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Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games

An interview on The PA Report talks with Valve's Gabe Newell, discussing some general topics with Valve's Managing Director, whose beard is growing in nicely (though not to the magnificent degree mine has at this point). The discussion covers things like his work schedule, his fascination with wearable computers, the possibility Valve might someday sell hardware, pricing games on Steamand more (thanks nin). He also offers responses to questions about to what degree customers won games purchased on Steam:

But even from kind of a more general point of view, you have services like Steam or Origin where these many purchases and micro-transactions and all these transactions weíre making through multiple companies are kind of tied to this overreaching account. Do you have lawyers who kind of look at the legal implication of where exactly you fit into that relationship?

Yeah, we have lawyers who look at stuff all the time, Iím not sure Iím answering your question directly. Itís sort of like this kind of messy issue, and it doesnít really matter a whole lot what the legal issues are, the real thing is that you have to make your customers happy at the end of the day and if youíre not doing that it doesnít really matter what you think about various supreme court decisions or EU decisions. If youíre not making your customers happy youíre doing something stupid and we certainly always want to make our customers happy. And I think we have a track record of having done that.

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108 Replies. 6 pages. Viewing page 5.
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28. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 13:20 Beamer
 
CJ_Parker wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 13:06:
Creston wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 13:02:
Obviously you don't own your games on Steam, but if you can't tell the difference in attitude between how Steam views its customers, and how EA/Origin views it, then I don't really know what to tell you.

Yeah. Awesome. So Valve regards us as top class hookers while for EA we're street slut hookers. Does it really make a difference? At the end of the day we're still getting fucked .


I don't use Origin and see no need to, though I support there being alternatives and competition. Right now it may be ahead of where Steam was at this point of its lifespan, but from a consumer standpoint there's no reason to compare things at two states other than the present.

But Gabe danced around ownership. He gave a stock answer about doing what's best for the consumer. Yeah, ok, every successful company does this, and every company ends up less successful a while after they stop.
He avoids, though, that their customers aren't just end consumers. And that sometimes doing something that, on its face, seems worse for end consumers is better for them (e.g., taking away some of their rights in exchange for a vastly expanded product assortment.) And I'd wager Gabe is quite fine with the ownership model as it stands.
 
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http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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27. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 13:19 Cutter
 
Mashiki Amiketo wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 10:48:
Cutter wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 10:45:
Not having new HL in so long is not making me happy, Gabe. Not by a long shot!
Yeah. Why do I get a feeling they're waiting for "next gen" consoles.

Oh gods! Thanks a lot Mash, now I'm really depressed.
 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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26. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 13:17 theyarecomingforyou
 
Valve offers a better service than EA. Better value, better selection, better functionality, better experience, better community engagement, etc. But I'd like to see Valve improve their service - remove the online check before launching every game; remove the threat of a permanent VAC ban, which disadvantages those that keep all their games on a single account (dedicated cheaters will use disposable accounts); give users the option to revert to a previous version, as patches can break mods and system compatibility.

As for the interview, it was a pretty difficult read. No offence to Gabe but many of the responses were verging on gibberish, with constant tangential detours and hard to follow sentences. Still, it reinforces what I already knew about Valve. The response to the Russian question was particularly interesting, as he stated that if true that Valve probably messed up. You wouldn't here that from EA - they'd be more likely to send the secret police round to your house to assassinate your dog.
 
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25. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 13:06 CJ_Parker
 
Creston wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 13:02:
Obviously you don't own your games on Steam, but if you can't tell the difference in attitude between how Steam views its customers, and how EA/Origin views it, then I don't really know what to tell you.

Yeah. Awesome. So Valve regards us as top class hookers while for EA we're street slut hookers. Does it really make a difference? At the end of the day we're still getting fucked .

 
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24. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 13:05 Dev
 
Also worth a look is the tour through the offices complete with a lot of neat pictures and descriptions:
penny arcade tour

One caption in particular caught my eye:
A glance into one of the many Cabals that spring up. Any time a group of two or more people has an idea, they can move their desks to start their own Cabal in an empty room. As the project comes together, employees can join in and move their desks to that Cabal if they feel they can help out
Great for employees. Not as great for getting projects pushed out.
 
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23. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 13:02 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:14:
Creston wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:11:
I like this answer about the legality of people not-owning games.

Itís sort of like this kind of messy issue, and it doesnít really matter a whole lot what the legal issues are, the real thing is that you have to make your customers happy at the end of the day and if youíre not doing that it doesnít really matter what you think about various supreme court decisions or EU decisions. If youíre not making your customers happy youíre doing something stupid and we certainly always want to make our customers happy.

Now imagine if an EA peon had answered the same question: "Our EULA says we own your stuff, not you. So go fuck yourself."

Creston

Doesn't Valve essentially do the same thing, though? We've had people here lose their entire library.

So Valve says they don't care about court decisions and want to make people happy, but when push has come to shove they've been pretty willing to shut down accounts, or to suspend accounts pending investigation.

Not sure what you see EA doing here that Valve isn't, other than giving non-answers. Origin, from what I gather, has plenty of other flaws compared to Steam (or anything), but this doesn't really seem like one.

It's the attitude behind it. I'm sure that, in the 30 million Steam users, there have been some that have had their account unfairly revoked (though I've yet to hear of one where it happened unfairly and they NEVER got their stuff back). There have also been people who got banned for doing things Steam absolutely forbids you to do, and eh.

Obviously you don't own your games on Steam, but if you can't tell the difference in attitude between how Steam views its customers, and how EA/Origin views it, then I don't really know what to tell you.

though I believe EA said that the forum ban game ban connection was a mistake

It's a mistake that STILL hasn't been rectified, and is continuously happening to new people. Not sure that that still classifies as a "mistake."

@Bhruic,

I wasn't really arguing the ownership part of it. Everyone knows you don't own your games on Steam, but the difference in attitude of Valve/Steam towards their customers vs the attitude of EA towards their customers is night and day.

Creston
 
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22. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 13:01 Omni
 
He is saying what people wanna hear and I dont buy it. Just another PR stunt to keep him on the good side of gamers.  
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21. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 13:00 Silicon Avatar
 
Gabe isn't a lawyer. He gave his non-lawyer answer of "I don't really know." I don't know what some of you were expecting him to say.
 
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20. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:57 Dev
 
Here's an interesting bit from the interview. Valve tells companies they might not want to layer DRM on top of steam, and that the DRM doesn't really change sales except to perhaps hurt it, but ultimately leaves it up to the company.

So all those companies that layer DRM on top of steam are doing it against valve's advice.

We tend to try to avoid being super dictatorial to either customers or partners. Recently I was in a meeting and thereís a company that had a third party DRM solution and we showed them look, this is what happens, at this point in your life cycle your DRM got hacked, right? Now letís look at the data, did your sales change at all? No, your sales didnít change one bit. Right? So hereís before and after, hereís where you have DRM that annoys your customers and causing huge numbers of support calls and in theory you would think that you would see a huge drop off in sales after that got hacked, and instead there was absolutely no difference in sales before or after. You know, and then we tell them you actually probably lost a whole bunch of sales as near as we can tell, hereís how much money you lost by bundling that with your product

And some more

I think that we have a lot more credibility now with developers on issues like this simply because thereís so much data that we can show them where we say look, weíve run all of these experiments, you know, this has been going on for many years now and we all can look at what the outcomes are and there really isnít Ė there are lots of compelling instances where making customers Ė you know, giving customers a great experience and thinking of ways to create value for them is way more important than making it incredibly hard for the customers to move their products from one machine to another.
 
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19. No subject Feb 20, 2012, 12:55 yonder
 
own*  
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18. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:50 Beamer
 
Dev wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:40:
Beamer wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:36:
I'm not saying this at all (though I believe EA said that the forum ban game ban connection was a mistake.) I'm saying Valve does essentially the same thing. Valve has removed user accounts. That takes away games people bought. That means people do not own the games they buy on Steam.

So Valve essentially does what EA does, only EA says they do it and Valve gives non-answers and avoids the question.
Yeah EA claimed that, and claimed they wouldn't do it again, then they went and did it again (and not just once). There's even been bluesnews stuff about it. Valve does NOT do the same thing, they don't ban you playing games for forum posts. They may remove access to your games, but its not because of posting on their forums. Also, EA does NOT say they remove games because of forum posts.

However, both EA and valve have in their EULA they may remove game access.

Who cares in this discussion?
Gabe gives an answer that makes Valve sound different. Valve is not different. Valve will happily remove your games. For a forum post? No. But they weren't asked about forum posts, they were asked about game ownership, and said they do what makes customers happy.

This isn't true. You pretty clearly do not own games purchased over Steam.
 
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http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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17. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:40 Dev
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:36:
I'm not saying this at all (though I believe EA said that the forum ban game ban connection was a mistake.) I'm saying Valve does essentially the same thing. Valve has removed user accounts. That takes away games people bought. That means people do not own the games they buy on Steam.

So Valve essentially does what EA does, only EA says they do it and Valve gives non-answers and avoids the question.
Yeah EA claimed that, and claimed they wouldn't do it again, then they went and did it again (and not just once). There's even been bluesnews stuff about it. Valve does NOT do the same thing, they don't ban you playing games for forum posts. They may remove access to your games, but its not because of posting on their forums. Also, EA does NOT say they remove games because of forum posts.

However, both EA and valve have in their EULA they may remove game access.
 
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16. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:39 CJ_Parker
 
If youíre not making your customers happy youíre doing something stupid and we certainly always want to make our customers happy. And I think we have a track record of having done that.

Gawd... could ya please remove your tongue from my ass, Gabe? OK. Thank you very much, Sir...

 
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15. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:36 Beamer
 
Dev wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:21:
Beamer wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:14:
Not sure what you see EA doing here that Valve isn't, other than giving non-answers. Origin, from what I gather, has plenty of other flaws compared to Steam (or anything), but this doesn't really seem like one.
I don't get what you are saying here. Are you saying EA/origin doesn't remove access to game libraries? Because we know that's not the case, EA bans you from games from posting on their FORUMS. We also know the origin EULA says if you don't play your games in a while they WILL (not may, its worded WILL) remove games from your library.

I'm not saying this at all (though I believe EA said that the forum ban game ban connection was a mistake.) I'm saying Valve does essentially the same thing. Valve has removed user accounts. That takes away games people bought. That means people do not own the games they buy on Steam.

So Valve essentially does what EA does, only EA says they do it and Valve gives non-answers and avoids the question.


I love Valve and I love Gabe, but that non-answer is pretty remarkable
 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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14. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:34 Dev
 
Well we now know gabe wants to get valve into a 4th market (he's mentioned mobile, social, and MMO markets before, and we've seen the first step towards getting steam into mobile markets). He also wants to get into selling hardware, specifically wearable computing hardware.

However from gabe's comments about letting stuff get more baked before they talk about it, there may yet be hope for ep3.
 
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13. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:24 Wowbagger_TIP
 
But even from kind of a more general point of view, you have services like Steam or Origin where these many purchases and micro-transactions and all these transactions weíre making through multiple companies are kind of tied to this overreaching account.
I wonder if that's the word he really intended there, or more of a Freudian slip.
 
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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell (I think...)
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12. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:21 Dev
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:14:
Not sure what you see EA doing here that Valve isn't, other than giving non-answers. Origin, from what I gather, has plenty of other flaws compared to Steam (or anything), but this doesn't really seem like one.
I don't get what you are saying here. Are you saying EA/origin doesn't remove access to game libraries? Because we know that's not the case, EA bans you from games from posting on their FORUMS. We also know the origin EULA says if you don't play your games in a while they WILL (not may, its worded WILL) remove games from your library.
 
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11. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:17 Bhruic
 

I like this answer about the legality of people not-owning games.

Now imagine if an EA peon had answered the same question: "Our EULA says we own your stuff, not you. So go fuck yourself."

So you'd rather have someone completely duck the question, rather than give you a straight-up, honest answer?
 
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10. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:14 Beamer
 
Creston wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 12:11:
I like this answer about the legality of people not-owning games.

Itís sort of like this kind of messy issue, and it doesnít really matter a whole lot what the legal issues are, the real thing is that you have to make your customers happy at the end of the day and if youíre not doing that it doesnít really matter what you think about various supreme court decisions or EU decisions. If youíre not making your customers happy youíre doing something stupid and we certainly always want to make our customers happy.

Now imagine if an EA peon had answered the same question: "Our EULA says we own your stuff, not you. So go fuck yourself."

Creston

Doesn't Valve essentially do the same thing, though? We've had people here lose their entire library.

So Valve says they don't care about court decisions and want to make people happy, but when push has come to shove they've been pretty willing to shut down accounts, or to suspend accounts pending investigation.

Not sure what you see EA doing here that Valve isn't, other than giving non-answers. Origin, from what I gather, has plenty of other flaws compared to Steam (or anything), but this doesn't really seem like one.
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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9. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 12:11 Creston
 
I like this answer about the legality of people not-owning games.

Itís sort of like this kind of messy issue, and it doesnít really matter a whole lot what the legal issues are, the real thing is that you have to make your customers happy at the end of the day and if youíre not doing that it doesnít really matter what you think about various supreme court decisions or EU decisions. If youíre not making your customers happy youíre doing something stupid and we certainly always want to make our customers happy.

Now imagine if an EA peon had answered the same question: "Our EULA says we own your stuff, not you. So go fuck yourself."

Creston
 
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