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Gabe Newell: “PC gaming is where innovation is occurring”

“PC gaming is where innovation is occurring, and you’ll see that in lots of ways,” Valve’s head honcho Gabe Newell said earlier today at LinuxCon. “It’s not on the consoles, it’s not on any of the closed systems where any of the innovation is happening; it’s happening to the extent to which openness is embraced by the underlying platform.”

Newell explained that it’s this innovation that drives huge growth for Valve and the PC gaming industry despite a massive slump in sales of new computers.

“So digital distribution came out, like Steam,” Newell continued. “Social gaming occurred on the PC, Free-to-Play, MMOs, trading, workshops... all of the most interesting topics in the games industry really are coming out of the open environment of the PC.

“So in spite of seeing year over year unit declines in PC sales, on the gaming side we’re seeing huge increases. So the data I’m most familiar with is ours, but... we’re going up 76% year over year, at the same time PC sales are getting double digit declines, and I think that’s true for all of our partners in the PC space to a varying degree; that the innovation and openness of the PC as a gaming platform have enabled us to be somewhat immunised against some of the broader structural decline of the PC.”

Valve have been investing heavily in ways to transfer the open PC platform to spaces beyond a desktop computer. Their Big Picture mode is just one example, as is their new Steam Box. When Newell backs it up with numbers like 76% yearly growth you can see why Valve are so confident in the PC as a platform. Consoles simply don’t compete with that scale of growth without healthy hardware sales, too.

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