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Gabe Newell on the future of content

I mentioned Gabe Newell’s keynote in an earlier post today but now think it deserves a full post of its own. If you have any interest in the future trajectory of digital media in general, and gaming in particular, this keynote is simply required viewing. It’s full of fascinating off-the-cuff insights about where content platforms are heading that you should just watch it in its entirety. Here’s a few paraphrased choice bits:

The PC ecosystem is expanding and will continue to do so – because it’s open. Open hardware + open software development beats everything else, and particularly the console model.

Linux is a get out of jail free card for the industry [he talks about the gaming industry but I think it equally applies to everyone with a finger in digital media content distribution]. Why? Because it ensures content platform independence.

With virtual goods you have to think what scarcity actually means, and in the process re-imagine what is a game, and what is digital service.

Free to play should be, and will be, the standard for digital content [at least it seams Valve is betting on that big time]. The idea is that users enter the world on their own terms and the developer leverages in-world interactions.

Cloud games are a losing proposition because functionality is centered rather than distributed. How do you distribute functionality around a network? You want to push intelligence towards the ends of the network, not in the middle. Putting functionality in the center of the network is latency inefficient. [This is fascinating and seems to go directly against the trajectory of app stores and the like]

The big value is in open auction houses, free to play worlds, and user generated content.  Why? Because ‘customers will always defeat us at generating cool content’.

The future Valve is betting on is one where user generated content means customer-made and operated stores, auction houses, mods, games, quests.  [In Valve’s future you should be able to generate your own unique quests and sell them to other players, create your own currency, manage your own auction houses and run your own stores – all in the world]

The goal is to avoid curation and focus instead on aggregation. ‘Curation is pre-internet’.

Finally, Valve is working on prediction markets – they call them information discovery mechanisms, and apparently this is where Gabe Newell is personally involved. [This is such a cool implementation of the price discovery concept from Austrian economics].