So the rumours of a big Valve press conference at GDC sort of fizzled out to nothing, but the studio still dropped a number of impressive announcements – including the Source Engine 2, which will be available – for free – to developers.
Company president Gabe Newell explains:
We continue to see very strong growth in PC Gaming, with Steam growing 50% in the last 12 months. With these announcements we hope that we are helping build on that momentum.
Realistically, we’ve known that Valve has been working on a new Source Engine for years. Gabe Newell himself confirmed development back in 2012, following early rumours, and we saw what looked awfully like a new engine last year in a couple of places, but now it’s officially official.
Company spokesman Jay Stelly continues:
The value of a platform like the PC is how much it increases the productivity of those who use the platform. With Source 2, our focus is increasing creator productivity. Given how important user generated content is becoming, Source 2 is designed not for just the professional developer, but enabling gamers themselves to participate in the creation and development of their favorite games.
…and it might just have been peer pressure that’s made Valve offer the technology for free – both Epic and Unity have recently made their game-making tools available to everyone, with Stelly explaining the three big players are helping to continue the PC’s dominance as the “premiere content authoring platform”.
The studio also showed off its virtual technology offerings, again featuring the Valve/HTC Vive headset revealed earlier this week. Developer versions will be available in the second half of 2015, with consumers getting the new hardware “by the end of the year”.
GDC 2015 is the 13th anniversary of the first time we were ever told about Steam, which is now the leading platform for games and software across PC, Mac and Linux. It’s grown to more than 125 million active accounts worldwide, and now boasts in-home streaming, broadcasting, music and user-created stores, as well as a hefty stack of games and utilities.
The big question now: What game will Valve launch to show off its new engine?