Gabe Newell laments move from open platforms

Valve's Gabe Newell says the video game industry is moving away from open platforms, and thinks Apple could shake up the industry with a living room console device.

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Valve head Gabe Newell says that games are entering a transitional phase, and warns that the industry may be moving away from open platforms, towards proprietary technology instead. "On the platform side, it's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms," Newell said in a panel.

He also suggests that Apple could be on the verge of releasing a living room device that could shake up the industry like the iPhone.

According to The Seattle Times, Newell says platform holders "view themselves as more rent guys who are essentially driving their partner margins to zero." He accuses platform holders of attracting users and then controlling access using their platforms.

"I suspect Apple will launch a living room product that redefines people's expectations really strongly and the notion of a separate console platform will disappear," he said. "I'm worried that the things that traditionally have been the source of a lot of innovation are going - there's going to be an attempt to close those off so somebody will say 'I'm tired of competing with Google, I'm tired of competing with Facebook, I'll apply a console model and exclude the competitors I don't like from my world.'"

Newell has been vocal about console criticisms before, but surprised gamers last year when he appeared on-stage at Sony's E3 press conference to announce Portal 2 on PlayStation 3. Sony allowed Valve to include Steam features into the game, proof that Newell supports whichever platform happens to be the most open.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 12, 2011 4:30 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Gabe Newell laments move from open platforms.

    Valve's Gabe Newell says the video game industry is moving away from open platforms, and thinks Apple could shake up the industry with a living room console device.

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      October 12, 2011 4:33 PM

      I wonder if there is room for another console.

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        October 12, 2011 4:33 PM

        it wouldn't be a traditional console. more your appletv is a hub and your ipad/iphone are the controllers. running ios apps

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          October 12, 2011 4:35 PM

          Which is exactly what it is now with AirPlay mirroring.

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          October 12, 2011 4:38 PM

          like WiiU?

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            October 12, 2011 4:41 PM

            well yea, except people will buy it

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              October 12, 2011 5:13 PM

              Regardless of your opinion of it, it's going to sell insanely.

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                October 12, 2011 5:19 PM

                I don't know, I don't think so. I think the Wii was good marketing but I also think for millions of the consoles they sold a lot of them sat idle in peoples' homes collecting dust. You can see from the software sales side of things, the Wii hasn't been a huge success outside of the first party games from Nintendo and even some of those were soft.

                Nintendo is sitting on a giant pile of money from Wii sales and that allows them to be able to fail and survive, but after the 3DS I am not sure how many more failures they can take. The market for their DS games is moving to mobile phones and cheaper games, I think Nintendo's days as a hardware maker are numbered.

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          October 12, 2011 5:10 PM

          touch controllers are and almost always will be ass for most games that exist on consoles today.

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        October 12, 2011 4:38 PM

        nobody asked whether there is room for another handheld. phones just kind of butted in on their parade

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          October 12, 2011 4:46 PM

          I, for one, did not ask for this.

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        October 12, 2011 5:13 PM

        This is what people said when MS launched the first xbox.

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        October 12, 2011 5:13 PM

        if this is on steve's flowchart, there will be room.

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        October 12, 2011 5:21 PM

        I think if any new company could do it, it's Apple. They could just tout it as the next best thing and make it look sleek and not suck.

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        October 13, 2011 7:46 AM

        not in my entertainment center there isnt :(

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      October 12, 2011 4:34 PM

      Gabe/Valve is proof that you can do things properly and still make a ton of money. Why can't more people follow his example?

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        October 12, 2011 4:43 PM

        Not everyone can be fucking awesome! Love you Gabe!

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        October 12, 2011 4:44 PM

        Cause they can make BILLIONS of dollars pandering to bro-gamers with the likes of MW2

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        October 12, 2011 4:53 PM

        Lots of companies are trying to and we all hate their attempts; ie Origin.

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        October 12, 2011 4:55 PM

        It's a lot easier to do that when you're sitting on huge cash reserves from successful franchises + owning a digital distribution platform.

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          October 12, 2011 5:13 PM

          Except, they started as awesome, before all of that. Also, it's not like other companies don't have a ton of cash.

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            October 12, 2011 5:16 PM

            Gabe and Valve's co-founder were both Microsoft millionaires. They had enough funds to scrap Half Life and start over when it was clear that it sucked. This isn't criticism, good on them for doing the right thing and releasing a quality product, but from the start they had financial resources that many independent studios don't.

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              October 12, 2011 5:19 PM

              I'm not really talking about independent studios though. I'm talking about the big ones, both publishers and developers. Valve is still the king when it comes to post-game support, as the pretty well never abandon a product, and continually release free DLC for it.

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                October 13, 2011 12:52 AM

                Well, 99% of most non-independant studios can't make those calls. The publishers make those decisions.

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              October 12, 2011 6:23 PM

              Plus they did it during a time when selling ~100k copies of a game was considered a huge hit.

              The market has changes, substantially, since then.

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          October 12, 2011 5:15 PM

          Risky investments in the past paid off huge in the present. WHAT A SHOCKER.

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            October 12, 2011 5:16 PM

            Also they were awesome before Steam came out so that argument can go right out the window.

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          October 12, 2011 5:15 PM

          But they are providing that platform for others to use too. Its the giants like EA and Activision in the industry who have to do shit the stupid way.

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          October 12, 2011 5:16 PM

          ... like apple?

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        October 12, 2011 5:32 PM

        Actually it may be the Valve occupies a particular niche and occupies it fully. Very few companies have the resources, talent, and organization that Valve has.

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        October 12, 2011 6:13 PM

        Because no matter how much tons of money you make, corporate greed is going to want you to make more.

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      October 12, 2011 4:46 PM

      I think AppleTV/iPhone/iPad integration is going to be as far as Apple goes in terms of a living room console.

      That said, what developers have done with iOS5 is already pretty cool: http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/07/real-racing-2-shows-off-iphone-4s-graphical-chops-brings-split/

      Perhaps it'll take Apple or someone else (Onlive maybe?) making a compatible gamepad for it to go beyond just touch and gyro interfaces.

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        October 12, 2011 4:57 PM

        "I consider Apple to be very closed," Newell said. "Let's say you have a book business and you are charging 5 to 7 percent gross margins. You can't exist in an Apple world because they want 30 percent and they don't care that you only have 7 percent to play with."

        Doesn't Valve's Steam service also extract a "tax" on game companies that use the platform, Fries asked.

        Newell said Steam gets a commission if games are sold through Steam, but developers can use its free tools and services and sell their games elsewhere and "we don't take anything."


        I love Steam and Gabe, but this is BS. iOS doesn't force platform exclusivity and the 70/30 split is pretty standard. Does Steam give an even bigger cut to publishers? I don't think Steam's split numbers have ever been made public, so it seems weird that he would criticize this point when he's only dodged revealing information on this himself.

        It all seems a bit hypocritical when Steam is a closed platform in and of itself. BTW, when I say "closed" it isn't meant as a pejorative, the best ecosystems right now (iOS, XBox Live, Steam) are closed. Their great execution is the product of this control.

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          October 12, 2011 5:05 PM

          Why is Steam closed if they host games that don't use Steamworks or do use GFWL?

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            October 12, 2011 5:12 PM

            Because one of its primary functions is DRM. It offers a ton of service and convenience which makes it totally fine by me. I myself was saying that Steam was the future way back when it was merely a patch updater and friend list in the CS 1.6 days and everyone was trashing it, but I don't kid myself about it being an open platform either.

            In any case, he uses the argument that Steam doesn't take a cut if a game is released on another platform. Again, ridiculous given that none of the other closed platforms do that either. It's slippery, that's all.

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              October 12, 2011 5:20 PM

              It is also relative how closed these systems are. XBox Live is by far the most restrictive given that cross-platform multiplayer is not allowed, and based on many anecdotes from independent developers re: their experience dealing with Microsoft (Super Meat Boy devs, etc etc).

              PS3 is more open in that cross-platform multiplayer is allowed between PC/PS3/Mac (much thanks to Valve). Many cross-platform games exist on mobile platforms. Apple isn't at all restrictive about crossplatform gaming between iOS and Android handsets.

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                October 13, 2011 8:02 AM

                Why won't MS allow cross-platform MP?

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              October 12, 2011 5:24 PM

              OPEN as in non exclusive, NOT open as in open source, or open control of app - read the context.

              He's mostly referring to his negotiatons with EA im assuming regarding BF3. they want their sub par software for exclusively selling their product and denying it to their real competitor. (steam, because D2D doesnt even come close) steam offers an OPEN PLATFORM because it has no exclusivity with its titles, thats up to the publisher, they make a commission if it does well, and most of their features are free. not to mention the indie and mod support.
              (valve as a developer for their own games is a different matter, he is talking about platforms and not games.)

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                October 12, 2011 5:41 PM

                "He's mostly referring to his negotiations with EA im assuming regarding BF3."

                You're inferring that. He never once talks about EA or BF3. Everything he is talking about is explicitly regarding game consoles and iDevices.

                He's talking about platforms, not publishers. If EA decides not to publish on Steam or iTunes or whatever, it's their prerogative.

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                  October 12, 2011 5:59 PM

                  His issues seem to be if a platform forces exclusivity or demands a cut from games also sold on other platforms. This is strange given that every platform minus XBL (iOS/Android/Steam/PS3) allows crossplatform multiplayer without restrictions and doesn't demand a cut of sales made on other platforms. Well, that and the fact that Valve games are exclusive to Steam.

                  Again, I have absolutely zero issues with these practices, it just seems odd that he's making the criticisms that he is when he owns Steam.

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              October 12, 2011 5:24 PM

              So closed platform just means DRM, well I dunno about that. To me an open platform is a non-standard platform that allows duplicate functionality through different solutions, so if you can patch and update a game through Steam OR through GFWL or through your own thing, that to me is an open platform.

              The DRM stuff is a separate issue and doesn't make Steam closed the way iTunes Store is closed.

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                October 12, 2011 5:36 PM

                But patches are through Steam, not GFWL. The only thing I've seen GFWL patch is the interface that lets you talk with other people on XBL and look at your cheevos.

                I completely disagree about the DRM thing. Don't forget that Steam is the only way to play Valve games, period. If you don't want Steam (I make fun of these people btw but let's use this for the sake of argument), then tough shit. Also, if you bought a third party game on Steam then you need Steam to play it no matter what. Sounds like a closed system to me.

                As I said in another response, there are degrees of closed. XBox Live is at the extreme end of being closed while Steam/iOS/Android/PS3 are similar in many ways. The thing the non-XBL systems do share in common is unrestricted cross-platform multiplayer. You'd think based on Gabe's quote that iTunes wants a cut of Android sales and that they restrict multiplayer to iOS devices only, which totally isn't the case.

                The biggest difference between consoles/iDevices and Steam is that Valve doesn't sell hardware. As far as software and policies go, they share a lot more in common than he's letting on.

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                  October 12, 2011 6:01 PM

                  i consider steam a closed platform because not just anybody can put their games on it.

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                    October 12, 2011 8:59 PM

                    Gabe complaining about closed platforms is like a guy who runs one of the biggest brothels in Bangkok complaining about the sex trade. It's just weird. There are very few complaints he levels against other closed platforms that can't be applied towards Steam.

                    And again, "closed" is generally not a negative for me, I use and enjoy pretty much all of them.

                    It's ok though, he says silly things about how coding for multiple cores is ridiculous or how the PS3 sucks, and he always comes around and is still awesome in the end. :)

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                      October 13, 2011 6:33 AM

                      He never once said that coding for multiple cores is ridiculous. He said because of the unorthodox, and quite frankly, odd collection of cores on the PS3 that working on games for the PS3 doesn't transfer over to any other sort of industry (where the industry is software engineering) because nobody else uses anything that different and/or convoluted. You have to program for multiple cores all the time on the PC and 360, he's got no problem with that. It's the type of core and the fact the PS3 is convoluted that he was complaining about.

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              October 12, 2011 7:05 PM

              Steam is quite a bit more open than Xbox Live and iOS. Steam doesn't have a certification process, games are updated hours after developers send the patch to Valve. There is not a lot of quality control on what comes to Steam. Valve tests games to make sure they aren't broken and that is it, they don't impose any standards on developers. Steam allows mods.

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                October 12, 2011 8:49 PM

                There's that, but at the same time the barrier for entry on Steam seems higher than it is on iOS due to development costs. iOS has a massive developer community and even though there is vetting from Apple, it doesn't do much as far as keeping software off the platform. So long as it isn't buggy and it doesn't take info without users knowing, its in. It is much much looser than it was when it started in 2008.

                You won't get any argument from me on XBL though, everyone knows how closed off it is and how tough it can be for developers to get their games certified.

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              October 13, 2011 3:57 AM

              He means you can sell Steam games elsewhere and still use the whole steamworks stuff. Valve only takes their cut if it sold through Steam. That's pretty open.

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        October 12, 2011 5:31 PM

        there was some deficiency in mp3 players and smart phones that they exploited to create a sleeker product but i dont see what that is in a set top box. i guess thats why appletv never took off

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          October 12, 2011 5:46 PM

          AppleTV is the gateway to a console like experience. Splitscreen multiplayer gaming on an HDTV kind of just happened with developers taking advantage of AirPlay, kind of like how gaming just happened with the iPhone.

          Good vertically integrated hardware with decent APIs and a centralized storefront (like Steam) seems to be all developers needed. Apple really didn't do a thing except provide the platform.

          Once the AppleTV gets apps and an A6 or whatever and it still costs $100, look out.

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            October 12, 2011 7:04 PM

            but its not a dvr and its not cable tv and most people dont need a media server (like me). what makes it a killer app?

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              October 12, 2011 8:54 PM

              I cut the cord on satellite last year and people are doing it more and more. It is harder to justifdy spending $1000 a year when you can get Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, MLB, and some other services that are now "apps" on AppleTV, XBox, PS3, and some HDTVs. Things are quickly moving towards a more internet-like method of watching content on a TV from these devices.

              As soon as contracts are up and if parties agree to negotiations, you'll see more exclusive content and channels like NFL, HBO, things like that there as well.

              If you have a little $100 box like an AppleTV or a Roku or whatever that has these channels and can suddenly play apps on top of streaming the same from an iPad/iPhone/iPod, that's kind of a big deal.

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                October 12, 2011 9:14 PM

                i dont believe there is anything inherent to the device that makes this a big deal so i guess my point is that they cant solve it with superior hardware or interface. its a media content issue i would guess. hopefully apple has the clout to solve that because i am in the same boat and got rid of direct tv, but i really hate how piecemeal the content is. im not gonna pay 5 different content providers all for spotty catalogs

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                  October 12, 2011 11:09 PM

                  I'm fine paying multiple providers for their catalogs. It still comes out to about a fifth of what I used to pay for DirectTV. As for the rest, it's just a really solid platform that developers have made happen.

                  Apple didn't set out to make a very popular mobile gaming platform with the iPhone and iPod, it just happened by itself. Developers may run with an app capable AppleTV in the same way. They're already exploring the possibilities with Airplay, who knows what they'll do when there's real power in there.

                  I think what it inherently has is solid hardware and APIs, vertical integration with the other iDevices, cheap applications, and a unified storefront. Who knows what happens, we'll see.

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                    October 13, 2011 12:04 AM

                    i should clarify. i subscribe to netflix hulu and amazon and their catalogs have huge overlap just because they mostly have similar sources. the chance that i could think of a movie and then go watch it is very small, even though that probability is very very high if im paying full price to buy it on itunes overpriced

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            October 12, 2011 11:17 PM

            They'll still be stuck with controls that people won't like.

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        October 12, 2011 7:44 PM

        Yeah. With Airplay they can essentially put games on the TV without even needing a console. Would be interesting if they came out with a bluetooth controller.

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      October 12, 2011 5:18 PM

      Screw you, Gabe. Quit whining and get your ass working on Half Life 3. Or buy Onlive and revolutionize the industry yourself by fusing the great elements of Steam with the idea of a streaming model. I think you'd make money and could have it as open as you wanted.

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        October 12, 2011 6:25 PM

        Holy shit I think I love you.

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      October 12, 2011 5:24 PM

      I will be shocked if Apple enters the console market. I just don't think they'd be able to control margins enough to their liking.

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        October 12, 2011 5:31 PM

        I think what he's implying is that it will happen almost accidentally, not explicitly. Sort of like how Apple entered the Cell Phone market, but disrupted the entire handheld gaming market as a result. What happened is they got a very popular device into the hands of the consumer that turned out to be powerful enough for a rich mobile gaming experience, so games started being made -- and then they started making money (partly due to the size of the user base) and bam. I can totally envision a time where there's a proper Apple TV and/or more robust apple set-top box that will hit the same mass market notes that the iPhone does.

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          October 12, 2011 6:23 PM

          Yeah probably this. Apple doesn't want to be seen as a game company. They want nothing to do with games and it makes them sick that games are so successful on the iphone and ipad platforms as apps. They would have proffered a bunch of music making apps the top sellers but it terns out there is a bigger market for crappy nerd games for uncreative people.

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        October 12, 2011 6:25 PM

        i dont think they would do it directly.

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      October 12, 2011 5:32 PM

      Apple has cultured a huge game development ecosystem, has a device that's TV-connected, has an established digital marketplace, and has a line of complementary devices that support novel gameplay concepts. Of course Apple is going to cash in on console gaming as soon as they're ready to pull the trigger.

      However, it's very unlikely they'll try to openly compete with the hardware-focused consoles. They'll just release a small device that does a lot of things, plus plays games, and they'll make a gazillion dollars even while Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo still work on their own market segment.

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        October 12, 2011 6:48 PM

        If they do it will only be because they have the chance to go off into new markets, games will be an afterthought.

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      October 12, 2011 5:45 PM

      I'm sick today and not thinking clearly. Someone please explain what he just said there. I read a lot of words but the reading comprehension for me is low.

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      October 12, 2011 5:46 PM

      Apple is the exact opposite of an open platform.

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        October 12, 2011 5:54 PM

        compared to current consoles and handhelds it is pretty fucking open

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      October 12, 2011 5:57 PM

      I need a Valve Steambox to attach to my TV.

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      October 12, 2011 6:00 PM

      the living room will not tolerate the quality of the average iphone game. i tolerate those games because they are 99 cents and because its on my phone.

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        October 12, 2011 7:02 PM

        Watching the video posted in the comments above, I agree. The framerate was bad.

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      October 12, 2011 7:31 PM

      Wait he laments a move away from open platforms, and then thinks Apple is the answer?

      I love Apple, I'm updating my iPhone as we speak, but is he actually trying to connect "Apple" with "open platforms"?

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        October 12, 2011 7:40 PM

        He's saying that Apple will make it worse, and they have the sheer size and mindshare to do it.

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          October 12, 2011 7:45 PM

          ok, I guess I misread/made the wrong connection

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      October 12, 2011 8:19 PM

      [deleted]

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        October 12, 2011 8:34 PM

        LAMENTS MOVE FROM

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        October 13, 2011 12:27 AM

        The problem is that people don't understand what "laments" means? Read books, people!

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          October 13, 2011 7:48 AM

          I really don't see what Gears of War has to do with Valve.

          Seriously shoddy writing, Shacknews.

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        October 13, 2011 7:33 AM

        Reading comprehension is overrated.

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      October 12, 2011 8:42 PM

      Valve needs to buy/merge with OnLive, come to ARM devices, and allow for both local and cloud gaming. This would seriously put to end all concerns. I'd be even willing to pay a (very low) subscription fee (something along the lines of how much xbox live costs per year) to have the ability to stream any game I own on Steam to any device that can have a keyboard/mouse and/or controller.

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      October 12, 2011 8:50 PM

      That would be fantastic, that'd be 2 consoles I know I'd never consider buying.

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      October 12, 2011 9:15 PM

      What about mods. What about Raven?

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      October 13, 2011 12:25 AM

      There's always room for iOS games, though. The cost on entry is basically the cost of the device, and then you have access to hundreds of thousands of casual games for a dollar. The closed model, as far as Apple is concerned, only really forces extremely lower prices. There's competition, but only on the App Store.

      It's laughable to think that the iOS experience will ever overtake traditional console/ PC gaming. It will, however, dig deep into the portable gaming industry.

      But I understand Newell's frustration: Imagine if Sony or Microsoft charged you 30% of ALL your profits as a developer. That is absurd.

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        October 13, 2011 1:00 AM

        Does anyone know how the margins work for PSN/XBLA games? What do Sony/MS charge? I'd be surprised if it's much less than 30%

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      October 13, 2011 2:09 AM

      I never knew I'd say "I love you" to a fat dude.

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      October 13, 2011 7:55 AM

      lot of gabe news recently and nothing about dota 2. gabe i am upset.

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      October 13, 2011 8:06 AM

      Sony allowed Valve to include Steam features into the game, proof that Newell supports whichever platform happens to be the most open.

      FALSE. He doesn't support an "open" platform, he supports whatever he can do to put Steam on more users equipment.

      I still say Sony had no clue what his ultimate goals were when they agreed to let Steam onto the PS3.

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        October 13, 2011 3:05 PM

        "He doesn't support an "open" platform, he supports whatever he can do to put Steam on more users equipment. "...which for Gabe means 'OPEN' versus having the way Steam is used be dictated by another company.

        And yeah, Sony is insane for wanting a stronger working relationship with one of the most popular, well-liked game developers in the world. What a bunch of morons.

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