Newell argues for living room PCs, local game streaming

On the first day of the DICE Summit, Gabe Newell and J.J. Abrams took to the stage to discuss storytelling in games and movies—and to announce that they’re working together on both. Newell had the spotlight to himself on day two, and his keynote address was filled with interesting tidbits about PCs in the living room, local and cloud-based streaming, input hardware, and the future of gaming content. The 36-minute video is worth watching if you have the time.

Newell sees a future for the PC in the living room, and he expects we’ll see a good/better/best series of options there. The baseline “good” devices will use in-home streaming and start at $100, he says. Eventually, the price will go down to zero. Better devices will presumably host games locally; those machines will cram PC guts into console-sized enclosures and be priced about the same as an Xbox or PlayStation. Then, you’ll have higher-end systems for folks willing to pay a premium to get the absolute best experience.

While he doesn’t mention where Steam hardware will fit into the equation, it’s easy to see how the first two tiers could be served by Valve-branded gear. Indeed, Newell points out that the pursuit of mobile markets by chip makers has made it easy to build small, quiet PCs suitable for the living room.

Steam may be a cloud-based service, but Newell believes game streaming should be handled locally. Audiences will become more sensitive to latency over time, he says, and so will new hardware. I suspect that may be a reference to the input technology Valve is working on behind closed doors. Hmmmm.

On the subject of games themselves, Newell reveals that titles that move to free-to-play models typically see a tenfold increase in audience and a threefold increase in gross revenue. He also reveals that the Team Fortress 2 community generates 10 times the amount of content that Valve does for the game, noting that the quality is as good or better than what’s produced internally. Games should be viewed as “productivity platforms for goods and services,” Newell contends—and that has very interesting implications for the future of the PC.

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    • Grape Flavor
    • 7 years ago

    Local streaming would be great if they can make it a high quality experience. I’d like to have the option of using my PC in the living room, but there’s no way I’m going to sink over a grand to duplicate what I’ve already got under my desk.

    $100 streaming box? Yes please.

    • corwin155
    • 7 years ago

    i use two pcs and multiple monitors , and both pcs are hook thru hdmi to a 37 inch lcd tv.
    im a online gamer as well as a steam user .
    1 pc is vista ultimate an the other is Windows 7 Home Premium.
    my vista pc i use as a DVR with a TV card from ATI , the win7 pc is my steam gamer as well as online mmorpg gamer .
    most of my family has a pc hooked to their tvs for few years now , i have used my pc as a tv for very long time well before netflix and Hulu etc.
    so from my point of view , this guy is little behind the time.
    Pcs have been in living room for most pcs user’s for very long time now , when steam finally came out with big picture mode .
    i was like “it’s about time !”
    now most of what he is talking about is how he wants to sell you more stuff related to online gaming

    • End User
    • 7 years ago

    I’m onboard with this notion of a centralized PC that does not run Windows.

    • Wildchild
    • 7 years ago

    Why all the hate on Gaben? It might be the beard, but it actually looks like he’s lost weight.

      • Celess
      • 7 years ago

      No more twinkies.

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      Becuase the fat man is still fat, and we’re still waiting for the next episode in our episodic content.

      Thank you, that is all.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 7 years ago

    After listening to gabe discuss his studios structure in another video it’s pretty obvious why they don’t consistently provide content in the traditional manner. Still potentially the most influential game and software dev out there right now.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Influential because they made Half-Life, yes… Still developers, no. Valve has turned into a content distribution company.

        • TurtlePerson2
        • 7 years ago

        Has the number of games Valve turns out per year increased or decreased as Steam has become successful?

        It has clearly increased, so I don’t see your point.

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          Amazing logic.

          Lets instead look at the decline of games Valve has put out over the years since Half-Life. Most of their assets are acquired. Besides acquired assets all they put out is Portal. For DotA they simply snatched up the guy who made the WC3 mod… Teamfortress team, although that’s arguably their only titles that’s gotten a lot of love over the years. L4D they snatched up the team and the half done work, finished it… and then spit out a second version right away that was how they wanted to do it (which was largely the same as the first and they caught flack for that). I’ve had this debate before though.

          I don’t consider DotA a quality game. L4D was essentially a mod. Portal was original, but the first was admittedly a side project (by Valve) and the second was the game done right, both short and have relatively little replayability. TF2 is the only thing that gets real love. They haven’t touched Half-Life since around the inception of Steam.

          They haven’t put out a REAL bread and butter game since Half-Life (with it’s own engine). I’m actually holding them to standards, not simply counting someones pet project. Like comparing any of their games to ones like BF3, NS2, SC2, LoL. Most of their games since Half-Life play and feel like mods… because they are.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            We’ll add recent Valve layoffs to this too.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Gabe’s the classic example of folks who spend more time in front of a computer monitor than using their house’s front door, or only sees the sun when playing Battlefield 3.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    He should argue for a treadmill first. his giant manboobs are growing in size as we speak! plus, i dont need another sales pitch. my htpc is already in a console form factor.

    Note to Newell: it doesn’t take over a decade to develop half life 3.

    • Sabresiberian
    • 7 years ago

    This is the first time I’ve actually listened to Gabe Newell speak, and I must say I’m overall impressed. He’s a big-picture thinker that does have a lot to bring to the table, and for more than those of us that think in terms of “gaming”. I certainly agree that the PC “belongs” in the living room – my question hasn’t been how we will get there so much as why aren’t we doing it better already? I think this has more to do with old-fashioned thinking about revenue than anything else – networks are afraid of the internet and losing their control over content. Gabe’s way of thinking about revenue might help us expand our personal beliefs AND the beliefs of those who have more monetary and governmental power.

    I don’t entirely agree with what he says about a few things, such as players being more productive than game developers. In quantity that might be true, but in quality, it’s not. And, the number of original ideas out of gamers isn’t that great – they build on the universe created by developers more than anything else.

    I’ve been very critical of him lately because of his comments about Win 8, and I wondered in part what the heck he was thinking when he said Apple could be a serious competitor. Listening to this presentation though has really reminded me how our media outlets pull forth crap out of thin air – and how much they just read each other to get their source material for their columns. One of the worst factors in our society today IS our collective media quality; it is no better than the oft-derided [i<]National Enquirer[/i<] story. My apologies to Gabe for not listening to what he said about Win 8 [i<]in context[/i<]; I think it would have made a much different impression on me. I was willing to believe what I read because of my thoughts about Steam, which in my opinion is too loosely managed to produce the tight quality we need as gamers relying on a central hub - but that isn't a reason so much as an excuse.

    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    He looks like a heart attack waiting to happen and that would totally suck.

    C’mon Gabe, get your meat popsicle health schtick together.

      • sunner
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed.

      Gabe, your a good guy, a real innovator. But some of us are worried wether you’ll be around much longer if you dont go outside and breathe some of God’s fresh air, do some walking, lose some weight.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t understand Gabe! What’s the point of the Steambox?!?! There isn’t even a hardware baseline anymore!

    Why are you pushing this when you can do allll of this with Steam as a piece of software? Shit son, there are tons of nix distros out there. You don’t need to ship them exclusively with a piece of hardware to make them successful. You don’t need to ship Steam with hardware to make it successful.

    WTF is wrong with this picture? Why are people still buying into this and think this is a good idea?

    (I’m not referring to streaming)

    You know, you can’t base your entire hypothesis and direction off one data point, which is what Gabes suggesting with TF2 and the community content for that. Some people actually like buying or playing a game… with their… errr… game. I’m sure we’ll start to see more and more ‘mee toos’ coming out, which will be game shells and developers will expect their community to make the content for them (sorta like what Gabe is doing with the Steam protocol and Steambox).

    Games actually have to get big enough and gain enough recognition to reach a point where they have a nicely sized community with good players in it who enjoy the game that much. TF2 was built over a decade, including the original. There are a lot of steps and history that goes into reaching that tipping point and is NOT part of the norm. There are only a handful of games with communities that creative and that mature (CoD, despite it’s size, is not one of them for instance).

    I can only count a handful of games that could do this. Tribes, Mechwarrior, League of Legends, Mass Effect, Minecraft, Bethesda Games, Blizzard games, Teamfortress 2, and maybe Battlefield series. All of the above have verrry deep roots except for LoL, Minecraft, and BF. LoL did an extremely good job of playing up it’s characters and adding definition to the game rather then simply a gameplay experience, Minecraft was extraordinarily unique and was based on creativity (there wont be another one of these), and Battlefield is on the edge, only being topped by it’s age, but the rest of which EA continually squanders by trying to make it like CoD.

    • auxy
    • 7 years ago

    This really goes further to validate my hypothesis that the Steambox is going to be a Linux-based streaming platform and not a traditional “game console” as most people have been assuming.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    We need a “procrastinating Gabe” meme. Get on it TR minions.

    The captations could something like:
    “I could be releasing HL X
    but i rather do Y

    • bittermann
    • 7 years ago

    For the love of G*d just release HL3…

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    NICE IPAD
    ramble, ramble, ramble.
    FREE COMPUTERS FOR EVERYONE!! HOW THAT’S GOING TO WORK WHEN THERE ARE 7,000,000,000 PEOPLE ALIVE NOBODY KNOWS!! IT MAKES NO SENSE, BUT WHATEVS!

    • henfactor
    • 7 years ago

    Man, he’s a large personality on stage.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      HURR DURR AND HES A FATTY TOO YUK YUK YUK

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        LOLOLOLO I NEVER NOTICED!! YOU’RE RIGHT!!!

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 7 years ago

    So much happening in this space it’s great.

    • themattman
    • 7 years ago

    If Half Life 2: Episode 3 was a launch title, I would preorder this as soon as it was available.

      • 5150
      • 7 years ago

      Take out the “2: Episode” part and maybe.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Sounds like a great way to make sure it never ships.

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    Considering that TF2 is about 2% as good as the original, generating content for it that is better than anything produced internally should be as hard as going to the bathroom after eating ten pounds of habaneros.

      • Wildchild
      • 7 years ago

      Mmmmm habaneros….

        • auxy
        • 7 years ago

        +1 for that. Maybe it’s the Asian genes, but my brother and I will sit down and eat a dozen habaneros and scarcely break a sweat, while his (mostly caucasian and african-american) friends will look on in horror and daintily pick at jalapenos. Haha.

        Now I want peppers. :<

          • cygnus1
          • 7 years ago

          Most of the people I see boasting about their pepper ‘eating’ skills, don’t actually eat the peppers. The injest them, but all they do is gently bite into them and swollow them almost immediately. If you’re not crushing the seeds and everything in your teeth, you’re not eating them.

    • bthylafh
    • 7 years ago

    “The price will go down to zero.”

    Through what, subsidizing it with advertising? No thanks.

      • odizzido
      • 7 years ago

      Steam gets a huge cut out of everything they sell. Giving away hardware could actually increase profits.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      The price of a built in streaming option is what he was talking about. As in, your TV comes with a built in streaming option, so you can just click an option on your remote and bam, you’ve got your PC on your tv.

      Think of the built-in widgets they have now, like netflix and whatnot. When they first started adding them, they bumped up the price of the TV $100-200, nowadays every tv has them (and they’re much less crappy).

      It’ll be something that is a required feature for a modern display, like having HDMI ports (or whatever latest input).

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        Right, so basically rather than decreasing price over time, price points stay the same with features added. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there should also be a choice of getting the same thing as last year at a lower price. Hopefully the market works that out and someone fills the gap for those who don’t want the ‘same price with value-add’ option.

          • Sargent Duck
          • 7 years ago

          not gonna happen. Companies can make more money by adding a $5 part to a $100 item then they can by dropping the price $10. Go and find a proper new car (Civic, Mazda 3, Corolla and better) that gives you the option of manual windows for a cheaper price. Or a tv without a remote for cheaper.

          The mass market demands “features” and “bling” and companies are giving it to them. For a company to offer something that has less features at a lower price? It wouldn’t sell to well.

            • Noigel
            • 7 years ago

            I think somewhere in here is my cellphone paradox. I don’t want to pay for an internet data-plan on a phone. Can a cell service company directly force me to buy an unneeded data-plan? Maybe if they cut all the dumb-phones from their inventory…

            Seems like a really bourgeois way to twist my arm.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      through losing value. /rimshot

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        you’re hot tonight!

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 7 years ago

    At 21:00 he starts talking about games and productivity, and he uses a great line “i[b<]f[/b<] we're r[b<]i[/b<]ght". This is why I [b<]r[/b<]espect thi[b<]s[/b<] guy. Whe[b<]t[/b<]her he's doing things like other people, he doesn't say "this is the right way, I'm right, this is the future". He admits that it might not work, he admits that his plans might fail. He goes into talking about creating frameworks of monetizing and making value from user generated content, which sounds scary in a way...kind of turning mods, levels, artwork, etc into a massive microtransaction infrastructure. I would assume a "99cents, we keep 20cents of it" model...but will there still be free content, or will everything cost something? It really sounds like valve is going to embrace an Oculus-esque or Kinect-like peripheral very soon, especially with the mentioned focus on latency, and "if you have X, you need to think about it during controller design".

      • FakeAlGore
      • 7 years ago

      What you did there. I see it.

        • ColeLT1
        • 7 years ago

        I thought I was having a cleartype problem with my monitor lol… wish I was joking.

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