Valve won’t be releasing any games specifically for its upcoming Linux-based SteamOS, the company’s Greg Coomer confirmed to IGN. “You won’t see an exclusive killer app for SteamOS from us. We’re not going to be doing that kind of thing,” he said.
The actual reasoning does fit with Valve’s broader vision, both for SteamOS and for the continued development of gaming technology in general. “We believe that, in maybe five years from now, folks will find it a quite antiquated notion that you should assume that when you change devices or platforms, that you lose all of your other games and friends,” Coomer said. “We’re hoping to unify, to get Steam to be as platform- and context-agnostic as possible. You shouldn’t have to shed that every generation, or even slightly shed it.”
A lot can happen in five years… and a lot of money can potentially be lost. Valve’s attitude sounds great in theory, but the fact is that SteamOS is about to enter an extremely crowded market that is dominated by two deeply entrenched audiences that already favor Microsoft and Sony console brands, respectively. Add to that the fact that SteamOS is an entirely new and unfamiliar operating system – albeit a free one – for an audience that is largely made up of Windows (and some Mac OS) users.
The pressure is on Valve to convince people that SteamOS is a viable alternative to Windows. That’s going to take compatibility with the bulk of the Steam library, but a few platform exclusives certainly wouldn’t hurt. If there’s any reliable way to lure dedicated PC gamers over to Linux, dangling a platform-exclusive Half-Life 3 would probably do the trick.
That said, the income Valve stands to make from releasing any of its beloved properties on multiple platforms could be significantly more, so perhaps skipping exclusives is a wise move after all. SteamOS certainly promises to disrupt the PC gaming market to some extent, even without exclusives.