In a wide-ranging interview, Gabe Newell dishes about Steam, piracy and Half-Life 3.
The CEO and cofounder of Valve is never short on opinions. As the creator of some of the most beloved games titles (Team Fortress 2, Portal, Half-Life) and owner of the most pervasive online gaming portal for the PC platform, Gabe Newell has earned the right to express them. In an interview for the University of Cambridge's school newspaper, Newell said that the way to end piracy is to provide a service that's more complete than cracked software, and that restrictive DRM only encourages more piracy.
"We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem," he said. "If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable."
The proof is in the proverbial pudding. "Prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become [Steam's] largest market in Europe," Newell said.
The purpose of Steam is to provide as much value not only to the customer but also to other game publishers. "Our success comes from making sure that both customers and partners (e.g. Activision, Take 2, Ubisoft...) feel like they get a lot of value from those services, and that they can trust us not to take advantage of the relationship that we have with them."
While Newell offered candid observations on the risks of releasing Portal and the support Valve has provided with 150 updates to TF2 since 2007, he was not so loquacious when it came to questions about long-delayed Episode 3 of Half-Life 2. When asked whether it was a mistake to release episodic content for HL2, he merely said, "Not yet."
Oh, and Gabe? When is Half-Life 3 coming out?
"I don't know," he said.
Source: The Cambridge Student