In a recent round table discussion, Valve founder Gabe Newell gave some insight into why the company has no current interest in console development.
“We get really frustrated working in walled gardens,” said Newell in a report by Eurogamer.
Besides the more closed-off system, Newell also cited skittishness about F2P games as a source of dissatisfaction. “So you try to talk to someone who’s doing product planning on a console about free-to-play games and they say ‘Oh, we’re not sure free-to-play is a good idea’ and you’re like ‘the ship has left’,” he said.
Newell also has a problem with the limitations placed on updating software on other platforms. “There have been cases where we’ve updated products 5-6 times in a day,” he said. “When we did the original iOS of Steam App, right, we shipped it, we got a whole bunch of feedback and like the next day we’re ready to do an update. We weren’t able to get that update out for six months! And we couldn’t find out why they wouldn’t release it! They wouldn’t tell us. This is the life that you have in these environments. And finally they shipped it! And they wouldn’t tell us why they finally shipped it.
“So for us, while we’re spending all of our time trying to be as tunnel-vision in this loop with our customers, to all of a sudden have this complete uncertainty about doing updates… Like we don’t know how to operate.”
Valve has had a fruitful, if not rocky past with console development. Starting in 2007 with the release of The Orange Box and spanning to both Left 4 Dead entires, Portal 2, and even a console version of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the company has had a track record of somewhat abandoning their console ports as the PC versions evolve into new and improved products.
The best example of this has been Team Fortress 2, which has evolved from its 2007 form into a far more polished and balanced free-to-play shooter in 2017. The same can be said of Left 4 Dead 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, as both have received entirely new content or mod support that has never seen the light of day in their console ports.