Valve’s Newell shares his vision for Steam’s user-focused future

3 Posted by - January 14, 2013 - Crowdsourcing, News

With CES now wrapped up in Las Vegas, Valve’s “Steam Box” is on the lips of developers across the industry, but that’s not the only interesting project brewing at the Seattle-based Half-Life studio.

In a recent interview with the Verge, Valve head Gabe Newell noted that some major changes are coming to the Steam store, and these changes could have major implications for the service’s developers and community.

“We tend to think of Steam as tools for content developers and tools for producers,” Newell said. “We’re just always thinking: how do we want to make content developers’ lives better and users’ lives a lot better?”

Newell believes that Steam needs to give even more control to its users and developers. By doing so, the platform will become more customizable, allowing it to better serve the needs of the entire community.

“Right now there’s one Steam store. We think that the store should actually be more like user generated content,” he said. “So, anybody should be able to create a store, and it should be about extra entertainment value. Our view has always been that we should build tools for customers and tools for partners.”

Newell envisions a future where the users themselves help shape Steam via editorial filters, customizable storefronts, network APIs, and more. “Our view is that, in the same way users are critical in a multiplayer experience, like the fellow next to you is critical to your enjoyment, we should figure out how we can help users find people that are going to make their game experiences better,” he added.

“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.”

This type of user-focused thinking could fundamentally change the way users take advantage of the Steam platform, and if prior evidence is any indication, it could make Steam an even more desirable venue for PC players and developers.

As we’ve seen in Raptr’s own case studies, users tend to react positively when given the chance to customize their favorite games and services. Games like Portal 2 and ARMA II both saw major boosts in user activity thanks to user generated content and mods, and we expect Steam would better engage its users if they were given more control over their PC game experience.

Of course, Newell’s plans for Steam seem pretty far off at this point, so there’s no telling when we’ll see these customizable storefronts on the Steam homepage. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the platform, however, as Valve’s plans are a great example of developers leveraging Community as a Service.