Linux still might not have a huge share of the market, but Valve’s Gabe Newell is still insistent that it represents the best future for PC gaming.
Steam for Linux launched in February but while the operating system has overtaken Mac on Steam’s hardware profiles, Newell has acknowledged that it accounts for less than one percent of the market by any measure.
Even so, the Valve founder took to the stage at LinuxCon in New Orleans to speak on the importance of the open source environment to PC gaming.
According to Ars Technica, Newell promised the crowd that his company would reveal more details of its promised Linux-based hardware sometime next week.
"Next week we’re going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities we see for bringing Linux into the living room," Newell said.
Linux definitely has advantages for developers, offering a variety of options and some powerful tools that aren’t available on other platforms.
It also has some major issues: at the moment there isn’t a professional quaility graphical debugger that works well with graphically intensive applications, getting symbols for non-graphical debuggers like GDB can be a pain, and even on a modern distribution like Ubuntu audio remains a major problem for some users.
Much of Valve’s work over the past year has apparently been in bridging these gaps, and the company has not only ported many of its classic titles – like Left 4 Dead 2 – to Linux, it has found that the process can in some cases improve game code across all platforms.
Newell says his Linux team is working with the LLDB debugger project that promises to solve many of these issues, and is co-developing another debugger.
“When we talk to developers and say, ‘if you can pick one thing for Valve to work on the tools side to make Linux a better development target,’ they always say we should build a debugger," he said.
While this is certainly a lot of work, Newell thinks its worth it in order to escape the dependence on Windows, which he has said – and continues to say – is an increasingly closed platform.
The PC space has been shrinking as a whole, but Steam continues to grow. Newell suggested that this is because the market is becoming less open, and said he expects to see some companies exit or restructure.
“I think we’ll see either significant restructuring or market exits by top five PC players. It’s looking pretty grim," he said.
“Systems which are innovation-friendly and embrace openness are going to have a greater competitive advantage to closed or tightly regulated systems."