Sunday, October 16th 2011

Walled Garden Outfit Valve Accuses Apple Of Operating A Walled Garden

You've got to laugh at the hypocrisy of big companies sometimes. It's a well known fact that Apple operates a very closed and controlling walled garden eco system with all of their products, courtesy of the late Steve Jobs. Examples include the iPhone, which can only purchase apps from the official Apple apps store and the iPod, which can also only sync with iTunes, both due to deliberate vendor lock-in using a combination of hardware and software DRM (Digital Restrictions Management). Apple claims that this is to ensure a seamless, consistent and high quality user experience. Savvy users know this to be only half the story, instead it's there to shut out competition and lock you in to Apple for everything in order to charge high prices for allegedly "premium" product. The only way to avoid this, is to jailbreak the devices (break the DRM) which conveniently (for Apple) voids the warranty on these expensive gadgets. Thankfully, this process is no longer underground, due to a recent court ruling that said jailbreaking was legal, much to Apple's displeasure.

However, the equally closed Valve, with their Steam gaming platform and it's account-based DRM has accused Apple of being a closed system! They are also "concerned" about it. This happened in an interview between Bellevue-based Valve's Gabe Newell and leading games investor Ed Fries at the WTIA TechNW conference. This has been reported in The Seattle Times in Brier Dudley's blog.
The Steam platform gives the illusion of openness, because it allows such things as game backups to be made and also allows a game to be played on any number of computers (one at a time of course) simply by installing the Steam client, the game and logging in. Like Apple, you can also only purchase from its own store, of course. However, it's certainly one of the "best" DRMs out there as far as DRM goes, given the various features of the Steam client, such as auto updates and social networking. However, the huge "but" in all this though, is that Valve do not let you sell on your used Steam games as a matter of corporate policy(SSA section E,(i)), although the system to transfer game access from one account to another has always been present and correct. This removes an individual's first sale rights as defined in law, but makes games companies ecstatic, because they have complained bitterly about used game sales allegedly eating into their business, as if they have any right to that used game money in the first place. It's exactly like car companies stopping you from selling your used motor, alleging that it hurts the sales of new cars. Utter rubbish. One wonders if this unreasonable restriction would truly stand up in court if someone with money took them on?

In the interview, Fries asked if these were the best of times, or the worst. For the clearest answer to this question, let's quote from Dudley's blog. Newell replied:
"It's a very interesting time."
"Our business is growing very rapidly both on the content side and on the service platform side so in that sense, business has never been better," Newell said. "The challenges we see looking forward are very rapidly evolving model for how value is created for customers."
After broad pursuit massively multiplayer online games, the free-to-play model is emerging as "a really interesting opportunity," he said.
But there are dark clouds forming, Newell continued, raising concerns about the closed-garden approach of platforms such as Apple's iOS.
"On the platform side, it's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms," he said.
Platform providers that used to use their role to enable developers "instead view themselves as more rent guys who are essentially driving their partner margins to zero," he said.
"They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things," he said.
Newell said that "very large structural investments and structural changes" are coming over the next few years that will threaten people who create value bulding things like the open Internet.
The conversation then moved onto consoles, but soon returned to discussion of closed systems. Notice how these closed systems act like the worst kind of monopolies, with the company running it squeezing their partners so hard that they make no money at all. Therefore, their greed ends up killing their golden goose and the business model fails for everyone. This is just the same as expecting people to work an average 9-5 office job without pay. Ridiculous. Dudley continues with:
Newell reiterated his concerns about a closed model being the "wrong philosophical approach" but one that people will emulate because of the success of Apple and Xbox Live.
"I'm worried that the things that traditionally have been the source of a lot of innovation are going - there's going to be an attempt to close those off so somebody will say 'I'm tired of competing with Google, I'm tired of compeitng with Facebook, I'll apply a console model and exclude the competitors I don't like from my world.'"
Fries asked Newell to clarify whether he sees Apple as being a closed platform.
"I consider Apple to be very closed," Newell said. "Let's say you have a book business and you are charging 5 to 7 percent gross margins. You can't exist in an Apple world because they want 30 percent and they don't care that you only have 7 percent to play with."
Doesn't Valve's Steam service also extract a "tax" on game companies that use the platform, Fries asked.
Newell said Steam gets a commission if games are sold through Steam, but developers can use its free tools and services and sell their games elsewhere and "we don't take anything."
If Valve were to make a hardware platform, it would open it up to competing distribution systems because openness is important to the future of the entertainment industry, he said.
So there you have it. Steam is wonderfully open in the sense that developers can use it flexibly and they don't charge high commissions, but the customer (gamer) is locked in tight, like a straitjacket. How is this an open system?

As the old saying goes, it's the pot calling the kettle black. Enjoy the picture.

As well as our primary news source, thanks also go to our secondary sources linked to in the article: Techdirt, TG Daily and Wikipedia.Source: The Seattle Times
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83 Comments on Walled Garden Outfit Valve Accuses Apple Of Operating A Walled Garden

#1
erocker
Kreij said:
I like the editorial/opinion pieces that Qubit writes. I've felt that TPU should have editorials for quite some time.
I've known about this issue (Gabe's opinion on Apple) for several days from reading other sites and this editorial is well researched and well done.
The title should display opinion, because ... (drum roll) ... it's Qubit opinion!!

It does not matter if I agree or not. Editorials are great for generating discussion and liven things up in a way that hard news cannot do. You, as a TPU member, have a LOT more freedom of expression than on many other sites, and this give you a chance to jump in and agree with Qubit or beat him up without (too much) fear of getting your ass kicked.

Keep up the good work Q. I disagree with your opinions many times, but that's what makes these editorials entertaining for me. :toast:

I think I just wrote an editorial on Qubit's editorial. :eek: :D
I'd prefer if opinion pieces were kept in an appropriate subforum and News was news. I'm not a big fan of editorial pieces in the News section. I think the new news poster should concentrate on news. Just my opinion. :ohwell:
Posted on Reply
#2
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Posted on Reply
#4
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
[H]@RD5TUFF said:
wewt :roll:

Should please the news nazi's
I don't always react to news nazis. But when I do, I change the laws.

j/k.

That "Editorial" tag has been there for ages. The last time I wrote an editorial piece, I was flamed napalmed. So I didn't bother about it. Qubit is free to exercise that privilege.
Posted on Reply
#5
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
FreedomEclipse said:
the master lecturing the apprentice?
No. Btarunr is the Sensei. We just study at his dojo. ;)

Bta
I was flamed napalmed
Is that your opinion piece burning in your avatar? lol
Posted on Reply
#6
[H]@RD5TUFF
/topic

Valve should start working with the other OS's better, to increase it's market share.
Posted on Reply
#7
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
btarunr said:

That "Editorial" tag has been there for ages. The last time I wrote an editorial piece, I was flamed napalmed. So I didn't bother about it. Qubit is free to exercise that privilege.
What was that about? I remember something about opinions..
Posted on Reply
#8
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Kreij said:
I like the editorial/opinion pieces that Qubit writes. I've felt that TPU should have editorials for quite some time.
I've known about this issue (Gabe's opinion on Apple) for several days from reading other sites and this editorial is well researched and well done.
The title should display opinion, because ... (drum roll) ... it's Qubit opinion!!

It does not matter if I agree or not. Editorials are great for generating discussion and liven things up in a way that hard news cannot do. You, as a TPU member, have a LOT more freedom of expression than on many other sites, and this give you a chance to jump in and agree with Qubit or beat him up without (too much) fear of getting your ass kicked.

Keep up the good work Q. I disagree with your opinions many times, but that's what makes these editorials entertaining for me. :toast:

I think I just wrote an editorial on Qubit's editorial. :eek: :D
Ah, there nothing quite like recursion is there? :D Now, let me do an editorial on your editorial...

Yes, editorials are good for making discussion. I saw this today in my RSS feed and thought it would make an excellent Sunday piece. I mean seriously, both companies are taking the p*ss - and this is coming from someone who uses Steam all the time and has spent literally hundreds of pounds on games with them.

Thanks for the kind words. :toast:

kid41212003 said:
I think stating your own opinion first before showing people the fact is a bad writing structure, but that's just my opinion.
Normally I'd agree with you, but I felt that in this instance it was fine to set up the scenario as I did - classic artistic licence! :)

kid41212003 said:
And since the title is giving the impression of "Valve is accusing Apple of operating a closed platform", it should be focusing on showing information about that.
I think I did that. :confused: I don't think going into the fine details of every lock-in on either side would actually make the article very interesting and crucially, make it considerably longer, so I just gave a few examples.

Anyway, thanks for your critique; it's always welcome. :toast:

erocker said:
I'd prefer if opinion pieces were kept in an appropriate subforum and News was news. I'm not a big fan of editorial pieces in the News section. I think the new news poster should concentrate on news. Just my opinion. :ohwell:
I think that's what the Editorial button is for and is why I added it later, as it became apparent that this really did fit in that category. The boundaries can be somewhat blurred, believe me, lol. Anyway, makes for a good Sunday read. :)

btarunr said:
I don't always react to news nazis. But when I do, I change the laws.

j/k.

That "Editorial" tag has been there for ages. The last time I wrote an editorial piece, I was flamed napalmed. So I didn't bother about it. Qubit is free to exercise that privilege.
Yeah, you're not kidding! :eek: :) Anyway, I've got my flameproof suit on, so I'm good. It's effective up to 1000 degrees, but TPU is at 1200, so I'll just have to tough it out. :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#9
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
[H]@RD5TUFF said:
/topic

Valve should start working with the other OS's better, to increase it's market share.
It's probably a cost (to implement and maintain) vs. ROI.
I would really be surprised if they have not looked into it.
Posted on Reply
#10
jpierce55
This kind of biased stuff does not belong as a news post at all!
Posted on Reply
#11
TheLaughingMan
So there you have it. Steam is wonderfully open in the sense that developers can use it flexibly and they don't charge high commissions, but the customer (gamer) is locked in tight, like a straitjacket. How is this an open system?
Ummm that is false. Steam is not a Walled Garden as it allows for a certain level of control that you do not get from Apple. On Steam you can change the appearance via user created skins, add games to the library outside of Steam, and user created mods to popular Valve games via the freely provided SDK. You do not get any of that from Apple. They will not let you mod or change anything about their software you are borrowing.

This whole article is based on personal conjecture and not facts. Steam is as much a "Walled Garden" as WinAMP and Songbird.
Posted on Reply
#12
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
TheLaughingMan said:
Ummm that is false. Steam is not a Walled Garden as it allows for a certain level of control that you do not get from Apple. On Steam you can change the appearance via user created skins, add games to the library outside of Steam, and user created mods to popular Valve games via the freely provided SDK. You do not get any of that from Apple. They will not let you mod or change anything about their software you are borrowing.

This whole article is based on personal conjecture and not facts. Steam is as much a "Walled Garden" as WinAMP and Songbird.
I'm thinking about the crucial area of being able to sell on your unwanted games - that's a straightjacket alright. It's true that they allow you more freedoms in other areas, so I explained that in my article and even acknowledged it as the "best" DRM out there.
Posted on Reply
#13
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
TheLaughingMan said:
This whole article is based on personal conjecture and not facts. Steam is as much a "Walled Garden" as WinAMP and Songbird.
Wait ! That's your opinion! Did you just write an editorial on Qubits editoral? :roll:
Sunday Editorials FTW !!

On topic : Every software distribution system, by nature, has some closed aspects to it.
Otherwise it's just a torrent site.
Posted on Reply
#14
eidairaman1
Id rather have physical media in my hands when i buy games even tho its just code on a piece of plastic.

n wut steam said makes no sense, EA DM was another closed system too.

But Im glad they ruled jail breaking was legal, I feel that you should be able to get apps anywhere without the app store or Androids version of it, whether you pay or not.

Video game consoles are region restricted n people hack them so they can play import games- or example get additional playback functions- like the wii for DVD. I notice some of the good games dont make it to US shores at all.

Those who owned Tatsunoko vs Capcom that was the first game after MVC2 to come out in almost a decade- it almost didnt make it to US shores cuz of licensing issues so they scrapped one character from the US version and added a few other characters.
Posted on Reply
#15
MilkyWay
An editorial is a subject and an argument, interpretation or criticism of that.

Lots of times i was confused by the punctuation in the article. A sentence cannot be started with therefore. The word ridiculous shouldn't be on its own one word sentence. Why make the second paragraph a new paragraph?

"In the interview, Fries asked if these were the best of times, or the worst. For the clearest answer to this question, let's quote from Dudley's blog."

In the interview Fries asked if these were the best of times or the worst; for the clearest answer to this question let's quote from Dudley's blog.
Posted on Reply
#16
3volvedcombat
"......but the customer (gamer) is locked in tight, like a straitjacket. ....."


This came to mind after reading what Q said,
Its not necessarily the (gamer) in a straitjacket.

Its the profile, on which the "gamer" purchased the game. I have multiple Steam Profiles with different game's on them.

I can completely understand that steam does not allow there digital copy's of games to be tossed around because of steams security and cloud service.

If Steam did not flex there arms there, you sure as HELL bet that a lot of game's would not be on there cloud, there forced to. There pretty much forced to do that, so they can give the best experience to customers.

Steam is pretty versatile because you can use the program without Purchasing a single item, get FREE game's, and FREE service to the steam cloud(community). You can also set steam up to Launch and work with non-steam games. That's about as versatile as it get's.


APPLE, is a different story. iTunes is great, you can import your music, manage your account's, organize ect ect..

But IN ORDER to use itunes as it is meant to be, you NEED a Ipod/Iphone/Isomething. That's big 100$+ to get into the "apple" garden. Then you can finally have the music you bought on something that's going to use it right. Don't they specially encrypt there music so it only performs reasonably on there expensive product.

I might not be explaining it right, but Steam is def no where a strait jacket as Itunes(apple) has turned into.
Posted on Reply
#17
eidairaman1
I do not believe in cloud/streaming games at all. This is starting to sound like computers without harddrives, big issue with cloud is latency between getting ur programs to run especially at peak times of day, so imagine if even the OS was in the cloud, take forever to run n same with opening stuff
Posted on Reply
#18
3volvedcombat
eidairaman1 said:
I do not believe in cloud/streaming games at all. This is starting to sound like computers without harddrives, big issue with cloud is latency between getting ur programs to run especially at peak times of day, so imagine if even the OS was in the cloud, take forever to run n same with opening stuff
There is no latency?

Why? Because with STEAM you can run in offline, or online regardless,

When you Install a Steam game from there cloud(install) your done. You do not have to re-connect to the server cloud to start the game....

It start's like a regular program EXE, you can even put interjection's on the start-up shortcut that appears on your desktop after you install. After that, your game connect's to the same server's (EA Servers, VALVE game servers, Microsoft servers) as if you were to stick your CD in the drive, only way to to play multiplier.


I do agree with you, on the part if you actually had to be interconnected to a cloud 24/7 to run a game, without data on your machine. Always buggy, and Ping has way to much latency for a smooth service.
Posted on Reply
#19
eidairaman1
3volvedcombat said:
There is no latency?

Why? Because with STEAM you can run in offline, or online regardless,

When you Install a Steam game from there cloud(install) your done. You do not have to re-connect to the server cloud to start the game....

It start's like a regular program EXE, you can even put interjection's on the start-up shortcut that appears on your desktop after you install. After that, your game connect's to the same server's (EA Servers, VALVE game servers, Microsoft servers) as if you were to stick your CD in the drive, only way to to play multiplier.


I do agree with you, on the part if you actually had to be interconnected to a cloud 24/7 to run a game, without data on your machine. Always buggy, and Ping has way to much latency for a smooth service.
Computers would be like stupid terminals again if everything was on the cloud
Posted on Reply
#20
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
qubit said:
However, the equally closed Valve, with their Steam gaming platform and it's account-based DRM has accused Apple of being a closed system!

Like Apple, you can also only purchase from its own store, of course.
I call horseshit on that.

Vavle is no where near as equally closed as Apple. They aren't selling graphics cards that only work with Steam, they haven't designed Steam so that it only works with certain approved hardware that only they manufacture.

Oh, and you don't have to purchase things only from the Steam store. You can purchase games from retail stores, and a large portion of the games on Steam can be purchased through other means(retail stores, other download services, etc.). Really the only games that you have to purchase through the Steam store are Valve produced games, and even then you don't even have to purchase them through the Steam store(most are available in retail form)...:wtf:
Posted on Reply
#21
pantherx12
I always thought steam was pretty damn good, you don't even have to buy games from them.

Technically the only reason you can sell a game second hand is because you own the physical medium the game is on NOT because you own the game.


The entire first post is based on a logical fallacy and lack of legal knowledge.



Why was this posted? It's just FUD, I thought their was a rule about FUD.


Damn TPU, what happen!?


Please if articles like this are to be posted can they be in their own dedicate section.

Posting this under news is just, well wrong as it implies it is all fact.
Posted on Reply
#22
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
pantherx12 said:
I always thought steam was pretty damn good, you don't even have to buy games from them.

Technically the only reason you can sell a game second hand is because you own the physical medium the game is on NOT because you own the game.


The entire first post is based on a logical fallacy and lack of legal knowledge.



Why was this posted? It's just FUD, I thought their was a rule about FUD.


Damn TPU, what happen!?


Please if articles like this are to be posted can they be in their own dedicate section.

Posting this under news is just, well wrong as it implies it is all fact.
Dude, I'm ok with criticism, even the harsh sort like newtekie's above, but please don't stray into personal attacks, ok? And by that I mean accusing me of posting FUD. It's untrue and quite a nasty accusation, as if I deliberately was up to no good, so please don't accuse me of this again.

EDIT: All sorted, we're good. No bad intention was meant. :) See later posts.
Posted on Reply
#23
[H]@RD5TUFF
qubit said:
Dude, I'm ok with criticism, even the harsh sort like newtekie's above, but please don't stray into personal attacks, ok? And by that I mean accusing me of posting FUD. It's untrue and quite a nasty accusation, as if I deliberately was up to no good, so please don't accuse me of this again.
Agreed it was marked as an editorial, if your looking for news in an editorial the only person to blame is yourself for looking for news in an opinionated editorial.

Not picking on Qbit, but this was his opinion on what happened, and people have the nards to call it out right lies, sad day indeed. :shadedshu
Posted on Reply
#24
NC37
Umm, you don't have to buy games on Steam to be able to use Steam with them. You can add non Steam games.

Its not right to compare Steam with Apple. Apple exercises complete control over their platform. Valve welcomes business with only a few house rules, which aren't in any way outlandishly strict like Apple. EA couldn't agree to it so they left and look what they made...their own little iTunes store where they exercise heavy control over the content. It is no surprise devs have not been in a hurry to embrace Origin.

Steam is good for the PC gaming industry, Origin is not. Origin will fail but EA is going to be dumping a lot of money to try and make sure it won't. All because some exec at EA decided they wanted a slice of the Steam pie and figured EA games could stand alone. Which would have worked had they not irrevocably pissed off PC gamers by doing it.
Posted on Reply
#25
laszlo
oops long time haven't seen mods posting so much and arguing in less than 50 posts
Posted on Reply
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