Gabe Newell: Open Source will Make VR Great

/ 3 years ago

Gabe Newell: Open Source will Make VR Great

Valve’s Gabe Newell is betting the farm on virtual reality. Valve famously teamed up with HTC to produce the Vive, regarded by many to be the premier VR headset on the market today, and Newell has announced that his company is currently producing three new VR games. In a rare interview with Polygon, Newell has spoken at length about the future of VR, and revealed that he believes it can only thrive if both its hardware and software is open-source.

“We’re optimistic,” Newell told Polygon. “We think VR is going great. It’s going in a way that’s consistent with our expectations,” says Newell. “We’re also pretty comfortable with the idea that it will turn out to be a complete failure.”

“If you don’t try things that don’t fail you probably aren’t trying to do anything very interesting,” he explained. “So we hope that we’ll find stuff that gamers will say is awesome and is a huge leap forward.”

Regarding open platforms, of which Newell has always been a fan – he loves Linux and has repeatedly criticised Apple and Microsoft’s “walled gardens,” referring to iOS and Windows, respectively – he thinks that effectively crowdsourcing future development will help VR developers learn faster.

“We’re at the beginning of this,” Newell said. “Vive is the most expensive device on the market. It’s barely capable of doing a marginally adequate job of delivering a VR experience. We have to figure out all sorts of other problems before even the hardware question gets answered, much less what’s going to be the compelling content.

“So, damn, this needs to be open, right?,” he declared. “We need open hardware standards, we need open software standards. That’s what developers need in order to go and explore the space. As those pieces come together then we’ll start learning from our successes and failures, from other people’s successes and failures. Then we’ll start to see lots and lots of great applications.”

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