Gabe Newell speaks about his interest Linux and how the future of technology will be.
Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve and online distribution platform Steam, spoke about the future of games and technology yesterday during Casual Connect, an annual video game conference in Seattle.
Newell shared his opinion on the increasing approach to closed-platform systems, saying that the company’s sudden interest in supporting Linux was stemmed out of worries over Windows 8, which he believes will be a “catastrophe” that will “destroy” margins for many companies.
“‘We’ve been a free rider, and we’ve been able to benefit from everything that went into PCs and the Internet, and we have to continue to figure out how there will be open platforms,” he said.
“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. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality,” he added.
Of course, the most popular alternative – and an open-sourced alternative – is Linux, but the shift to it won’t be as simple as putting resources into it.
“The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don’t realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior,” said Newell, ““We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well.”
It would interesting to note here on how Newell was similarly critical of the PlayStation 3 during the console’s initial years. He called the system “a total disaster”, and even suggested Sony to re-do the console because it was “so horrible”. That later changed, as evident, with Valve ultimately supporting and favoring the PS3, and even incorporating Steamworks into their games for the platform.
Newell also opinionated on the future of technology, strongly believing that touch-based interfaces and hardware will phase out to give way to motion controls, or as he likes to call it, “post-touch”.
“We think touch is short-term. The mouse and keyboard were stable for 25 years, but I think touch will be stable for 10 years. Post-touch will be stable for a really long time, longer than 25 years.”
The two problem, he says, are input and output. Some of the other non-touch concepts he mentioned was “tongue input” and eye-tracking, both he says, will either be annoying or troublesome.
“I don’t think tongue input will happen, but I do think we will have bands on our wrists, and you’ll be doing something with your hands, which are really expressive.”