Valve: Vista, Wii and Orange Box

Some interesting quotes in the “big profile on Valve”: in the latest issue of ‘Edge’ magazine (the one with ‘Rock Band’ on the cover).

For example, head honcho Gabe Newell notes that only two percent of Steam’s customers (which they can measure with scary precision) are running Windows Vista. I knew Vista wasn’t doing too well, but two percent! That’s just… rock bottom.

h2. Wii

Newell also reckons that, “The Wii is a big hole in our strategy right now. It’s clearly challenging game designers to think very, very differently.”

This is so true. The thing is, Wii is a runaway success, and it all seems to be based on the appeal of ‘Wii Sports’. Where are all the games appealing to the people who bought a Wii for the joys of playing tennis and bowling with a Wii Remote? There’s obviously an opportunity here — and I don’t think the publishers releasing Wii Sports clones are getting it. I’m looking at stuff like ‘Deca Sports’ and ‘EA Playground’. Games that might do just fine, but will never be homeruns.

Nintendo’s own ‘Wii Fit’ is one answer. But only one answer to a question that’s been so obviously out in the open since last Christmas?

h2. Orange Box

Finally, my two cents on Valve’s own release this fall, ‘The Orange Box’ — the collection of past parts of ‘Half-Life 2’, the follow-up ‘Episode 2’ and the innovative ‘Team Fortress 2’ and ‘Portal’.

In its profile, Edge seems to be pretty psyched about it — and absolutely confident about it becoming a smash hit. Their logic going something like, the three new parts only appeal to smaller groups of people. But put them together and everyone will love them. That just doesn’t make sense. Stick three niche games together and what do you get? They’re still niche games.

I’m not sure just how many copies of ‘Episode 1′ Valve sold, but it can’t be anywhere near the millions they sold of ‘Half-Life 2′. And to be frank, I would be very surprised if The Orange Box came close either.

There’s a second reason for this: it’s just not obvious what you’re getting. I mean, what’s an ‘Orange Box’? It looks like one of these bargain bin collections–like the version of ‘Half-Life’ I bought years after it came out, including the expansion packs–but you pay full-price.

On the other hand, I’m personally planning to buy the Xbox 360 version. But that probably has more to do with it being the first time I can play Half-Life 2 (and Portal, which I’m really excited about) on Xbox 360 — for which my love has recently been rekindled, thanks to ‘BioShock’ and ‘Halo 3′. Also, I don’t reckon my behaviour is representative for the average consumer.

Who knows, maybe I’m just wrong. We’ll see.