Gabe Newell sits proudly inside Valve's Gamescom booth knowing his company's latest game, Dota 2, has a fantastic chance of being a huge hit. Outside, hundreds are watching it being played live in a tournament with a huge $1 million grand prize. Online, thousands are poring over every detail. Things are going well.
Valve's ability to produce multi-million selling, critically acclaimed games shows no sign of slowing down. This year saw the launch of Portal 2 and the transition to free-to-play of Team Fortress 2. Next year sees the launch of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. And then there's Steam, one of the most popular, if not the most popular, download platforms on the internet. Yes, things are going well.
Here, in an interview with Eurogamer, Newell goes in depth on all Valve's games, explains exactly what the company is about and where it's going, and reveals how he decided what games to make. Oh, and there's even some Half-Life talk. Well, what did you expect?
Eurogamer: You recently announced Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. What was the driving force behind this project?
Gabe Newell: We'd been doing updates to Counter-Strike: Source, but we needed a bigger investment to push that forward on the PC side. We also needed a way of giving it to console players, since the only console version is a 2003 Xbox game. It's not Counter-Strike 2. It's just keeping it refreshed and updating it for the players who've been playing it for so long, and giving the opportunity to a bunch of console players who don't have a good version to play on.
Eurogamer: Have you decided how to monetise that?
Gabe Newell: We're still trying to figure that out. The stage we're at with that is, we had a bunch of pro players come out, and right now we're going through all the feedback they gave us to make sure we're going to be a good platform for what they're doing, and to think through how to have both a good competitive platform and at the same time maintain a popular game as well.
Eurogamer: Is it your hope that the console versions will have Steamworks integration like Portal 2 on PS3 did?
Gabe Newell: We certainly can deliver a lot of value to customers to the degree to which we have those capabilities. With the PS3 obviously we made a lot more progress with that. The PS3 customers of Portal 2 are going to start to see the benefits of that with Portal 2 DLC coming out in September. So we'd really like to be able to do that for Xbox customers as well.
Eurogamer: What are the challenges around bringing Steamworks to Xbox?
Gabe Newell: The main thing is having Microsoft get comfortable with it and let us do it. Right now, there's a huge amount of updates and free content we've been able to deliver to people who have The Orange Box that we haven't been able to deliver to the Xbox because of the restrictions that have been placed on us on Xbox Live.
We'd love to see those relaxed. Other developers on the PS3 are starting to benefit from Sony's more open approach. Hopefully that will help Microsoft see that's a good strategy for making customers happy, that the barbarians won't tear down the walls of Xbox and turn it into some chaotic wasteland.
Eurogamer: Dust 514 from CCP looks like one of the early PS3 games that trail-blazes that concept.
Gabe Newell: Yeah. It's up to developers who are taking advantage of Sony's openness to prove that was a good choice by Sony. They said, OK, we're going to trust you guys and take this different approach. But now it's up to us and other developers to prove out that was a good decision, to show that, yeah, we can create a lot more value for gamers this way. I'm pretty confident that's going to happen.
Eurogamer: Is there a faction within Valve that's passionate about making a fully-fledged Counter-Strike sequel as opposed to CS: GO, which you've said isn't Counter-Strike 2?
Gabe Newell: Yeah. You have to understand though we have too many opportunities and not enough time in the day. There's even a group who want to do Ricochet 2. It's just a question of getting enough people all headed in the same direction.