My Theory on Valve and the PS3

Posted by Xander128 (6 posts) -

So as we all know, Valve - and Gabe specifically - have not been showing the PS3 much love throughout it's life. This all changed at E3, with Gabe announcing - on the Sony Press Conference Stage no less - that Portal 2 was coming to PS3. So the big question: Why did they change their minds? 
 
When the Steam client for Mac OSX was released, Gabe said  "We would love to see the PS3 be more open like a Mac than more closed like a Gamecube. It makes it easier to justify those investments if that were the case." A comment I always considered strange, as Valve develop for the 360 - arguably one of the least open platforms of this generation, with Microsoft tightly controlling the hardware, software, network and everything in-between. So why now are they actively developing for a platform they don't see as a justifiable investment? The only Valve game on PS3 thus far was Team Fortress 2 running on a engine ported by an EA studio.
 
Well if we take it back a bit to pre-Left4Dead: Valve are a company born out of the PC's create and share environment - a philosophy that they have taken with them in every title they develop. They release SDK's, they answer emails about tech questions, and they are relativity open with their IP as part of a culture. For as long as people have been making PC games, people have been modifying and sharing them - and Valve are no different.
 
Roll it forward again, and Left4Dead has launched on PC and Xbox 360, and rumours of the first DLC pack are bouncing around. Now what the rumours could not agree on: was what it would cost on the Xbox. Eventually it came out for free, something the second DLC pack didn't manage. With Team Fortress 2, Valve had the whole development team continuing to push content and updates long after launch - the size of the team has scaled back a bit, but they still are pushing content nearly 3 years later . The cost of developing content and pushing it through Steam was simply part of their business costs - They did not charge people for access to it. An attitude Microsoft pretty much told them to leave at the door. With the launch of Left4Dead2 Valve started talking about trying to bring community maps to 360, and then promptly stopped again. The Left4Dead2 DLC that followed was a pay-for package, with Valve citing Microsoft as the reason. This was a shift for Valve.
 
So where does any of this come in? Well when Gabe announced Portal 2 for PS3, he said it would have SteamWorks support. SteamWorks is Valve's name for a framework of libraries that allow for quick integration with many of Steam's features such as: Achievements, Updates, and the Community/Friends stuff. He also announced Steam Cloud support, a system which will sync save games and settings to Steam servers. This is something Valve would not get away with on 360 - offering competing services to Microsoft's.
 
My theory is it's also something Sony where not too hot on letting them get away with either - hence Gabe's comments about wanting the PS3 to be open - but, for what ever reasons, backed off. I wouldn't say this is a step towards a big happy future where we all play together, but it would not surprise me that when L4D3 comes out - PS3 owners get a much better deal out of it than their 360 counter-parts. Call me crazy, but this was my theory - once I'd stopped going Valve fanboy over the Portal 2 trailer. Also, Kevin Butler - right up until he started talking about kings.  
 
Tell me what you think, am I crazy? 
Before you accuse me of being PS3 fanboy, I don't own either console - although am looking seriously at getting one or the other, was hoping E3 would make it easier to decide.

#1 Posted by Xander128 (6 posts) -

So as we all know, Valve - and Gabe specifically - have not been showing the PS3 much love throughout it's life. This all changed at E3, with Gabe announcing - on the Sony Press Conference Stage no less - that Portal 2 was coming to PS3. So the big question: Why did they change their minds? 
 
When the Steam client for Mac OSX was released, Gabe said  "We would love to see the PS3 be more open like a Mac than more closed like a Gamecube. It makes it easier to justify those investments if that were the case." A comment I always considered strange, as Valve develop for the 360 - arguably one of the least open platforms of this generation, with Microsoft tightly controlling the hardware, software, network and everything in-between. So why now are they actively developing for a platform they don't see as a justifiable investment? The only Valve game on PS3 thus far was Team Fortress 2 running on a engine ported by an EA studio.
 
Well if we take it back a bit to pre-Left4Dead: Valve are a company born out of the PC's create and share environment - a philosophy that they have taken with them in every title they develop. They release SDK's, they answer emails about tech questions, and they are relativity open with their IP as part of a culture. For as long as people have been making PC games, people have been modifying and sharing them - and Valve are no different.
 
Roll it forward again, and Left4Dead has launched on PC and Xbox 360, and rumours of the first DLC pack are bouncing around. Now what the rumours could not agree on: was what it would cost on the Xbox. Eventually it came out for free, something the second DLC pack didn't manage. With Team Fortress 2, Valve had the whole development team continuing to push content and updates long after launch - the size of the team has scaled back a bit, but they still are pushing content nearly 3 years later . The cost of developing content and pushing it through Steam was simply part of their business costs - They did not charge people for access to it. An attitude Microsoft pretty much told them to leave at the door. With the launch of Left4Dead2 Valve started talking about trying to bring community maps to 360, and then promptly stopped again. The Left4Dead2 DLC that followed was a pay-for package, with Valve citing Microsoft as the reason. This was a shift for Valve.
 
So where does any of this come in? Well when Gabe announced Portal 2 for PS3, he said it would have SteamWorks support. SteamWorks is Valve's name for a framework of libraries that allow for quick integration with many of Steam's features such as: Achievements, Updates, and the Community/Friends stuff. He also announced Steam Cloud support, a system which will sync save games and settings to Steam servers. This is something Valve would not get away with on 360 - offering competing services to Microsoft's.
 
My theory is it's also something Sony where not too hot on letting them get away with either - hence Gabe's comments about wanting the PS3 to be open - but, for what ever reasons, backed off. I wouldn't say this is a step towards a big happy future where we all play together, but it would not surprise me that when L4D3 comes out - PS3 owners get a much better deal out of it than their 360 counter-parts. Call me crazy, but this was my theory - once I'd stopped going Valve fanboy over the Portal 2 trailer. Also, Kevin Butler - right up until he started talking about kings.  
 
Tell me what you think, am I crazy? 
Before you accuse me of being PS3 fanboy, I don't own either console - although am looking seriously at getting one or the other, was hoping E3 would make it easier to decide.

#2 Posted by wsowen02 (320 posts) -

Makes sense to me.  I just wonder how many games 'being best on PS3' before MS decides they are going to have to do something about it.  I can't see them letting that go on for too long before they open up their wallets.

#3 Edited by AndrewB (7624 posts) -

Yeah, that's pretty much the logical conclusion that led to these events. Microsoft burned Valve with their cash hogginess, Sony was probably already talking with Gabe about his comments, got the bright idea to work with him instead of just trying to stifle him, they sniped away Valve with promises of change, an open platform, and probably a little money too. Valve gets to stick their tongue out at Microsoft, Microsoft gets to keep on making really dumb mistakes for the sake of making as much money as they can right now and not worrying about the whole making money over time thing, and Sony gets a great big boost to their roster of "friendly" game developers.
 
All I can hope is that Microsoft learns their lesson and opens things up to woo them back in, but I don't see that happening. In the mean time, I'll just keep buying Valve games over Steam for the PC, where I also have mod support, better graphics, and keyboard/mouse controls, among other things.

#4 Posted by odintal (1095 posts) -

I'm glad to see someone who understands the difference between steamworks and steam. 
 
I don't think you're crazy and I could see this leading to a different direction. Possibly a free TF2 update for PS3 that has all the class updates.

#5 Posted by Spoonman671 (4642 posts) -

I think that the biggest reason Valve is bringing Portal 2 to PS3 is so that they can fully integrate their games-as-a-service mantra on the 360.  Being forced to charge for DLC on 360 really screws up Valve's business model, which has always been about free additions to their games in order to increase the longevity of their sales.  Finding out that if you buy Half-Life you'll get Counter-Strike for free makes it more enticing to pick up the game even years after it was first released.  By moving over to the PS3, which allows them to add as much free content as they want, they are really forcing Microsoft's hand on the issue.  Frankly, I doubt that Portal 2 will even be released before Microsoft grants Valve an exception and allows them to do whatever they want through XBL.  Unless, of course, they have an actual exclusivity deal with Sony as far as SteamWorks is concerned.

#6 Posted by sewageking (31 posts) -

I also don't really understand what Gabe Newell meant with the quote about Game Cubes and Macs.  The Gamecube was actually considered to be easier and more accessible to develop for compared to its competition, (PS2 and Xbox) whereas Apple typically wants to control what is accessible through their devices.  Obviously this is truer of the iPods and iPad than it is of their computers, but you get the idea. 
 
More to the point, though, I've always thought it odd of Valve to completely disavow the PS3.  They have made games on Xbox and PS2, so clearly they don't hate consoles.  The fact that they aren't even willing to touch the PS3 reflects badly on them.  It seems like they aren't even capable of making a PS3 game.  Admittedly, it is a more complicated system to develop for than Xbox 360; it's also a much more powerful system, which is seemingly what scared them away.  Anyway, I don't have an Xbox 360, and my computer probably won't be powerful enough to play Portal 2 properly.  I'm glad that Portal 2 is coming to PS3 because I'm a fan of the original, and hopefully this means that the inevitable Half-Life 3 will make it to PS3. 

#7 Posted by AndrewGaspar (2418 posts) -

I'm pretty sure everything you said is EXACTLY the reason. Valve and Microsoft have very publicly butt heads on this issue and Sony was ready to pick up where Microsoft left off. Sure, Valve, particularly Gabe, might not like the PS3's architecture, but in terms of network and software, it's much more open than the 360.

#8 Posted by mrhankey (695 posts) -
@sewageking said:
" I also don't really understand what Gabe Newell meant with the quote about Game Cubes and Macs.  The Gamecube was actually considered to be easier and more accessible to develop for compared to its competition, (PS2 and Xbox) whereas Apple typically wants to control what is accessible through their devices.  Obviously this is truer of the iPods and iPad than it is of their computers, but you get the idea.  More to the point, though, I've always thought it odd of Valve to completely disavow the PS3.  They have made games on Xbox and PS2, so clearly they don't hate consoles.  The fact that they aren't even willing to touch the PS3 reflects badly on them.  It seems like they aren't even capable of making a PS3 game.  Admittedly, it is a more complicated system to develop for than Xbox 360; it's also a much more powerful system, which is seemingly what scared them away.  Anyway, I don't have an Xbox 360, and my computer probably won't be powerful enough to play Portal 2 properly.  I'm glad that Portal 2 is coming to PS3 because I'm a fan of the original, and hopefully this means that the inevitable Half-Life 3 will make it to PS3.  "
I just want to point something out...The Gamecube and the ability to develop games was not what Gabe was commenting on...he was merely providing comparisons of CLOSED platforms. The fact that Portal 2 is coming to the PS3 essentially with STEAM rolled up in a bundle for PS3 gamers says a lot about how OPEN the PS3 is...and may also attract other developers that generally wouldn't want to develop for the PS3.
#9 Posted by afrofools (1348 posts) -

I agree with most of what you said (if not, then all of it). Gabe's statements sure are confusing. Valve might push "screened" community mods/levels to the PS3 through a new or existing Steamworks feature.
 
To me, the xbox is a console bloated up with crap (such as "spotlight"), no fun 1st party games (except for Reach - probably), poor system stability, a pay gate to online features which should be a player's right (& no I'm not talking about multiplayer), terrible discounts, overpriced proprietary junk, overpriced downloadable content (I'm glad they popularised DLC though),  gay looking avatars (which I wanted before nxe came out - oh the irony), slow game library browsing, online region-locked content, games that ask where to save even after the first time you play, letting EA use its own shitty servers, menu navigation lag, message send delay,  requiring indie devs without publishers to sell their game exclusively with them, system failures, software update console corruption.
 
The only thing xbox did right other than introduce DLC was.... wait for it.... Achievements.. & messenger friend import (if you use that). Zune was a neat innovation, I'll say that even though it doesn't work for me or my neighbour.
 
I know the possibilities of the internet, and the awesome things that can be done with it, but I really miss my PS2 since owning the worst game console I have ever owned (xbox 360),and despite all the really awesome games on the PS3, I am just to scared it will be the same shit (or worse) as the 360.

#10 Posted by jonnyboy (2920 posts) -

 Sony charge for PSN+. 
Throw money at Valve. 
Valve eats crow.
Voila! Portal 2 on PS3

#11 Posted by HitmanAgent47 (8576 posts) -

Xbox360 didn't want to use steamcloud and ps3 did. That's what changed his mind, microsoft live tried to take over everything as usual and gabe didn't like that.

#12 Posted by Sander (414 posts) -

Hey good topic here, couple questions: 
On multiplatform releases, how come I've never noticed a difference between PS3 DLCs and Xbox DLCs if there are these differences? 
Will I need PSN Plus to take advantage of the enhancements?

#13 Posted by Lego_My_Eggo (1055 posts) -
@Sander said:
" Hey good topic here, couple questions: On multiplatform releases, how come I've never noticed a difference between PS3 DLCs and Xbox DLCs if there are these differences? Will I need PSN Plus to take advantage of the enhancements? "
For paid DLC im sure MS and Sony are more or less the same, this is more about updates. It appears MS has a lot more rules about what you can and cannot do on there network and may include a fee. Sony on the other hand have a much more open network that allows developers to do things like free user Mods for Unreal Tournament 3 or something like Steamworks . But there is a downside to being to open like Metal Gear Solid 4. i don't think that game used PSN in anyway other then needing a PSN name, everything else was handled by Konami including DLC and its online sucked.
 
And im sure that you will not need PSN+ for this because its more a Vale thing then it is Sony.
#14 Posted by mrhankey (695 posts) -
@Xander128: 
 
Your logic is impecable, however, let's hope L4D3 is a ways off.
#15 Posted by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -
@jonnyboy said:
"  Sony charge for PSN+.  Throw money at Valve.  Valve eats crow. Voila! Portal 2 on PS3 "
makes sense to me
#16 Posted by scarace360 (4828 posts) -
@Ahmad_Metallic said:
" @jonnyboy said:
"  Sony charge for PSN+.  Throw money at Valve.  Valve eats crow. Voila! Portal 2 on PS3 "
makes sense to me "
seems fair.
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