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Gabe Newell Wants to Support Linux, Because Windows 8 is a 'Catastrophe' (kotaku.com)
364 points by checoivan on July 25, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 191 comments

I'm all for linux support, but clearly he's more worried about a future with microsoft taking their digital delivery business, not usability.

Or Apple, or Google, or Amazon. Steam is, really, just an app store. And that's becoming part of the platform in the modern world.

Frankly I think the sanest option here would be for MS to simply buy Valve and turn them into the "Windows App Store". But I can't imagine that happening given all the internal churn that would be required to eliminate all their existing online purchase junk.

I'm pretty sure Valve wouldn't sell to MS for any amount of money.

Gabe is a billionaire, and left MS to do his own stuff. And Valve culture sounds incompatible w/ MS culture.

I'd go so far as to say that as long as Gabe Newell is alive, I highly doubt that Valve would sell to anyone at any price.

The man sincerely loves his job, his fans, and especially his team.

Spot on. More likely Google fit, than anyone else. "Engineering rules" culture and almost "flat" hierarchy.

In fact he once worked at Microsoft I believe.

You are correct app stores are becoming standard OS components. I feel like Steam on linux is one step away from a SteamLinuxOS. Which opens up console ideas comprable to the Ouya Andriod powered console that was just buzzing on kickstarter.

Valve is not a public company so there is no shareholders nor investors who can pressure Gabe to sell. There is also absolutely no insensitive to sell for him. Even if he gets tired of Valve he can simply start a new venture by using the insane cash-flow raining directly in his bank account.

The fact that it is a private company is a very interesting aspect of Valve.

I wonder why there are not more companies going that route. It seems to be sort of expected nowadays that every large company must incorporate.

Because most companies hemorrage money. Valve was built after Gabe and the other co-founder got rich as hell from working on microsoft. They didn't need funding while valve was bleeding cash, so they don't have to do that.

Most companies aren't graced with a founder who was already rich.

Why would MS pay 3 billion dollar for Valve, if they can just abuse their position and disallow Steam on Win8, and then just steal the market.

Which is exactly what they are doing, with the win8 store policy, metro sandbox, and pricing strategy for the x86/classic-desktop version.

Pretty much everything MS buys gets ruined, so I'd rather that didn't happen.

They've messed up some, but they've also hit grand slams with others. MS-DOS comes to mine. PowerPoint is another. Hotmail. Bungie. FAST Search.

All of those are much more successful than they were before Microsoft acquired them.

I don't really agree with the GP, but Bungie is actually a pretty apt comparison in this case. Ask them what they think about the acquisition...

I don't think they have too much to worry about. Will take a lot to get gamers to switch to a Microsoft app store. Granted Microsoft could probably eat away at the very casual end of gaming.

Gamers are (I think) attracted to Steam because of it's convenience and price. Many gamers will pass up games on alternative dd platforms because they can't get the game to register on steam.

If Microsoft provides competitive pricing, fast downloads and good key management (easy key activation, no PC activation limits, DRM-free options, good online/offline story) I could see people switching away from Steam.

Amazon is actually trying quite hard in this area - their download application could use work, but they have pricing and good DRM policies in place. Plus, their community outreach is mind boggling (especially considering the other DD outlets do none at all).

Microsoft would have to get the community features right too. Also perception, Valve are well liked by gamers whereas Microsoft would have to work really hard to build that up.

The difference being only one of them owns the platform steam gets practically all of their revenue from.

It might be sane for Microsoft, but it would be an abysmal turn of events for Valve.

Can someone explain to me how the App Store model is a viable business model? It seems like, at some point, it just becomes a race to the bottom in terms of the cut of sales revenues, or an abusive oligopoly of stores that force burdening arbitrary rules and limitations down peoples' throats.

Isn't it really just a modern day record label?

The title should be: "Gabe Newell Wants to Support Linux, Because Windows 8 is a 'Catastrophe' [for steam]".

Steam is, from a user perspective, a video game marketplace on PC. In Win8, they will have to compete with the built-in windows marketplace, where most games will published directly. In other words, Win8 is a catastrophe for them as it's endangering their business.

I can tell you that it would be very hard for Microsoft to make me choose to use their app store over Steam without resorting to anti-competitive tactics. Steam, from a gamer's perspective, does almost everything right, and I have a huge number of games "stored" there. Then again, laziness might trump for most people.

I don't understand that perspective, and I honestly think there is a bit of a double standard going on here. People hate on Origin and 'meh' the rest of the competition, but are in love with Steam. I know people who will only buy games if they're on Steam, it's bizarre.

Your games are locked into steam, and they may never be removed from there. You own none of them. The only way to play them is to open Steam (presuming it's up / not horribly busy / you have an internet connection^) and be shown their market place. There is no way to 'export' your 'purchases'.

Contrast that with other sites where you buy the game and get to download an actual installer, which you can do whatever you like with.

Steam could do a lot better for users, but by locking people into their service they do a lot better for themselves.

^There is an offline mode, yes. Except you have to put it into offline mode while you still have an internet connection, which sucks (what if your internet goes down due to a power cut / accident / misconfiguration at the ISPs end?), and it's not supported by all games.

It's a convenient library of games on an application built specifically for that purpose. It keeps games updated and doesn't get angry about mods, it's also relatively easy to tell which games you have played and which you haven't. It also has superior sales to other places (such as Origin). People like having everything easy to find and in one place. Amazon's service is superior (in terms of DRM, sales, etc), but it's almost impossible to tell what games you have played/completed and the UI is not nearly as pretty. It looks like they took the order list and tried to update it for digital downloads.

Basically, Steam knows what product they are selling, they sell it cheaply, they sell more of it in one place than other (like GoG and GMG), they let you mount games that aren't Steam games into it to help keep it organized. Other services simply haven't caught up and gamers seem willing to accept limitation in exchange for convenience. It's an easy target for disruption, but no one has managed to yet, Amazon is working hard but their UI is not up to snuff.

Also, achievements, friends, and groups are a nice touch that doesn't exist elsewhere in the same quality or quantity.

Don't forget the friends list, in-game/cross-game chat, and growl-style notifications when your friends start playing something so you can hop in a game with them. All those other things you mentioned are huge as well, and I just don't see Microsoft replicating all of these things well. Cross platform is also nice, where applicable. Having to be online and have steam running before playing is the only major complaint I have.

They have already implemented all of those things for the xbox, it can't be that difficult.

Have you ever played a game with Windows Live on PC?

In addition to the other posts, Valve has built up a solid amount of good will with the gaming crowd. They might not have the best support, but their actions up until this point suggest they take gaming seriously and just don't see all their users as a revenue stream, like you see with EA and Microsoft. They aren't beholden to shareholders so as long as guys like Gabe are around, people are less worried that Valve will start fucking with customers in the way you see other companies do.

Installers are an annoyance when game patches are released. Steam makes game updates seamless.

Right now, the benefits of Steam far outweigh the fact that your games can't be exported. I guess time will tell if that will change. It's not like Steam has always been the darling of gamers.

There is no way to 'export' your 'purchases'.

Some games have license keys, which work if you do a manual install. Some games also work fine outside of steam if you activate the game executable from the filesystem (all of the admittedly few I've tried have worked this way)

Offline mode tends to activate automatically if your internet dies.

The worst problem isn't competing with the Microsoft marketplace--it's not being able to compete. And that's exactly what Windows 8 Rt threatens. Microsoft has decided to emulate Apple and be evil on tablets.

Steam is already competing with very strong entrants (Amazon, Gamestop/Impulse, Gamersgate), and seems to be doing well. Microsoft hasn't exactly hit the ball out of the park with Xbox Games-on-Demand, I'm not sure how much they really have to worry here.

I don't think most games can be published in the windows 8 app store. They have very strict guidelines about the types of apps that will be listed. Specifically, only metro-style, full screen apps that use a specific subset of the .NET framework. I don't know of any games right now that would fit that requirement, certainly not the types of games that make steam popular. Especially when you consider the most popular games are exclusive to steam.

According to msdn, it is possible to create marketplace apps using C++/DirectX which is pretty much what games need:


They can change that

That's not what matters. What matters is whether or not they can change it in time.

I think he means that Microsoft can change that requirement.

They seem to be targeting Ubuntu, and you can buy most proprietary Ubuntu games on the Ubuntu Software Center already.

Isn't that already the same kind of competition? If a game is on the software center it has no online DRM so I would absolutely get it there over Steam if it was for the same price.

> In Win8, they will have to compete with the built-in windows marketplace, where most games will published directly.

Has there been any talk from major publishers/developers that they're actually looking at the Windows 8 marketplace as a serious option? Steam seems to be very friendly towards developers/publishers in terms of pushing out updates, cert, advertising. Plus, Steam has pretty good support for customers. What will the Windows 8 marketplace offer or do better to provide the sort of incentive needed to attract big players?

I don't understand this sentiment. If you don't like Metro, launch the desktop and forget it even exists. For rarely launched apps, hit the Win key and start typing the name and for frequently used apps, pin to your taskbar. Steam still works exactly the same on Windows 8.

>If you don't like Metro, launch the desktop and forget it even exists.

Been using W8 on my desktop at work for about a month now. If only it were that easy.

The big problem is that W8 is insanely inconsistent. Trying to change system settings can result in having to navigate a byzantine maze guiding you through new Metro interfaces with old-school control panel applets interspersed throughout.

The Control Panel still exists, but there's also a Metro PC settings interface, and trying to search will give you some mix of the two. It's just a nightmare to navigate.

It's more that the entire user experience sucks than it has anything to do with any single application.

I got the same impression so far. Take the Metro Windows Update for example. It failed for for me repeatedly without giving any reason until I found the same functionality within the "classic" Control Center where I had to allow the system to reboot in order to install the updates. This is simply a horrible experience in every way.

>It failed for for me repeatedly without giving any reason until I found the same functionality within the "classic" Control Center where I had to allow the system to reboot in order to install the updates

Wasn't this on the Beta product? Why is everyone talking as if it's on the RTM version?

Because when was the last time a Microsoft RTM version fixed any beta bugs?

I would not go that far.

The point is that people are concerned about shortcomings in the beta because they do not have confidence in Microsoft to fix those problems. Whether that lack of confidence is justified or not is another matter.

No, the point is the Release Preview has been out for a month (months?) and has fixed a lot of the issues that are being mentioned here.

This is just one example of a general flawed concept and certainly beyond the scope of a "bug" that could be fixed within a week or two.

I don't think we'll see a unified experience until Windows 9.

I haven't looked at the release previews yet but I can only imagine. The antique-looking Windows 3.1 font control panel persisted into Windows 2000, so I can't believe that we'll be rid of the trappings of more recent versions of Windows anytime soon.

I also installed the preview to see how it works and after many frustrating experiences I now found the perfect way to use Windows 8 on my laptop.

When it boots I immediately launch a remote session to my windows 7 desktop.

Am I the only one who likes having a gorgeous desktop wallpaper, with icons arranged in clusters according to usability? Or to have overlapping windows?

Everything I've heard about Metro suggests limited customisation of the desktop and apps that insist on being full-screen or some guaranteed fraction. All of this feels like evolution in reverse to me.

I've never used Windows 8, but the stories coming out make me never want to.


It is unfortunate that this kind of information has been spread so widely about Windows 8, but it's just not true.

The desktop is still there, icons are still there, overlapping windows are still there, the only thing gone is the start menu, replaced with the metro launch screen that can launch both desktop and metro apps.

There are still some issues with the two different environments, especially the difference in look and feel, but it still works well.

>It is unfortunate that this kind of information has been spread so widely about Windows 8, but it's just not true.

Well, it is and it isn't. Native Metro apps do more or less behave the way he's describing. The thing is, almost no native Metro apps exist right now, so you'll spend the vast majority of your time in traditional desktop mode anyway.

Nothing is forcing you to use Metro. In fact, only apps that have an UI designed specifically for Metro will use the Metro environment. Everything else will run in windows outside of Metro, just like they do in Windows 7.

Only the new start screen (which replaces the start menu) will expose you to Metro. But in my experience with the Release Preview, this start screen is pleasant to use and still allows for keyboard search like in Windows 7 as well as keyboard navigation.

You can still use your desktop in precisely the same way you're doing right now. Nothing has changed there.

>Nothing is forcing you to use Metro. In fact, only apps that have an UI designed specifically for Metro will use the Metro environment.

What happens when the majority of apps you want to use are Metro apps?

That's not the case. Like, it's not like they're removing desktop apps and reinstating them as Metro apps. If you decide to exclusively use Metro apps, then I guess that's your problem. Otherwise, I don't really understand what point you're trying to make.

I seriously, seriously question in half of the people attempting to spread shit about Windows 8 here have ever seriously used it for more than 3 minutes in a VM.

Only Metro apps work on Windows RT. Developers want the largest audience possible, so it makes sense that most of them will eventually want to target Windows RT, which is clearly what Microsoft is going for.

It's going to get harder and harder to avoid metro apps.

Nobody is forcing anyone to use Windows 8 either. And a significant portion of people are taking the opportunity not to.

For rarely launched apps, hit the Win key and start typing the name

There should be an app for that. It could be called... oh, I don't know, how about COMMAND.COM?

Not many application executables in Windows are in your PATH, so cmd is not going to find them. Even for the ones that are, you have to type the name of the .exe which is not necessarily obvious; eg. Visual Studio -> devenv.exe.

It was a joke, son

What are you talking about? This is how every person I've ever observed ever uses the Start Menu in Windows Vista or 7.

I'm not sure of his reasoning, but he is not saying that Windows 8 is a catastrophe for users directly.

I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we'll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people.

Sounds more like all it is a problem for all of the many players in the Windows space. Now of course Microsoft can do what they want with their ball (subject to DOJ purview), but so can everyone else, including companies like Valve who have been a major influence in keeping the PC relevant for an entire market.

If Steam and 2,500 games were available on Linux, that would make a huge case for that platform in the home.

They won't be able to just jump 2,500 DirectX and DirectSound titles off the Windows API onto Wine. Maybe if they spend a few million dollars working on bringing Wine up to date with DX11, and then they have to deal with all the development houses not switching off Visual Studio and DX12 in the coming years, because they won't want to make the jump off the M$ platform.

There's already a pretty good amount of Steam games that have native Linux versions[1], at least one developer has already announced a port of an existing game to Linux through Steam[2], and the company that handles a lot of Mac "ports" (via a Wine-like layer) has a Linux version of said layer pretty much ready to go[3].

It's not gonna be a wasteland by any measure.

[1] http://steamlinux.flibitijibibo.com/index.php?title=Native_G...

[2] http://www.joystiq.com/2012/07/25/serious-sam-3-bfe-runs-scr...

[3] TransGaming makes Cider: http://transgaming.com/cider and Cedega/GameTree Linux: http://gametreelinux.com/

What would cause OEMs to leave the market, other than mass migration by users because of a bad user experience?

Win8 is targeting touch, which means it's targeting tablets. It's nearly impossible for a Win8 tablet to compete when it has licensing overhead that Apple and Android devices don't have.

Steam has little to worry about in regards to the Windows App Store. They just need to keep pushing platforms, keep securing great titles, and RELEASE ANOTHER DAMN HALF LIFE 2 EPISODE. Exclusively on Steam of course.

Steam is pretty great and it's not easy to replicate. See "Google Play."


Probably not going to happen before they release their new gaming console. They need a good launch title and you know how long it takes them to build a game.

They have stated, publicly and clearly, that they are not working on a game console.

Interesting, I didn't realize that. Thanks for informing me. I guess 'hype' travels a lot faster than truth.

I could write Steam in Lisp in about 10 minutes

The value of an application is more than the sum of its lines of code.

Oh Really? Let me troll my friend in peace.

I'm sorry, HN isn't AIM or Facebook. There's no way for anyone to know who you know unless you tell us, and even then I fail to see how the comment is relevant.

The comment is irrelevant.

It's a catastrophe for Valve if third party markets like Steam don't fit seamlessly into the future of Windows.

I feel gamers are much more bound to Steam than they are to the Windows platform. If a game works on Linux, they could care less if it is under Windows. Most of them only use their PC for gaming, web browsing, video watching, music playing, and document writing anyway, and Ubuntu does all of that as good or better than Windows anyway.

They will happily Wubi install Ubuntu over their Windows disk the day their steam library works on it if Steam pushes them to switch. Getting the library working and the graphics drivers up to par is the bigger problem.

And it's a catastrophe for users if third party markets like Steam don't fit seamlessly into the future of Windows.

However steam will continue to work just like it does now on the desktop.

It's disingenuous for Gabe to talk about how much of a 'Catastrophe' Windows 8 is going to be or how touch screens are "Short-term" but leave out the fact that these fears stem from it's possible impact on Steam's bottom line

Long-term, yes.

Short-term, if they can still get their games through Microsoft's own market, they won't care.

I think that the short-term is where Microsoft needs to incorporate 3rd party stores. People already have catalogs, some of them quite large, in Steam or other digital distribution services. Microsoft will either have to attract users who weren't previously attracted to digital distribution, or they'll have to support the investments that customers have already made.

Once they level the playing field (by allowing users to use Stream or the MS App Store without penalty), Microsoft can start to try and draw users away from 3rd party services. However, in the short term, it's hard to imagine them drawing users from steam and forcing those same users to abandon their investment in steam.

That's an interesting idea. It seems that a software marketplace is just going to become a part of the computing platform. It would be cool if some platforms would open up their marketplaces to other vendors. The "Steam" store in the Windows App Store. It makes the marketplace more like a Mall and individual providers more like stores.

It may or may not happen, but I like the idea of having multiple options.

I use Linux. I am on Ubuntu right now. I just wish I could figure out how to get the Radeon/whatever graphics drivers right on this Lenovo Ideapad. I gave up.

I am rooting for Linux, WebGL, and other stuff. Whatever can help take down Windows is great. If Windows can actually take down Windows, even better.

The radeon driver is open source. It should just work, assuming it can work. (Maybe it doesn't support your card currently?)

If you are talking about fglrx then I forsee nothing but pain for you. I doubt even Valve's encouragement can improve that situation.

Its working now! I finally figured out what the issue was, thanks!

Problem was that awhile back I think that Chrome wouldn't run WebGL and I thought it was a driver issue, so I installed the fglrx crap, which not only didn't make Chrome run WebGL but it completely screwed me, and I never properly removed it until now.

Ah, that'll do it. Glad you got it figured out though.

I just wish I could figure out how to get the Radeon/whatever graphics drivers right on this Lenovo Ideapad. I gave up

The fact that things like this are still an issue makes me think that it will take more than just Steam to make desktop Linux more than a tiny niche in the gaming market.

Au contraire, having Steam available might be just enough to push for better driver support from nVidia and AMD.

I honestly hope so. Even though I don't use Linux on the desktop anymore (I'm Mac, mostly) I appreciate the pressure that competition brings.

With Steam on Linux there will be more pressure for GPU vendors to clean up their drivers mess.

It seems like sbierwagen's linked article makes this a bit clearer than the op.

I think that the fear he has of Windows 8 is not that Valve will have competition or that steam will lose market share. it already is fighting similar offerings from a few different angles. He seems concerned that windows 8 represents a step back from the open platform model of windows. That it signals an attempt from Microsoft to build their own walled garden to counteract Apple's. This would inevitably be bad for third parties who make their living in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Linux then solves the problem because the platform is open. Not in terms of cost but of access

My gut feeling is they have more compelling reasons to port Steam to Linux. Look at the growth in the number of relatively powerful personal computing devices (smartphones, tablets, etc) that don't run Windows. It's also been suggested that Valve is looking at developing their own game console. It is reasonable to spend some effort making their system less tied to the Windows API.

After the Vista Candy shop its toy blocks now...

- haven't looked under the hood of W8 yet but if MS wants to limit me what I can install on my computer / take over boot / BIOS control this one will certainly find no home on any of my computers.

Call me old fashioned but if I go to a shop and buy a computer (or have it send to my place) I actually want to own it and not find a clause on line 432'678 of the license agreement that it's now completely legal that a Seattle Corp has pwned my computer.

None of those things are true. Microsoft will not limit what you can install, take over your bios, or control your boot. In fact, windows 8 is the first windows to play nice with Linux boot loaders. Windows RT (aka tablets) is the only space where bootloaders will be locked. Don't get me wrong, locking it down anywhere is a shitty thing to do, but spreading misinformation is also a shitty thing to do.

Secure Boot and signed kernels called. Microsoft is pushing OEMs to sell laptops in the next several years with forced secure boot for x86 platforms.

On x86, it's mandatory for OEMs to allow the user to opt-out of Secure Boot. So even if your new laptop has Secure Boot enabled, you can simply reboot into the EFI settings and flip a switch to turn it off.


Most EULA's contain a clause that says "This EULA may be changed by us at any time without notice to you. Your continued use of the product after any such change constitutes acceptance of such terms."

Seems like, if you don't have a script polling their website hourly for EULA updates, they can insert terms like "By continuing use of our product, you agree that we now own your computer, your house, your bank accounts, your first-born son and your immortal soul." And you'll have no choice but to pay up.

I'm surprised I haven't seen more headlines about companies trying this kind of s*.

EULAs can contain arbitrary demands, but that doesn't mean they're enforceable. The particular statement "without notice" sounds like something that would simply be ignored in court.

>haven't looked under the hood of W8 yet but if MS wants to limit me what I can install on my computer / take over boot / BIOS control this one will certainly find no home on any of my computers.

Thank god. I was afraid we'd get through this thread without the typical misinformed FUD about SecureBoot.

Along with another HN submission ("Changing My Mind On Microsoft"[1]), Newell's comments are important in and of themselves because of what they represent: a tectonic shift in the business community's perception of Microsoft.

Business executives are now openly doubting the future relevance of the Windows platform!


[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4295711

Back in my more involved gaming days, Steam was a catastrophe for PC gaming. Other than picking up a game at a good price and automatically getting game patches from Steam, there was really nothing great about it. They had virtually no support. Your best bet was the forums. Throttled downloads were really fun too. Especially when you download a 5-gig game pack and have to sit there and resume your download every 5 minutes. Constant startup issues. I was patiently waiting for Battlefield 3 and was delighted to find out that EA decided to ditch Steam for this release, however their own Origin platform wasn't much better. Honestly, If i had to pick between slightly higher prices at the stores and Steam - i'd pick the stores. With app stores rolling in all over different platforms i'm afraid to say there is going to be very little room for Steam and this is probably a good thing. I'd rather see a good remake of Counter Strike and Half Life from Valve, than a new gaming platform.

Throttled game updates? For as long as I've had my present Internet connection, I download updates from Steam with a median speed of 6 MB/s.

I've never had an issue with throttled downloads. Doesn't your ISP have a Steam mirror?

Also, Counter-Strike: GO is being released on Aug 21. http://store.steampowered.com/app/1800/

The last game i purchased from Steam was roughly a little over a year ago and up to that point any game downloads would take days. I'm not on any kind of uber-fast connection (10mb) and never had any issues with any issues streaming or downloading content from any other service.

P.S. I have heard of CS:GO which is nothing more than old CS:Source with improved environment. It isn't a bad game by any means, but it is lagging behind multiplayer shooters like CoD, Battlefield.

The last game i purchased from Steam was roughly a little over a year ago and up to that point any game downloads would take days. I'm not on any kind of uber-fast connection (10mb) and never had any issues with any issues streaming or downloading content from any other service.

You're the first person I've ever heard say that Steam throttled downloads, and I've heard and had a lot of complaints about Steam in the past. That's just not one of them. In fact, the only thing close to throttling I've heard is users wanting the ability to manually throttle game downloads.

I'm not saying your lying, I'm just not sure that it was as a result of something on Steam's end.

The general feedback from the CS community has been either that GO is a good improvement, or that it is too different to its predecessors (Source and even more so the original CS, 1.6).

Obviously BF and CoD offer single player gaming, but for multiplayer there's a good case to be made (and one that often is made) that CS out-does both of them in terms of game play.

and saying he thinks the future of interaction will be through computerized wristbands

How far off are computerised wristbands?

Love the fact that he votes with feet.

Many people say that they have this or that application that keeps them clinging to windows and for me it has always been games. If it weren't for games, I would never use windows on any of my personal machines again, let alone purchase it. Linux distros don't even sell their products yet somehow are better thought out than any version of windows.

But they do sell the software. Either directly as a managed solutions to big companies, or very indirectly implement something per request or to solve an internal need. Or even offering support or getting some features sponsored. You may not give them money, but there are people / companies that do.

It makes sense for corporations to pay for support if it costs less than hiring a team of people to do it. If that is the strategy a company uses to make their products more accessible to me, I'm all for it.

It makes sense: with Linux support Valve could run roll Steam with a barebones distro creating their own OS (SteamOS?) to run on top of the rumored SteamBox, with better control of resources and no need to pay licenses to MSFT.

The year of the Linux desktop?

The year of the Linux desktop is next year. The same as it has always been.

It is one thing porting Steam to Linux and quite another making actual games available on Linux. Take OSX for example,a platform where Steam has been available for awhile now. and yet around half of most played titles on Steam are not available on OSX. What is more - Dota2 valve's own game is not available.

"According to Newell, there's a guy in Kansas making virtual hats for $150,000 a year. $150,000 a year."

Has anyone been able to get Windows 8 to work on VirtualBox for Mac? I got it installed but can't figure out how to make it work. Running W8 in a VM really demonstrates how silly hiding the Start menu in the bottom-left pixel.

I love this. Gabe rules.

hmmmm, is the secret Valve tv/games console Linux based?

I think the headline of the article is pretty misleading as he means that Windows 8 is a catastrophe for Steam because of the Windows 8 app store. Looks like everyone's upvoting the article because they seem to think that Gabe meant that Windows 8 will be a failure.

Instead of having to go through Steam's distribution, games will have the option of going directly to the Windows 8 app store and get featured there, not to mention XBox Live coming to Windows.

Anyone know what Steam's cut for game devs is? Microsoft is charging between 20 to 30%, so Steam seems to be very worried about their revenue stream and thus supporting Linux as a hedge.

Of course the regular desktop Steam client will keep working, but not on Windows RT ARM devices. Also, doesn't the WinRT support full DirectX?

Ref. http://www.joystiq.com/2009/10/07/randy-pitchford-on-steam-v...

Says Pitchford, "It would be much better if Steam was its own business." If Valve spun off the content delivery system, it would also remove the perceived conflict of interest Pitchford takes umbrage with. "Steam helps us as customers, but it's also a money grab, and Valve is exploiting a lot of people in a way that's not totally fair," Pitchford says. "Valve is taking a larger share than it should for the service it's providing. It's exploiting a lot of small guys."

Steam's cut is 30%. However, for that 30% you get to update your game whenever you want, and virtually as often as you want. By that I mean they don't impose any direct limits on how often you update, but the general rule is no more than once a week aside from hotfixes and the like. I'm not aware of any digital marketplace that gives you this much control, especially as video game updates will often be hundreds of megabytes in size. Contrast this with Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, which charges you $40k for each additional update after the first free update. [1]

Edit: It is worth nothing that if a user's game was activated with a retail key, Steam takes no cut. This means that you are effectively getting service for that user for free.

You also get Steam Cloud, which allows you to store your users' configuration and saved game files to be accessed anywhere, their peer-to-peer networking API which provides NAT punching. Then there's matchmaking, stats/achievements, Steam Community (their social network), and several other "Steamworks" features. [2]

Edit: Microtransactions is another big one, also known as in-app purchases. The online brochure for Steamworks is worth a read if you're interested in any of this: http://www.steampowered.com/steamworks/index.php

I haven't read a lot about Windows 8's app store, especially concerning Xbox Live, but Steam still has a lot to offer to developers.

[1] http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/07/microsoft-comes-under-...

[2] https://partner.steamgames.com/documentation/api

Wow. $40,000 to push an update. Microsoft should put this into practice themselves and refund customers whenever Windows needs a patch.

I believe this approach raises the overall quality of games in the Marketplace. A developer on Xbox Live Marketplace will be less inclined to rush out a broken game and release updates every day until it works. If they have to pay $40k/update, they have an incentive to do it right the first time, with some leeway to fix unforeseen bugs (the free first update).

That's not very good for small developers that may want to iterate over their games or provide extra content for their users. Developers who simply do not have the resources to test in a wide variety for hardware, or to get their game just perfect for the first update. And as a user, I love having access to games by these developers. Steam would lose a lot of value to me if it wasn't such a helpful platform for small devs.

And that's without even getting into updates that provide extra content. Steam's flagship game, Team Fortress 2, updates at least once a month with extra (free) content. That generates mayor amounts of good will towards the devs, and it would be completely unsustainable if the developers had to pay $40k to update, and another $40k to fix any bugs or imbalances in the update.

MS has pretty strict size restrictions on title updates, since they have to fit in cache for users with no real hard drives. This means you're not going to deliver new content through patches anyway - you have to distribute it through DLC instead. This leads to about a million other problems, primarily when it comes to compatibility between players online who may or may not have the DLC, duplicating content since you're required to not have dependencies between your DLC, and the fact that MS frowns on free DLC.

I think small developers that use XNA and publish to the Indie section of the Marketplace don't have to worry about $40k patch fees.

>Developers who simply do not have the resources to test in a wide variety for hardware, or to get their game just perfect for the first update

We're talking about the XBox. There's only one hardware device to test against.

Also, the first update is free.

I was arguing that this policy would be bad for Steam or other PC marketplace services. It's possible than on a closed system such as the XBox some of the disadvantages of this are alleviated or solved. I still think charging the dev for adding extra content for his game is a very bad idea, though. Team Fortress 2 for the XBox sucks for it, for example. Regular updates is a good model for the user, and it hurts the user to charge for content that would otherwise be free. Alas, I know that helps greatly reduce the number of bugs in the system.

Or they can ignore patching bugs after the first few weeks. No additional content either.

I'm pretty sure pushing an update to all Windows users costs way more in bandwidth alone.

Excellent point. I wonder what the actual cost is to push a Service Pack update to all users (those that update, at least).

Apple's app stores, on both iOS and Mac, both host games and allow unlimited free updates to them.

But there's still a major chokepoint: Apple's review process. Does Steam have a similar review/approval loop? I would guess not, since they don't allow just anyone to start selling on Steam like the "mainstream" app stores do.

It used to be that Valve had to approve and push your update out for you, though they did this typically within the same day you sent it to them. Now, you press the big red button so to speak. This also means you can push out updates outside of Valve's business hours. Great for emergencies...

They also have branches, so that you can release betas for your users to opt-in and test.

The windows app store gives unlimited free updates. It's only xbla for Xbox where they charge for updates.

Do you know if there is an approval process?

No, but based on the windows phone store I guess that there will be.

>Steam's cut is 30%. However, for that 30% you get to update your game whenever you want, and virtually as often as you want. By that I mean they don't impose any direct limits on how often you update, but the general rule is no more than once a week aside from hotfixes and the like.

Is there any reference for that?

Officially, they are flexible on the actual rate, but I believe 30% is pretty standard.


Edit: Oh, and PC Gamer has a good bit about the update process.


I have a game on Steam; this information is not inaccurate. Although now there is a new system in place to allow for unlimited updates no matter how often.

What are you basing this on? The quote in both the linked article and the AllThingsD piece indicates that he said "I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space." He isn't just talking about Valve.

A business catastrophe, not a usability or market catastrophe. "I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people."

Possibly even good for consumers in that case. It's not really an ideal situation that software distribution would be a high-margin business in the first place. Typically you want distribution and infrastructure businesses to be competitive spaces with prices driven down towards costs, since they're just overhead from the perspective of getting stuff from sellers to buyers. For example, container shipping and grocery stores are not high-margin businesses.

On the other hand, Microsoft's new 20-30% cut doesn't sound like very low-margin distribution infrastructure either...

It's not really an ideal situation that software distribution would be a high-margin business in the first place. Typically you want distribution and infrastructure businesses to be competitive spaces with prices driven down towards costs, since they're just overhead from the perspective of getting stuff from sellers to buyers.

Does "low-margin" for software really make sense? These aren't physical goods that have a inherent value. The "cost" of any given piece of software is the price you are willing to pay the people building it.

I was thinking just of margins on the distribution part, not the creation of software. Getting an app from the creator to the purchaser seems like a logistics/retail type business, like Wal-Mart is for physical goods, and high margins on that just means more overhead for everyone (except the operator of the distribution network).

You know what keeps people selling software in a market plagued by piracy and a confusing array of operating system versions and hardware configurations?


If Microsoft takes that away, they'll bail in the biggest possible way. Good luck getting Adobe to retail through your app store. They'll probably make a Linux port as a big fuck you to Ballmer.

He also said "I think we'll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market."

He's clearly not just talking about the app store cutting into margins. Why else would OEMs exit the market if not because of usability issues/market collapse?

The OEMS are in a tough place. They have to compete with actual HW innovation ( apple ) on one side, and with subsidized hardware on the other side ( amazon ). And if they succeed, all the margins go to Microsoft.

At least, in the case of Android, they can add value, or extra revenue streams. In the case of linux, the open nature, would provide a competitive edge.

Why would any OEM be interested in selling win8 devices? If microsoft is going the way of the console ( like apple and amazon are doing ), shouldnt microsoft be paying them instead of the other way around?

The reason why he thought it would be a business catastrophe is because Windows 8 is moving to be a closed ecosystem, instead of the traditional open ecosystem of the Wintel duopoly. (Which is what allowed Linux to flourish, and allowed an awful lot of innovation, including all of the Linux servers at Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc.)

You're right, and I also wouldn't trust anything he says about Windows 8 since he has a vested interest in keeping easy distribution restricted to Steam. He will face no such competition on Linux.

The headline is misleading. He was talking very much, from his vested interest point of view. He was not dismissing the quality or value of win8 for consumers.

But he is allowed to be a bit upset: Steam is effectively not allowed on Metro.

And there was loyalty between Valve and Microsoft. In general, he dislikes the verticalisation in the market; how consumer devices will all be (media,game,app) consoles. But to see Microsoft make this move, just hurst more, when your company has invested so much in the windows ecosystem. And lets not forget that without Steam, pc gaming would have died completely 5 years ago.

Personally, i dont like it either. I think its anticompeteive in nature, and bad for innovation. Appearantly operating system vendors are becoming the new cable companies, charging for access to consumers.

But unless one of them (apple, google, microsoft, amazon) has a monopoly, its not illegal to operate in this manner.

Nitpick: without Steam and without any equivalent of it, PC gaming would have (probably) died 5 years ago.

Your sentence is like saying that without Internet Explorer, we would still be paying for internet browsers. It's praising Microsoft for what it did and mysteriously assuming that in absence of it, no one else would bring the cost of browsers down.

This is my nitpick with "what if X didn't exist" scenarios: people imply that nothing would fill the vacuum.

Another example I just made up: "If Linux didn't exist, we wouldn't have a free, open source OS". I'm pretty sure FreeBSD or something like that would grow like Linux instead. Not saying it would be better or worse, because, frankly, I don't know.

Linux brought a large new demographic (hobbyists, students) to Unix at a time that it was expensive, little used and dying. The Linux movement, as opposed to the Linux software, was a true revolution and not easily replaced. Effective movements are a lot harder to build than effective software.

Another counterexample would be the internet itself. It could very easily have gone wrong and we would have been stuck with the likes of Compuserve and AOL.

this might shed some light on the why Linux beat out BSD. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USL_v._BSDi

Fair enough. It's a statement i can not prove.

I don't think i'm wrong, but it's hard to argue about alternative history, right? It's all pure speculation. You are right about that.

Ubuntu Software Center isn't a direct competitor?

If anything he risks footing a lot of the effort to get developers onto Linux (see: Valve openly talking about working with GPU manufacturers to improve the quality of Linux drivers) only to have it benefit people that choose to distribute outside of Steam.

Ubuntu Software Center isn't a direct competitor?

No, because it's DRM-less.

I was going to reply that UBC doesn't support paid apps, but apparently now it does.

That said, Valve appears to be going for a play based on being a cross-platform app store (Windows, OS X, Linux). It's not obvious to me that they can add much value that way (after you've gone to the work to implement support for three platforms, submitting to three app stores is not a lot of overhead) but we'll see.

A cross-platform store is something that appeals to the consumer rather than the game developer I would think?

Definitely in my case - I play a lot of my Steam games on both platforms. Gaming PC at home, and Macbook Pro on the go.

I'm also of the opinion that the problems I've seen are too deep to realistically be fixed in the few months left before W8 goes RTM.

Why do they have to be fixed before then?

Because they're fundamental UI issues that Microsoft generally won't touch after a general release.

I thought we were talking about Steam which is made by Valve.

If you're using multiple platforms, I could see the benefit of not having to enter your credit card multiple times. But honestly, if you're going to buy a program on your PC, then walk over to your Mac and buy it again, do you really care if you're buying it from the same store both times?

I know that Steam lets you take your games from one machine to another, but I don't expect that to be the norm for most app stores.

This is not how that works -- if you buy a game for windows on steam, the mac version is free. I've tried this personally, and I expect the same will be true for linux as well. In other words, pay once, get the game for all OS', updating automatically, and all connected to the same account so you can chat to windows and mac players through the steam client

There are actually some pretty decent alternatives on Linux, most obviously distro package management, some of which is now a platform for proprietary software too, but there are other competitors. Additionally, Steam works great with WINE and most Linux gamers use it without issue -- the main benefit from a native version would be inclusion in package managers or first-class distribution as a pre-installed app in e.g. Ubuntu or "Ubuntu's Gamer's Edition" or something like that.

I see no reason to infer that Newell's comments are limited specifically to app platforms. I also wouldn't be surprised if there's more to this than just a Steam-for-Linux download; they could be working on something like the old Phantom project to really bridge the gap between console and PC, and take advantage of Windows 8's almost inevitable initial poor reception to gain marketshare.

Wait, what? There is already http://www.desura.com/ for example.

Steam got much of it's traction due to the great Valve games. The audience there just grew faster.

I would be more afraid of Xbox Live than the app store.

Buying is just a one time deal. Achievements and other social features of Xbox Live are constant and, if shared with the large Xbox network, will be very desirable for consumers.

They are not afraid of losing the competition, they are afraid of not being allowed to compete.

Steam cant be on Metro, and the x86/classic-desktop will likely end up, only in the high end of the market.

Just like Apple, the common win8 consumer device will be in the 200-600 dollar range .. running on ARM, and completely block any competition from selling content. The privileges of backwards compatibility and "side-loading" will be available only on 800+ dollar devices.

So, Steam on windows has no future.

Games for Windows Live was not warmly received. It’s unlikely that this will be a killer feature.

Microsoft does not allow competition on their OS this time around. So, Steam is no longer allowed to compete.

If there are no alternative, people may still hate it, but it will still be the killer feature.

Steam supports achievements and some social features, although those aren't 1:1 with Live's social features.

Unless the video game developer is creating a game only for metro then the Windows Store will not cause any harm to Valve. Although it is possible to list a non metro application in the store (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore/archive/2012/06/08/list...) users will not be able to purchase or directly download those applications from the store and MS does not take a cut of non metro apps.

You bring up a good point about the WinRT ARM devices. These devises are very closed off similar to the IPad, the only option for WinRT tablet users will be to go to the Windows Store but I don't think Valve even cares about this market too much ( I don't think you can download games directly to your iPhone from the steam app, can you?). Steam in my opinion is geared towards the PC desktop gamer not the (ARM) tablet* user, so Valve has nothing to worry about.

*x86 tablets will most likely be able to download steam.

> Steam in my opinion is geared towards the PC desktop gamer not the (ARM) tablet* user, so Valve has nothing to worry about.

The problem is that the PC desktop-gamer market is shrinking, and may shrink further if a large population adopts WinRT tablets. I'm sure there are many edge-case customers out there that would rather pay <$500 for a PC in exchange for not having access to the few indie games they or their children purchased on Steam.

While most avid PC gamers will keep with the desktop model, this sort of fork in the road for PC buyers is in essence also a narrowing of accessibility for future generations of would-be PC gamers.

I'm pretty sure Microsoft will end up doing to Steam what Apple tried to do with Amazon, and not allow them to sell games anywhere but in their store in the future.

And I'm pretty sure the EU will come back again and say: "You remember the antitrust case with IE? You're doing it again."

"Microsoft is charging between 20 to 30%" - I think that's too much, it must be much less than that, but I don't know for sure.

To lure in would-be developers, Microsoft is establishing an attractive revenue-split model that trumps what Apple delivers to its App Store and Mac App Store software partners. The Microsoft split starts at 70-30, between developers and Microsoft, respectively. This is the same ratio Apple offers, but once an app has proven its success by garnering $25,000 in sales, the split shifts further in the developer’s favor to 80-20.


Also I am 90% sure that this only applies to metro apps, non metro apps will be featured in the store but users will be directed to a website (chosen by the application developer) to purchase/download the product from.

the windows appstore is metro only

Sorry. You guys are right. I was thinking of Xbox/360, not PC.

Reference: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore/archive/2012/07/20/maki...

Store fees are calculated on a per-transaction basis as well. These fees are based at 30% of the app price, until your app reaches $25,000 or equivalent of lifetime sales (aggregated across app sales and in-app purchases) when they change to 20% of the app price.

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