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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 we’re 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, I’m not sure I’m answering your question directly. It’s sort of like this kind of messy issue, and it doesn’t 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 you’re not doing that it doesn’t really matter what you think about various supreme court decisions or EU decisions. If you’re not making your customers happy you’re 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 2.
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88. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 21, 2012, 09:10 Dev
 
avianflu wrote on Feb 21, 2012, 07:40:
And believe me, the suits sitting around the table at Steam are already thinking about the above.
Have you ever read anything anywhere about valve? Practically every interview they do they talk about how they have a flat no management structure. The interview linked in this very story talks about it. It also talks about how gabe basically goes around and fills in for things that need doing.

There are NO suits at valve lol.
 
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87. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 21, 2012, 08:55 Verno
 
avianflu wrote on Feb 21, 2012, 07:40:
Whenever Steam is sold off for $$ (and it will) there's all kinds of unpleasant possibilities. A $20 a year maintenance charge to access your games. $20 per install of network client on different computers. $20 to create a Steam account for the first time. etc. And believe me, the suits sitting around the table at Steam are already thinking about the above.

This is silly paranoia with no basis in reality. There has been nothing to establish any foundation for that argument.

Look what netflix tried to do when it split the service, reduced the services, and raised the prices (though happily it failed at all of that). ** We already know this is what digital business can do legally to bring in more revenue on existing user accounts.** Steam is no different. There's nothing legal to stop Steam from changing the rules of access tomorrow morning and then again 6 months from now. Geez look how often phone billing rules change and nothing ever happens to them via any legal entity!

Netflix raising their prices was because content companies raised the price of their licensing from 100 million dollars to over a billion in a two year period. It has nothing to do with Steam either.
 
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86. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 21, 2012, 08:45 Domgrief
 
Dev wrote on Feb 21, 2012, 00:15:
I've even heard of some employment contracts that say stuff you do on your own time belongs to your employer.

I've signed a similar contract before (thankfully not my current one). Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that many employment contracts are like EULAs: not so much binding agreements as threats, based on faulty assumptions about what's actually allowed by the law.

If I did happen to be moonlighting, though, I'd be wanting to make very sure that I wasn't using any company resources - that sort of situation would give them a legitimate claim on my work.
 
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85. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 21, 2012, 08:21 Beamer
 
avianflu wrote on Feb 21, 2012, 07:40:
Whenever Steam is sold off for $$ (and it will) there's all kinds of unpleasant possibilities. A $20 a year maintenance charge to access your games. $20 per install of network client on different computers. $20 to create a Steam account for the first time. etc. And believe me, the suits sitting around the table at Steam are already thinking about the above.

Look what netflix tried to do when it split the service, reduced the services, and raised the prices (though happily it failed at all of that). ** We already know this is what digital business can do legally to bring in more revenue on existing user accounts.** Steam is no different. There's nothing legal to stop Steam from changing the rules of access tomorrow morning and then again 6 months from now. Geez look how often phone billing rules change and nothing ever happens to them via any legal entity!

So yea, a "game on an install disk" seems extra extra quaint in the digital age but the bottomline is that owning a game disk was far better for the consumer versus the unknown of buying games off of a network client.


This is so miserably informed that I can't believe you're a regular here.
Your simple analysis of Netflix alone is fairly dumb and so insanely inaccurate I plead with you to Google why Netflix raised prices. Hint: it wasn't their choice.
 
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84. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 21, 2012, 08:12 reisub
 
avianflu wrote on Feb 21, 2012, 07:40:
And believe me, the suits sitting around the table at Steam are already thinking about the above.
Suits? At Valve? When did this happen?!
 
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83. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 21, 2012, 07:40 avianflu
 

Whenever Steam is sold off for $$ (and it will) there's all kinds of unpleasant possibilities. A $20 a year maintenance charge to access your games. $20 per install of network client on different computers. $20 to create a Steam account for the first time. etc. And believe me, the suits sitting around the table at Steam are already thinking about the above.

Look what netflix tried to do when it split the service, reduced the services, and raised the prices (though happily it failed at all of that). ** We already know this is what digital business can do legally to bring in more revenue on existing user accounts.** Steam is no different. There's nothing legal to stop Steam from changing the rules of access tomorrow morning and then again 6 months from now. Geez look how often phone billing rules change and nothing ever happens to them via any legal entity!

So yea, a "game on an install disk" seems extra extra quaint in the digital age but the bottomline is that owning a game disk was far better for the consumer versus the unknown of buying games off of a network client.

 
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82. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 21, 2012, 04:23 Hoop
 
Jesus Gabe, the beard.
http://goo.gl/Q8Upq
 
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Um .. Behind you...
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81. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 21, 2012, 00:29 Sepharo
 
Dev wrote on Feb 21, 2012, 00:15:
Sepharo wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 23:39:
You don't own any software unless you wrote it yourself and even then your employer or university might want a piece.
I've ever heard of some employment contracts that even say stuff you do on your own time belongs to your employer.

Is that supposed to be a "never" or an "even"?

It depends on what sort of software your making. For example, if you make highly specialized software that controls lasers you can't easily go home and make your own with the knowledge you undoubtedly learned at your job. I'm not saying it's common, but there have been cases where former/current employers and universities have claimed to own code written by employees/students right?
 
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80. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 21, 2012, 00:15 Dev
 
Sepharo wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 23:39:
You don't own any software unless you wrote it yourself and even then your employer or university might want a piece.
I've even heard of some employment contracts that say stuff you do on your own time belongs to your employer.

This comment was edited on Feb 21, 2012, 00:31.
 
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79. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 21, 2012, 00:04 Prez
 
Haha, I saw what you did there Sepharo you cheeky bastard you.

Still, I have to say, Gabe really sounds like he's deliberately avoiding addressing the issue. If it's due to ignorance, I don't know that I'm okay with that, however complex the law may be. This should have been the first thing Valve considered long and hard (Huh huh huh!) before ever starting the Steam venture.

I think it more likely Gabe is tiptoeing around the answer because it's not one most people are going to like.

And besides we all know the real answer is that you don't own the games. That's always been the case.

Exactly. Steam is nothing new when it comes to the concept of not owning your games. The difference only comes in to play when one compares the difference of the medium by which the game is delivered. The disc will work indefinitely while the revocation of the same license (for whatever reason) that the disc provides can actually be enforced effectively on a service like Steam. But the concept remains the same.

This comment was edited on Feb 21, 2012, 00:19.
 
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78. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 21, 2012, 00:01 Razumen
 
Sepharo wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 23:57:
I thought you repeated yourself as well.

Oh well, my apologies.
 
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77. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 20, 2012, 23:57 Sepharo
 
I thought you repeated yourself as well.  
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76. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 20, 2012, 23:55 Razumen
 
Sepharo wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 23:39:
We live in a society where even lawyers have to specialize in a narrow branch of the law to gain an even basic understanding of it. There is absolutely no reason to expect a 'managing director' to understand the thousands of subtle legal quirks related to a company. That's why corporations have packs of expensive attorneys - to tell the directors how things work when they have need of a specific piece of information.

Wow, if only I knew sooner that all I needed to do in a discussion is to repeatedly state the same apologetic nonsense over and over, life would have been so much easier. Thank you for your insightful "comment". Truly, your hardly thought out contribution has really proved to be an inconsequential point in this discussion and it really goes to show your own true character. Bravo sir!
 
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75. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 20, 2012, 23:39 Sepharo
 
Razumen wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 23:27:
Blackhawk wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 21:47:
Razumen wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 19:59:

Yeah, far be it from us to expect the co-founder and managing director of Valve to know the details of his own business.

We live in a society where even lawyers have to specialize in a narrow branch of the law to gain an even basic understanding of it. There is absolutely no reason to expect a 'managing director' to understand the thousands of subtle legal quirks related to a company. That's why corporations have packs of expensive attorneys - to tell the directors how things work when they have need of a specific piece of information.

This isn't some small trivial piece of information we're talking about here, this is a basic question of what rights the customer has to the content they're purchased on Steam. Considering that Gabe is basically the 'talking head' of Valve and the 'managing director (Yes, the "Managing Director" or in other words, the CEO - you know, the Head honcho, the big guy, the boss.) I think it is not unreasonable that the head of the company should have informed answers to these kind of expected questions beforehand.

We live in a society where even lawyers have to specialize in a narrow branch of the law to gain an even basic understanding of it. There is absolutely no reason to expect a 'managing director' to understand the thousands of subtle legal quirks related to a company. That's why corporations have packs of expensive attorneys - to tell the directors how things work when they have need of a specific piece of information.

And besides we all know the real answer is that you don't own the games. That's always been the case. You don't own any software unless you wrote it yourself and even then your employer or university might want a piece. Valve owes you their best effort, and you if you don't think you received it, you sue. But the question was also about Valve's place between licensor and licensee. Basically Gabe said he has lawyers to worry about international legal issues and his job is to make customers happy. Hardly a dodge.

This comment was edited on Feb 20, 2012, 23:46.
 
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74. Re: jtw321@gmail.com Feb 20, 2012, 23:27 Razumen
 
Blackhawk wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 21:47:
Razumen wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 19:59:

Yeah, far be it from us to expect the co-founder and managing director of Valve to know the details of his own business.

We live in a society where even lawyers have to specialize in a narrow branch of the law to gain an even basic understanding of it. There is absolutely no reason to expect a 'managing director' to understand the thousands of subtle legal quirks related to a company. That's why corporations have packs of expensive attorneys - to tell the directors how things work when they have need of a specific piece of information.

This isn't some small trivial piece of information we're talking about here, this is a basic question of what rights the customer has to the content they're purchased on Steam. Considering that Gabe is basically the 'talking head' of Valve and the 'managing director (Yes, the "Managing Director" or in other words, the CEO - you know, the Head honcho, the big guy, the boss.) I think it is not unreasonable that the head of the company should have informed answers to these kind of expected questions beforehand.
 
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73. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 22:11 Cutter
 
Mashiki Amiketo wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 20:39:
Cutter wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 20:34:
Except this...69 dude!
Shoulda used this...

They should have made another dozen Bill 'n Ted flicks! My favourite scene is still them reciting the lyrics to Every Rose has its Thorn as the meaning of life.
 
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72. a Feb 20, 2012, 21:47 Blackhawk
 
Razumen wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 19:59:

Yeah, far be it from us to expect the co-founder and managing director of Valve to know the details of his own business.

We live in a society where even lawyers have to specialize in a narrow branch of the law to gain an even basic understanding of it. There is absolutely no reason to expect a 'managing director' to understand the thousands of subtle legal quirks related to a company. That's why corporations have packs of expensive attorneys - to tell the directors how things work when they have need of a specific piece of information.

This comment was edited on Feb 24, 2012, 09:04.
 
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71. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 21:41 Prez
 
Valve has a done a whole lot right with Steam, but Steam support has got to get better. I have had to wait 3 days to have my account re-activated after it inexplicably got inactivated because their support is so godawful. My son got locked out of his when he couldn't reset his password after losing the email address he originally signed up on Steam with. That took 2 days to fix. Something that removes a customer's ability to access their entire library after putting their faith in your service should be addressed within a matter of hours, not days. It's the core of your goddamned business Gabe! It's inexcusable that Steam support has been so consistently terrible since the beginning. Nothing reminds you more starkly that you actually DON'T own your games like you used to when you are prohibited from playing your games because of problems on the service provider's end.

And if your goal is indeed to keep the customer happy, consider that a fail for all Half-life fans.

This comment was edited on Feb 21, 2012, 00:01.
 
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70. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 20:39 Mashiki Amiketo
 
Cutter wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 20:34:
Except this...69 dude!
Shoulda used this...
 
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69. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 20:34 Cutter
 
Except this...69 dude!
 
Avatar 25394
 

"Nobody wants to be nobody in America. Ed is the apotheosis of a prevailing American syndrome. It used to be that someone became famous because they were special. Now people are considered special just for being famous. Fame, itself, is its own virtue.
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108 Replies. 6 pages. Viewing page 2.
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