Gabe Newell on Next Gen Consoles: Microsoft and Sony Need to Embrace Change

Valve’s Gabe Newell has grown quite frustrated with the closed console structure of the PlayStation and Xbox platforms, and has often spoken out about the problems of closed systems. As we approach the next generation, Newell has pointed out the importance for both Sony and Microsoft to embrace change, and the ramifications of failing to do so.

Speaking in a recent interview with Penny Arcade, Newell went so far as to say that if both Sony and Microsoft continue to remain close-minded about the future, they risk their relevancy in the industry.

I think that you either embrace the new approaches or you go away.

It’s not the games that are out there today, it’s the games that we […] haven’t even thought of yet that are gonna end up being important.

I would push them very hard to stop thinking of themselves as being a platform for everything that already exists and start betting on the inventiveness and the benefits that you would get by embracing a more open approach to the internet and game delivery and game business models and things like that.

He also pointed out the progressive nature of the PC sector of gaming and how it gives us a glimpse into the future of where home consoles are headed.

I think the same thing happened in the past with a lot of hardware innovations. Nvidia and AMD existed in the PC space and that’s why they end up, you know, rather than internally developed proprietary graphics solutions on the consoles, they’re all gone. Everything in the console space is coming from the PC now.

I think that we really need to see the same thing in terms of just general attitudes about platforms and that whichever console vendor sort of embraces that, I think they’ll see huge benefits.

In the past, Sony’s PlayStation Network service has been much more open to change than Microsoft’s regulation-heavy Xbox Live, but still more closed than Steam or iOS and Android marketplaces. If Sony can continue to think outside of the box and do more things with Valve like what we saw with Steam integration via Portal 2, then Sony could be headed in the right direction.