Newell on Steam ‘bottleneck’, wants to open up publishing to everyone

Friday, 1st February 2013 12:29 GMT By Dave Cook

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?



  1. Kabby

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Stardog

    I’ve been saying this for ages.

    “They should just turn it into an app store where people can publish games for a fee and get to use the Steam platform.”

    As per usual you’re all wrong and I’m right. Now that Gabe himself has said it you can all say it too.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. viralshag

    But then what happens in a situation like that Day/War-Z (I can’t remember which it was) game if the released game is of such bad quality and barely playable?

    Valve kinda had to step in, put their foot down by taking it off the store and offer refunds. I like how Steam is now because a lot of the time I know that the games will be playable, whether they’re good or not is down to me.

    I think it’s a good idea but I also think if Valve were to get involved, I would hope it’s an entirely separate entity to Steam.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. DSB

    I’d recommend that article. Valve is a company where ideas are just flying around left and right.

    Just because Newell believes in this, doesn’t mean it’s feasible, and doesn’t mean it won’t be thrown out eventually.

    I think some form of moderation ultimately serves everybody. If you’re competing with a thousand tiny stores, and some run by megapublishers, then it becomes near impossible to draw attention to your product, kinda like Apples appstore.

    Something like the new releases tab only makes sense because you only have x number of products coming out each day.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Stardog

    @3 Then you just look at the ratings. Would you buy/install this game?

    I think the only reason War Z was removed was because of fake advertising, not because of game quality. Their “screenshots” were staged didn’t represent the actual game. The game itself is perfectly playable. It’s $15 and you can kill zombies/players and collect items. What more were people expecting? Though I haven’t played it since.

    No curation is required when there is a star rating system. And if they have good “Top 20 Newest/Hottest/All Time/Most Popular” formulas (which iTunes/Google Play don’t have) then decent content can be found quickly.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. viralshag

    @5, At the same time though while star rating systems can work for popular good games, it can also mean over-looked good low rated star games.

    I get what you mean though. I just don’t always thing a star rating system on an open platform is a guarantee of anything. But then I guess the same goes for Steam and listing the Metacritic score…

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DSB

    Metacritic is just a case of the emperors new clothes.

    Their methodology is blatantly flawed, and no one seems to care. Even while publishers are happily basing their business decisions on those metrics.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. viralshag

    I won’t lie, I use Metacritic to give me an immediate idea of what the reviews look like. I will only question it and research into a game or film if it completely goes against what my initial hope/thought was about the product.

    Still, I wouldn’t say it ever dictates my purchases.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. DSB

    @8 It’s not that Metacritic doesn’t give you an indication of what people are scoring very generally, but that indication is just extremely rough, and it doesn’t try to represent the critics accurately.

    Metacritic results include everything from academic scales, to 5 scales, to 10 scales, and so converting that data into a 100 scale and pooling it together makes no sense.

    The 5 scale is disruptive to the 10 scale, which is disruptive to the academic scale.

    If a critic scores a game 3 out of 5, then that’s an automatic 60, but mathematically it covers everything between 40 to 60, and it could also be that the reviewer thinks a 4 is indicative of a certain standard, and that a 3 is perfectly alright.

    To him a 3 could be more of a 50-79, a 4 could be more of a 80-99, and a 5 could be an even 100.

    So it doesn’t really serve the reviewer in making his point, or the reader in understanding it.

    Rotten Tomatoes makes sense, because it gives every reviewer the same value and effect, regardless of scale and standards. Is the review positive or negative, and what is the percentage of the positive? That way you don’t have those mistakes.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Cobra951

    If we don’t learn from history, we’re destined to repeat it?

    Does anyone recall the game-market crash of 1983? I do. There was so much product, and so little of it worthwhile, that people turned away from it. They built landfills for all the unwanted silicon. Opening the floodgates to publish on Steam everything that comes along would be a huge mistake. There needs to be an evaluation and screening process, however flawed it might be.

    To be fair, I have yet to watch the lecture. I’m reacting to the story as reported here. If I missed something important, I’ll acknowledge it then.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. TheWulf

    I’ll say this now: I absolutely despise star voting systems.

    The problem with them is that they become ‘cult of popularity’ things, where the popular publishers and genres, or the industry faces get all the five-star votes. And what happens? Competition is drowned out by sheep with one-star votes, because that’s what happens. Then truly great games end up buried, and you only find them if you know where to look.

    The most something should have is a ‘like’ button. That’s it. So you can see how many people ‘liked’ a thing after downloading it. You can make your own judgement then based upon likes versus downloads. If you’re a smart person, you won’t have a problem with that. But one-star reviews and downvoting is excessively negative, it’s what’s basically turned Reddit into a ghetto under mob rule.

    The other problem is that the mainstream is the new hipster, and people will happily hate on anything unusual. What that means is that if you’re looking for something outside of the mainstream on the app store, then you’ll often have to hunt around as it’s likely been buried under negative reviews. Lovely games, beautiful games that the mainstream just doesn’t get end up with one star reviews, left to rot forever.

    Those of you present with some amount of intellect: Despite how brilliant it was, how do you think To the Moon would have fared if presented to the mainstream, and they’d been given a ‘one star’ button to mash?

    It may be cynical, but it’s the cold, hard truth of the matter.

    Simple as.

    We need to really do away with downvoting and star ratings. I’m tired of seeing things buried just because they’re too different, too unusual, or because it’s something that just goes over the head of the mainstream. Really, saying that the voting system on the Apple app store is good is like saying that Metacritic is good. And we all know that Metacritic is a cancer that the Internet would be better off without.

    #11 2 years ago

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