Gabe Newell made a good decision during the COVID-19 crisis: already on vacation in New Zealand, he decided to go ahead and stay. New Zealand, as you may already know, moved aggressively against the Coronavirus with a total blockade that paid dividends for the island nation: as we in the United States are dealing with the consequences of our half-hearted crackdowns and early reopens, New Basically, Zealand it’s getting back to normal, and Gabe Newell is talking about throwing a thank you party. It’s much easier to take refuge in place when you’re a billionaire, but it’s even easier when you’re a billionaire in New Zealand.
This is all to explain why, exactly, the head of Valve Corporation and one of the leading figures in the gaming industry answered questions about what appears to be a relatively mundane talk show in New Zealand. In this case, the console war came down to a fairly simple question:
“This Christmas, PlayStation and Xbox are coming out with new consoles, which one is better?”
“Oh, the Xbox,” Newell responds, without missing a beat.
It’s quite remarkable how quickly Newell responds, to be honest, but it’s not a surprising response. As the owner of Steam, the most important market for PC Gaming, Newell is emphatically a type of PC, so the console war is not exactly its wheelhouse. But within that world, Microsoft is the company that makes Windows not hurt.
Beyond that, Microsoft’s next-generation approach is simply Valve’s style. It’s about openness, compatibility, and flexibility across platforms, the kinds of things that are much more in line with the world of PC gaming than with the world of console games. Sony is not as intense about its walled garden as it was before:Horizon Zero Dawn’s The Steam launch is evidence of that, but it’s still much more separate from the PC world than Xbox Series X. Game Pass could, in a theoretical sense, be perceived as a threat to Steam, but that’s years ago.
PlayStation has its own gaming billionaire on its side – I doubt Epic’s Tim Sweeney answers that question in a fairly direct way as Newell did, but he’s also particularly excited about the PS5. So don’t worry, things stay the same.