The co-founder and managing director of Valve, Gabe Newell, said today that Linux is the future of gaming despite its current one per cent share of the market.
This seems hard to believe, especially since Newell acknowledged Linux gaming is insignificant by any measure including players, player minutes, and revenue. However, Valve is going to do its best to make sure Linux becomes the future of gaming by extending its Steam distribution platform to hardware designed for living rooms coupled with their software, Steam Big Picture.
Newell made his comments while delivering a keynote at LinuxCon in New Orleans. “It feels a little bit funny coming here and telling you guys that Linux and open source are the future of gaming,” Newell said. “It’s sort of like going to Rome and teaching Catholicism to the pope.”
Valve brought Steam to Linux in February which now has 198 games. Newell has previously promised to unveil a Linux-based ‘Steam box’ to compete against living room gaming consoles such as the Xbox One and PS4, sometime this year. Valve has updated the Steam software to work better on TVs with Big Picture. While he didn’t specifically mention the Steam box, Newell hinted at an announcement next week.
“Next week we’re going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities we see for bringing Linux into the living room,” Newell said.
Getting games to work on Linux has its challenges. If not implemented right, “Just compile it yourself” could be the inconvenient solution to the problem of installing games and applying updates, he said. However, Valve worked through these problems in bringing Left 4 Dead 2 to Linux, hopefully showing the way to other developers, he said.
Gabe said bringing Steam to Linux “was a signal for our development partners that we really were serious about this Linux thing we were talking about.”
Besides just releasing Steam on Linux-based operating systems, Valve is contributing to the LLDB debugger project and is co-developing an additional debugger for Linux, Newell said.
“When we talk to developers and say, ‘if you can pick one thing for Valve to work on the tools side to make Linux a better development target,’ they always say we should build a debugger,” he said.
Newell has previously complained about Windows 8 being a “catastrophe for everyone in the PC space,” which he reiterated at the keynote. Closed platforms are going to lose to open ones that allow innovation, he said. But that won’t stop Steam’s rise: Despite year-on-year declines in the PC market, Steam has seen a 76 percent increase in its own sales according to Newell.
“I think we’ll see either significant restructuring or market exits by top five PC players. It’s looking pretty grim,” he said. “Systems which are innovation-friendly and embrace openness are going to have a greater competitive advantage to closed or tightly regulated systems.”
A video of Newell’s talk is available to see below: