E3 2010: Why Valve on the PS3 can change EVERYTHING

So Portal 2 is coming to the PS3. And previously PlayStation-phobic Valve boss Gabe Newell has given the machine his full endorsement at Sony's press conference. Good news, right? Yay! Woo! Portal! Cake memes! Etc!

But that's not the important bit. That's not the important bit by a long shot. Something much bigger and more significant was said by Gabe at that press conference, but everyone seemed too excited by GlaDOS to notice. Steam is coming to the PS3, and depending on how it pans out, it could be an absolute game-changer for the console. So join me now, as I explain what I think might really be behind Gabe's appearance, what will happen next, and how it could mean huge and very exciting changes for the PS3.

Ken Kutaragi was right

Forget, for a second, Gabe’s previous criticisms that the PS3 is an ungodly bitch to develop for. Forget, for a second, that by most accounts it is. Purely in terms of the culture of the machine, it makes sense for Valve to be working on the PlayStation 3.

Unless you’re the platform-holder, consoles are usually inherently closed platforms, standardised, regulated and controlled without any room for developers - or gamers for that matter - to add features or services of their own. The PS3 is unique in that it allows a degree of hardware customisation, is far more open as a multimedia device than the 360, and is managed with an ideology of openness to developer freedom. That’s what Crazy Ken meant when he described it as a PC.

We’ve already seen that latter point proven with Unreal Tournament 3’s mod support. As a pioneering PC developer with its own distribution platform in Steam, the PS3 is on paper the best cultural fit for Valve, as consoles go.

But big deals have probably happened

That culture taken as given, I still doubt Gabe’s showboating press conference support of the PS3 was just a case of newfound PlayStation-love. It’s nice for extreme Sony fanboys to believe that he woke up from a nightmare one night screaming about how he’d got it all wrong, or spent an unpleasant evening in the company of three ghosts who explained the past, present and future consequences of his lack of support. But it just didn’t happen.

Above: Looks kind of at home, doesn't it?

What probably did happen was that Valve were beginning to look into the potential of the PS3 as an open platform just as Sony realised that it wasn’t really going to have anything in the way of megaton announcements for this year’s show (sorry guys, but another GT5 trailer and an on-stage ice cream van did not do it for me).

So one called the other and questions were asked. Questions like ‘Gabe, aside from the big bag of money next to my desk, what would it take to get Valve’s full support and endorsement on stage this year?’ And answers were put forward. Answers like ‘Total freedom to do whatever we want with your system.’ And thus Portal 2 was coming to the PS3, and thus Gabe was going to the Sony conference. And this is where the really important and interesting stuff starts to happen.

It’s more about Steam than Portal 2

The most important thing that was said when Gabe announced Portal 2 at Sony’s press conference? ‘Steam will be part of that experience’. Getting Steam on a console is potentially a much bigger deal than any one game release could ever be. This, I suspect, is what Valve really wanted. Steam is now, rightly, inherent to PC gaming culture. From the perspective of gamers, devs and publishers alike, it just makes sense, being a great one-stop solution to all of the distribution, DRM, patching and multiplayer elements of PC gaming, in a way that (mostly) everyone is happy with.

Above: 1:58. That's the bit that really matters. Also note Gabe's prolonged emphasis on the openness of the PS3. This speech was not about Portal

Steam is increasingly dominant in the PC space, particularly since Valve started allowing third parties to use all its components in their games via the release of the Steamworks publishing suite. But with tens of millions of PS3s out there, it can go further. The simple spread of brand awareness would be huge for a start.

Now I don’t know to what extent Steam will appear on the PS3. It could just be that elements of it will work in the background, allowing Valve to handle game updates and manage cloud-based save data themselves as they do on the PC. But it could also appear in some form as a proper Steam application in the XMB. And from there, it could evolve and expand immensely, just has it has on its original platform.

One the next page, how Steam could change the face of the PS3


  • luttman23 - June 25, 2010 10:20 a.m.

    Awesome news, Steam is awesome and so are Valve. The PS3 Store is not awesome, it's horrific to navigate. I wish sony would update it so that you could go to 'PS3 Demos' and 'Downloadable PS3 Games' instead of bunching them together along with games that are available in shops but that you can't download and are without demos. Back on topic though, steam on PS3 makes me excited.
  • blankpixelsCG - June 21, 2010 7:38 p.m.

    No. I don't think that's what Gabe meant at all.
  • DryvBy - June 20, 2010 2:04 a.m.

    If this is so, this will be some of the best news ever. Steam is perfect and the PS3 is getting there.
  • sharklion - June 19, 2010 9:31 p.m.

    Yes! any doubts about the ps3 will be destroyed! Who needs halo when you've got steam? So worth the money.
  • PeptoTurismo - June 19, 2010 6:02 a.m.

    I really think people missed the Steam announcement because they heard 'Steve': "I’m excited that Steve will be part of that experience." See? Anyway, I think more probably it was the changing of the fonts back to classic Playstation lettering and the return to matte plastic that turned him on to the PS3. Since the redesigned 360 is so glossy, Gabe just couldn't see a future partnership with Microsoft, which is really too bad because their HQs are so close he could ride his bike back and forth between them daily.
  • GangsterJew92 - June 19, 2010 3:21 a.m.

    I'm excited for Steam being added to the PS3, even though I don't own one. What I'm hoping is that Microsoft will do the same to keep up with Sony, so I finally don't have to pay $7 for 2 chapters of a Left 4 Dead Campaign
  • philipshaw - June 18, 2010 6:44 p.m.

    I have to agree, people saying Sony didn't have huge annoumcments are wrong. This a huge deal for now and in the future
  • D0CCON - June 18, 2010 5:22 p.m.

    Good thing I decided to keep my underused PS3. It just might start getting more use soon...
  • vinicusg.t.guedes - June 18, 2010 12:19 p.m.

    Just dreaming here but....PS store could become steam, would be awesome.
  • Trg564 - June 18, 2010 11:19 a.m.

    Steam Achievements would be very nice, L4D series would be awesome and original Halflife would be the single best thing since some Swiss bloke welded a knife and a screwdriver together
  • Gex4212 - June 18, 2010 11:09 a.m.

    @CrazedPenguin I dont think the ps3 has been modded to the point you could play pirated games. I read somewhere though a article about some hacker modding his PS3 to do something I forgot what by using the console's Install OS feature which is why sony removed it. Even if it were possible the media in some of the games is just so damn big(MGS4 for instance) and blu-ray discs are expensive.
  • jmcgrotty - June 18, 2010 6:22 a.m.

    What a pathetic article. You need to be a total dumbshit to use Steam. Give me a break.
  • GoodGuyWithACrappyJob - June 18, 2010 5:13 a.m.

    You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back, as Beverly Rubik once said.
  • JohnnyMaverik - June 17, 2010 11:25 p.m.

    *hate** developing for the ps3*
  • JohnnyMaverik - June 17, 2010 11:24 p.m.

    For everybody saying Valve still help developing for the PS3, a few months or so back they acquired a team of devs who specialise in PS3 development. I imagine they will be taking care of porting the games over to 360 while the teams that were already there who don't specialise in PS3 development can just concentrate on doing what they were already doing.
  • Sabtos - June 17, 2010 11:11 p.m.

    No way. No fkn way. Steam is coming to PS3 and I didn't not hear about this anywhere else but here???? This is absolutely enormous news and I'm not afraid to recognize that unlike apparently the rest of the gaming journalists out there outside of this site. WTF?! I frequent many other gaming sites, this is insane news.
  • Gameguy94 - June 17, 2010 11:06 p.m.

    I Would love to play L4D on my PS3 but isn't owned by Microsoft similar to how Halo is? Or am I wrong? Also will other games besides Valve games be on this new Steam on PS3?
  • newgames128 - June 17, 2010 9:42 p.m.

    It was definitely the biggest surprise of this year's E3.
  • CH3BURASHKA - June 17, 2010 8:54 p.m.

    I think Steam support will end with patches for existing games. No way is Sony going to allow people to buy games off of Steam instead of their store.
  • KaiokenKid - June 17, 2010 8:41 p.m.

    Im talkinga bout Steam on PS3, not Portal 2. Right now, all Valve said was they will allow steam works, which sint the same as steam to the best of my knowledge. I think this article was mostly talking about if Steam the store came to PS3. Or atleast tahts what I got from it. If their was one console that I would think would kill for something like that and would make sense given previous hsitory with valve I think it would be the 360. And MS, not wanting to give SONY any form of way to knock them off on tehir second palce lead on them, would probaly out money sony to stop it from happening.

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