Leading Video Game Developer Considers Windows 8 "A Catastrophe"

Gabe Newell Thinks Windows 8 Creates Closed Ecosystem for Microsoft, Points to Linux as New Opportunity

by Anton Shilov
07/26/2012 | 10:21 PM

The head of Valve Software, the game studio that developed titles like Counter Strike, Half-Life and Portal and operates Steam video game distribution system, believes that Windows 8 creates a closed ecosystem on the place of what has always been an open ecosystem, which is a catastrophe. Gabe Newell believes that many PC makers will be forced out of the market due to Windows 8. He now believes that Linux could now pose a real alternative to MS Windows and Apple Mac OS.


"We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It is a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we will 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 is true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality," said Gabe Newell dinner sponsored by Covert & Co., Google Ventures and Perkins Coie. 

Microsoft Windows 8 introduces the Windows Store, the store for applications similar to Apple's Mac App Store and iOS AppStore, which promises to significantly impact sales of software for Windows. Although it will still be possible for third-party services like Steam to operate in Windows 8 and end-users will be able to install applications from discs, it is clear that the vast majority of consumers will buy programs from the official Windows Store. As a result, games that people nowadays buy from Valve's Steam, the main source of revenue for the company, will tomorrow be acquired from the Windows Store that will be installed on all Windows 8 PCs by default.

From certain points of view, it may seem that Microsoft is moving Windows into direction of Apple Mac OS (which supports both Steam and allows users to install programs itself) or even Apple iOS (which does not support third-party stores and does not allow end-users to install their own apps). As a result, some consider that Microsoft is shrinking freedom of choice with the introduction of Windows Store, besides, thwarts (or reduces) abilities of PC makers to sell software with their PCs and differentiate.

Linux operating system naturally does not have an official app store, which ensures that Valve's Steam will actually be used. On the other hand, considering that designers of graphics processors do not put as much attention on Linux as they do on Windows, performance of Linux-based PCs in games will likely be lower than that of Windows 8-powered systems.

What is curious is whether Valve Software will actually manage to make Linux a proper gaming platform, something that the OS has never been. In case of Apple, availability of Steam video game distribution system software and optimized Source engine did not make Macs good for gamers or gaming, but only provided an addition revenue stream for Valve.