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Tuesday, March 01, 2022

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Adeon Writer

Gabe has his heart close to the community on steam. He gets thousands of emails a day, and frequently asserts that he reads every single one.

Given he reads them and remembers them, I would assume the reason Valve hasn't pursued a Metaverse is the same reason any steam gamer already knows:

We don't want one.

Martin K.

It might be useful to break down the most popular ideas of what today's metaverses are.

Partly, Newell appears to refer to the crypto bros' metaverses, which were never attractive to gamers and will only benefit a tiny percentage of their user base, i.e. sooner or later that metaverse idea will be disappointing to the vast majority of its fan base.

Then there is the Ready-Player-One-inspired idea that the metaverse is like many AAA open worlds in one game - think GTA, Red Dead Redemption, EVE Online, and many more all in one game. Developing such a metaverse is just not a solid business idea - neither with nor without VR support. (Hint: if it was a good idea, then it would be a much better idea to develop just a small part of it at much lower cost and risk.)

Somewhat related is the idea that the metaverse is not a game but a layer on top of many (AAA) games such that they become more "interoperable", which might include many things (e.g. sharing avatar skins, virtual equipment, achievements, communication across games, etc.). Of course, Valve is very interested in pushing that idea forward for games on Steam, but they probably have worked on all the low-hanging fruits already and know very well how difficult the other parts are.

Then there are multiverses with user-generated content such as ROBLOX, Minecraft, Fortnite Creative, Core, Second Life, VRChat, Rec Room, Horizon Worlds, etc. With Steam Workshop, Valve had already a lot of experience with monetizable user-generated content and they integrated more features of UGC multiverses into the Steam ecosystem (SteamVR Home, SteamVR Workshop, improved Steam client with better party chat, etc.). I guess the slow adoption of VR hardware and the limited appeal of UGC multiverses to the Steam audience convinced Valve that UGC multiverses do not fundamentally challenge Steam's business model, giving them time to further polish and expand their ecosystem.

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