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Newell on the future of Steam as a user-generated paradise


Valve's top bossman Gabe Newell hasn't forgotten about the software side of his empire, even though he just dropped confirmation of a living room, Linux-powered Steam Box. Steam will continue to evolve, he tells The Verge at CES, and in the future it may resemble a user-generated profile hub, where users can create their own stores and aggregate games within those markets.

"Our view has always been that we should build tools for customers and tools for partners," Newell says. "An editorial filter is fine, but there should be a bunch of editorial filters. The backend services should be network APIs that anybody can use. On the consumer side, anybody should be able to put up a store that hooks into those services.

"Some people will create team stores, some people will create Sony stores, some people will create stores with only games that they think meet their quality bar. Somebody is going to create a store that says 'these are the worst games on Steam.' So that's an example of where our thinking is leading us right now."

Newell's love affair with user generated content can be seen in its infancy with Greenlight, which allows users to choose the games that make it to Steam. The idea, however, stems from a more established aspect of Steam – the Workshop.

"So now we're in this strange world where we have people who are using the Steam Workshop who are making $500,000 per year building items for other customers," Newell says. "In other words, there's this notion that user-generated content has to be an important part of our thinking. We know of other game developers making more money building content for the workshop than what they get in their day job.

"One of the things we found is that this notion of a workshop needs to span multiple games. If we're connecting Skyrim and other games... it's like this notion that there's just a game seems to be going away; games are starting to look like an instance of some larger experience."

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