Valve founder Gabe Newell recently gave an hour-long lecture at the University of Texas. You can watch it all here – and I recommend that you do as it’s very interesting. At the 42-minute mark Newell discusses his vision for a Steam marketplace free from the bottleneck of publisher requests, and why he would like to take Valve out of that equation altogether, allowing content creators to publish freely in an open market. Think of a big open-invite market stall with no middleman.
“Right now Steam is essentially a curated store”, Newell explained. “It’s a bunch of other things but you can essentially think of it as a curated store. We have these really hard-working people that other companies call up and say, ‘Hey, would you put my game up on Steam’, and then they’re like ‘Oh, you know, we’re putting out three games a day right now, we’ve got to make these capsules and so on.”
“Essentially- whether we want to or not – we’re becoming a bottleneck, in terms of content being connected with users. Now, there are reasons why you might want to create an artificial bottleneck between content creators and consumers. For example, if you want to shift where relative value is, towards distribution, it’s great if you can create artificial shelf space scarcity.
“That’s not really what we’re trying to do. So rather than having this curated store we’re going to say, ‘OK if we’re thinking about this correctly, it really should be sort of a network API.’ There should be this publishing model – and yes you have to worry about viruses and malware and stuff like that – but essentially anybody should be able to publish anything through Steam.
“Steam is just a whole bunch of servers, and a whole bunch of network bandwidth, and if people are interested in consuming the stuff that you’re putting up there, than a collective good is going to be there. So rather than us sitting between creators and consumers, we’re going to get as far out of that connection as possible.
“That’s a consequence of the direction that the industry is going.”
An open marketplace for content creators. It sounds mega, and Newell wants people to be able to create their own content stores, set their own prices and sell things from TF2 hats to their own games and even their own game collection. What do you think?