Gabe Newell talks Team Fortress 2 Comic, Steam

Valve founder Gabe Newell spoke at the DICE summit in Las Vegas yesterday, lecturing on his thoughts for the future of Valve and of the videogame industry itself. Among the many subjects covered by Newell was the announcement that not only will there be a Team Fortress 2 comic, but that it will be produced in-house by the game’s creators.

During the lecture – reported by Gamasutra – Newell discussed his vision of gaming companies, and Valve in particular, providing entertainment as a service, rather than a product. Newell sees The Team Fortress 2 comic, as well as the the quite brilliant TF2 promo videos, as an example of Valve’s move in this direction, becoming not just videogame developer but an ‘entertainment company.’

Taking creative control over the comic also allows Valve to oversee the quality of the product. “Why does it work?” Newell asked. “It works because the people who build it are the same people who build the game.” He said he didn’t want, “some third-party hoping to make a quick buck and take advantage of some opening weekend marketing push”.

Newell went on to discuss Steam, describing Valve’s online digital distribution hub as “entertainment as a service” in much the same way as Netflix is to the film industry and iTunes is to the music industry. He used Team Fortress 2 as an example of this, explaining that the game’s initial release was “just the start.” Since then a total of 63 updates have been issued, with the team continuing to improve and augment. This ‘service’ not only allows Valve to be in constant dialogue with consumers but also offers them value, said Newell.

Of course, there are financial benefits to this approach too, with significant TF2 sales spikes coinciding with the game’s major updates and short film releases. Also discussed was the recent half-price sale of Left 4 Dead on Steam, which Newell claims saw an astonishing 3,000 percent increase in sales, creating more revenue than the game did during its release window.

Newell conculded the lecture by suggesting that if the industry ignored Valve’s innovations it would be as bad a mistake as sticking to 2D graphics.