Newell wants Steam to be a network API

Steam had humble beginnings, but over the years, Valve has turned it into the most popular game distribution service around. One could argue that Steam revolutionized the way games are sold, and the service continues to evolve. Surprisingly, the next step in that evolution may see Valve vacate its role in determining what’s sold via Steam. During a talk at the University of Texas, company founder and gaming luminary Gabe Newell said Valve is becoming a bottleneck between consumers and content creators—and it needs to “get out of that connection as much as possible.”

Newell characterizes Steam’s current form as a “curated store,” but he thinks it would be better as a network API. “Essentially anybody should be able to publish anything through Steam,” he says. Individuals and companies should be able to create their own stores that plug into the Steam backend, and the market will decide which of those venues succeeds. Video of Newell’s full talk is embedded below. The relevant discussion starts around the 44-minute mark.

Although Newell doesn’t lay out a specific plan or timeline for transforming Steam from a Valve-run store into an accessible API, it sounds like that’s the direction the company is heading. Interesting. I’m not sure how a patchwork of Steam-based stores would actually work out—or how much of Steam’s community functionality might be built into an API—but I’m curious to see what would happen if Valve democratized distribution in that way. As Newell points out earlier in the talk, “I do my job, but if I get Reddit to do my job, they’ll do it a lot better.” Thanks to Rock, Paper, Shotgun for the tip.

Comments closed
    • Bensam123
    • 10 years ago

    I’d prefer if they made games.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 10 years ago

    Could Gabe please write a book on business and economics.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 10 years ago

    Gabe, could listen to him all day.

    • Xenolith
    • 10 years ago

    I prefer expert curation, over an amateur hive mind.

    • Sahrin
    • 10 years ago

    “New proprietary API? Sounds great!” – 1999

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 10 years ago

    dunno why ssk got minus’d, but those are good comparison videos. I personally don’t like the responsiveness of Steam, basically everything but the library page is a laggy mess, but that certainly doesn’t mean I like Origin. Probably should have compared it to a 3rd (less controversial) application.

    • Game_boy
    • 10 years ago

    No I mean in any field they chose to enter they would lead.

    • HolmesIV
    • 10 years ago

    Interesting. I feel the reverse way. Buying a physical game — and finding the DVD two years later — is a real pain. For me, Steam DRM is DRM done right, given that you can play offline.

    I do concede that Steam leaves you no [legal] way of selling your games once you’ve purchased them; that doesn’t bother me, but I could see it would bother some.

    • bittermann
    • 10 years ago

    Just release HL3 fatman…

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 10 years ago

    The issue is what the app store implies for window’s future. People don’t want it to become an apple-esque walled garden.

    • uni-mitation
    • 10 years ago

    I feel better when I buy a physical copy of a game than buying it for example on Steam. I got nothing against Gabe. Indeed I might be thankful if he manages to bring Linux gaming into the mainstream which would be a great sight to behold, but I am cautiously optimistic.

    Don’t treat every paying customer like a criminal and it will do wonders for your business. It feels like DRM is more of a nuance to a legitimate customer and might even drive him to pirate such media due to such restrictions.

    Feel free to thank me for pointing out the obvious.

    • superjawes
    • 10 years ago

    Yeah, they totally led that original Counter Strike…which was a mod…

    • FranzVonPapen
    • 10 years ago

    Dear Valve,

    I have a better idea. How about you drop everything in favor of working on the next Half-Life installment?

    • Prion
    • 10 years ago

    Yeah, the last thing I want is r/gaming or /v/ as a group making the kinds of decisions that Valve is now. I’ll just stick to the console gaming ecosystem if Steam gets ruined like that.

    • floodo1
    • 10 years ago

    genius

    • Bensam123
    • 10 years ago

    It’s starting to sound more and more like they just want to shove their job onto other people and get them to do it for them. I wonder if community created content went to their head. Where now they think they can just get people to do whatever they want and skim profits off the top.

    They don’t talk about games, even their new Steambox is simply systems that will be certified from other vendors (when they could do all of it in software). This seems silly and completely asinine. This isn’t even innovation anymore. I CAN do and say the same things. That doesn’t mean they’ll get done or someone will let me skim profits off of them.

    What does Valve even do anymore? I know it’s like developers paradise over there, but they really don’t do a darn thing. DotA is just a carbon copy clone and a PoS to boot (IMO), about the only thing that still gets love is TF2 and it’s been like that for years. Most of that love is coming from the community now too.

    Maybe this is all backlash from Gabe being unable to actually control his employees and get them to do what he wants due to the way Valve is setup. So he has to get the rest of the industry to back him in order for things to change… Still just as silly and asinine. Valve really needs some sort of direction. Freedom is a great thing for employee motivation, too much freedom on the other hand isn’t such a good thing (apparently).

    • Game_boy
    • 10 years ago

    CoD sells 20m a year. I don’t even see any released sales for CS:GO, I’ll assume under 3m once. That’s not up to Valve’s standards. It may be profitable but old Valve led by example.

    • Game_boy
    • 10 years ago

    It only adds twitch viewers if you click on the stream to watch. Anyone counted as a viewer is actively watching.

    I’m not saying LoL is the better game but it’s not really Valve’s thing to be second in a market.

    • Game_boy
    • 10 years ago

    That coL doesn’t want to pick up a CS:GO team even though they’d really like to. The tournaments aren’t getting the required viewers.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 10 years ago

    I think someone has to be in charge or the whole thing goes amok. The sales that keep the whole thing sailing in the right direction would die hard. That would suck.

    • tbone8ty
    • 10 years ago

    if it aint broke don’t fix it gabe

    stop adding more its gonna dilute the wonderful product of steam

    • ClickClick5
    • 10 years ago

    Best joke said today:

    You make fun of Gabe’s weight, he makes fun of your bank account.

    • superjawes
    • 10 years ago

    That would be great, wouldn’t it? Steam offers functionality (community, friends list, achievements, inventories, cloud sync…probably more), and the tradeoff is requiring a connection to Steam servers. Publishers/developers get some DRM for peace of mind, users get games with common functionality. I’d take that deal any day.

    Steam is basically the best mutually beneficial DRM system created so far. It could probably benefit from more development, but as far as common ground is concerned, I think Steam offers the most.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 10 years ago

    And how many players are still logging on to CS: Source instead of CS: GO ?

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    I would be happy if the only DRM on Steam was Steam itself. There’s no technical reason to have other DRM, it’s just the business reason that it’s more trouble taking it out for Steam than leaving it the same as physical distribution. There are some games I’ve been kind of ‘maybe’ about, they come up on a sweet sale and I think I’ll buy them, then I see they include some kind of onerous of kludgy DRM (GFWL I’m thinking of you) so that puts it back into the ‘maybe’ category.

    • cegras
    • 10 years ago

    I might as well also chime in on how you’re wrong: Dota 2 at peak has about 10x as many players (200k) as the next best .. Football manager 2013 or TF2 or something similar. LoL’s popularity is vastly inflated. The game launcher has an embedded twitch client that always makes LoL front page at twitch for added viewers.

    • NeronetFi
    • 10 years ago

    I wonder if this would mean that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – could go on sale on Steam. since it has been on sale everywhere else but steam since its launch.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 10 years ago

    Many software companies abhor the idea of customers being able to communicate easily, see competing products, or get regular updates. All three means more work for them and less money in their pockets. “DLC” doesn’t just exist in gaming (modules/packages is usually the term), and companies rely on customers to “pay for bug fixes” to keep cash flowing.

    • ludi
    • 10 years ago

    The Gabe: I’m bored. I want to play with something else. Maybe the money-printing machine can operate autonomously.

    • spigzone
    • 10 years ago

    EA Store on Steam anyone?

    Gotta be a massive headache to bug fix and update all those games on a continuing basis. Been wondering for a while how the Valve culture works to keep people on that daily grind.

    Looks like Valve is looking to offload that headache directly to the developers and publishers while they keep track of everything else and continue to evolve the service.

    • oliviadub11a
    • 10 years ago
    • FakeAlGore
    • 10 years ago

    As I type this, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the ninth most-played game on Steam. It has more players than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Dota 2 is the most-played game on Steam with over 200,000 currently active players.

    [url<]http://store.steampowered.com/stats/[/url<]

    • bcronce
    • 10 years ago

    PS3: COD peaks about 100k players per day, CS:GO peaks about 30k.

    Safe to say, CS:GO is doing well.

    • superjawes
    • 10 years ago

    What makes you say CS:GO bombed? It’s got a solid Metacritic rating, and the only real criticism I’ve heard of it compares it to CoD/CoD Clones, which CS never really aimed to compete with.

    As for Dota 2, I think you overestimate LoL. Even if LoL pulls bigger numbers, Dota is snagging everyone who doesn’t like LoL (but still likes MOBAs). Those two games will compete for sure in the coming years

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    i like your videos. you did a good job.

    • someuid
    • 10 years ago

    Yeah, I agree. I still won’t buy Maxis games after they snuck DRM onto my system via the free Spore creature creater they put out to build up interest in the full game.

    While some games that end up on Steam do have some other DRM solution included, most do not. The last thing I want to deal with is DRM, let alone a dozen different versions based upon what studio ‘x’ released their game with and all of the DRM solutions trying to hide themselves via restricted services and hidden directories.

    DRM wouldn’t be such a bother if they’d just make it more informative (control panel icon) and easy to access/troubleshoot/remove.

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    yeah, but he’s in a unique position of always being right. no matter what he says or does, people will think its for their benefit.

    • sschaem
    • 10 years ago

    I’m still surprised that we dont have a internet store developed by the software industry.

    Because now you have a store on your OS to install apps, a separate store for your desktop games, a store for your phone, yet another store for you console, maybe even another one if you have a tablet not from the same maker as your phone.. etc… oh.. and also a store for the web apps.

    This make no sense for the consumers, and developers, and publishers.

    The only people where this model make sense, is Apple, Google, Microsoft, Valve,.. as they become the gate keeper with a 30% tax on all transaction and total control on censorship.

    And as we see from Microsoft & Apple.. this is going to spread to ALL electronic purchases.

    This need to change.

    • Game_boy
    • 10 years ago

    Has Valve talked about games recently? Any company can make an API, but only one can make a Portal or Half-Life or TF2.

    Afaik CS:GO bombed and Dota 2 will lose heavily to LoL although will be OK for the time being.

    • superjawes
    • 10 years ago

    Not to mention it was a non-issue to begin with. You could buy games off Steam through any web browser and the Steam client is free, so Microsoft would never have any claim to Steam money unless they got rid of the desktop environment and therefore forced the Steam client onto the app store.

    And overall, I can understand some gripes, but a lot of the Windows 8 hullabaloo is sound and fury signifying nothing.

    • DarkUltra
    • 10 years ago

    I’d rather have a neutral entity, but Valve have still not gone Origin and are very fair. Maybe they could optimize the UI too [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EBASZ5lldE[/url<] Microsoft did a great job with that on Windows 8 at least [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScFAvPN7aJM[/url<] I assume the curators would properly vet their content, but how would it be to hack their stores? Maybe credit card info would be stored with Valve.

    • odizzido
    • 10 years ago

    I can see DRM getting even worse if people can just upload whatever whenever. Game companies will just upload what they have so you will have both the default DRM plus steam DRM every time.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    Oh, the sweet hypocrisy. WINDOWS 8 APP STORE IS TERRIBLE. LET’S MAKE OUR OWN APP STORE.

    I guess this is a little different, but still…I just wish people like Newell wouldn’t act so high-minded when their motives are clearly more basic than they say.

    • Dodger
    • 10 years ago

    I hope this happens and Penny Arcade curates a store.

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    there’s no way they’d give up their golden goose. they’d have some way of making cash, it’d likely just be that they set it up that any transactions that go through give them a cut. in reality, it’d likely be very similar to how it is today, just without greenlighting (which is stupid anyway)

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 10 years ago

    If this happened, would Valve get a cut on use of the api, or would this be some open source, free to use type of deal?

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