-upcoming Windows 8 OS a “catastrophe”. He felt so strongly about that, that it was one of the driving forces behind the decision to port Steam to Linux, a process that’s currently in an open beta stage. At the DICE 2013 Summit in Las Vegas, he had further interesting thoughts about Linux:
“It’s a get-out-of-jail free pass for our industry if we need it.”
That statement seems to suggest that there could be a time when game developers are tired of dealing with certain down-falls on Windows and can use a truly open Linux to build things back up. As much as I am a fan of Linux, though, something like that is a pipe dream at this point. Linux is great, but I think there’s a lot of work to be done before companies en masse decide to flock to it. It’s really hard to break free from what’s familiar when the target OS suffers quite a bit of fragmentation. Things would be easier if there was just one Linux OS, but that would of course be a horrible – and impossible – thing at the same time.
That said, the state of Linux on Steam at the moment is good, and a couple of new games are being added each week. It might take a while, but this could in fact cause other major publishers to take Linux more seriously. And I hope so, because I’d love to hear a Richard Stallman rant about EA’s ridiculous DRM on Linux.
That Linux comment wasn’t the only interesting thing Newell talked about at the conference, though. He also confirmed that he’s been in talks with J.J. Abrams about creating a Half-Life or Portal movie, and also talked about a couple of other gaming trends which we’ve heard from him before. It’s well worth checking out if you have 30 minutes to kill.