Gabe Newell says his company’s decision to enter the living room is anything but leaping a chasm.
In an interview with The Nerdist Podcast as transcribed by Games Industry International, the Valve founder spoke of the reasons his company – long tethered to the traditional Windows PC – has begun manufacturing Linux based PCs built for use in the living room.
"We thought the distinction between living rooms and PCs was artificial," said Newell.
"That’s why we did 10-foot [Big Picture Mode], and why we’re putting 10-foot into our games onto Linux. We don’t think there’s any reasons why these are islands. We don’t think you have a different set of friends when you go into your living room… We think you can extend the PC totally to be in the living room."
Between its digital distribution service Steam and some of the most memorable titles in PC gaming Valve already has a reputation for innovation, but the company thinks it can do more.
This means taking on some established preconceptions.
"Why doesn’t my game experience continue whether I’m on mobile, in the living room, at work or on an airplane?" asked Newell.
"It’s not because it isn’t technically feasible, and it’s not because it isn’t the right thing to do. It’s because the people who control mobile right now, Apple, have zero interest in interoperating well with the people who currently are controlling the living room, and they’re completely interested in creating this silo separate from what you’re doing on your laptop or your desktop."
Newell wasn’t entire negative towards Apple, and admitted that products like the iPad came from an excellent understanding of the user experience.
With this in mind, Valve’s hardware plans call for input devices that offer, "the control and preciseness that you’re used to with a mouse and a keyboard, except in a mobile-friendly, living room friendly way."
Valve’s success means it can now focus on "trying to be interestingly innovative," said Newell
The safety blanket afforded by huge cash reserves means the company can afford to take risks on hardware, which has become notoriously unprofitable.
"At this point, we think that all of the margin, all of the profitability has been stolen out of [hardware]," said Newell.
"Dell has terrible margins, Razer has terrible margins, and we’re super profitable, so we need to start taking some of that and feeding it back into more speculative investments, like [the wearable computing] project or the controllers. So that’s the big picture version of it."