Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell has given one of his famously rare interviews with New Zealand’s 1 News. In it, he discusses his admiration for the island country, where he recently applied for residency after having sheltered there during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also used the interview to confirm that Valve does indeed have new games in development (though he declined to offer more details) and addressed rumors that the company plans to set up an office in New Zealand.
Mostly it just seems like Newell is having an absolutely lovely time living in a country that hasn’t reported any COVID-19 deaths since September last year. He says he’s been attending motorsport races and pursuing an interest in neuroscience, all while Valve employees back in the US have been stuck at home for months on end. Unsurprisingly, although Newell recently denied reports that Valve is actively planning to set up an office in the country, he says there’s been “strong interest” from the company’s employees to relocate.
“There’s a lot of interest at a grass roots level inside of the company to have some people move,” Newell says, adding that New Zealand’s public health infrastructure is now “critically valuable” for a company in the age of a pandemic.
“It’s as if there’s a new element that’s been discovered called ‘not-stupidium’, and New Zealand is one of the world’s producers of it — it’s actually something that’s been built by the people of New Zealand,” Newell says, “It’s absolutely, insanely valuable — like, any high-tech company would say our people are going to be a lot more productive in New Zealand than they are going to be in Ireland or Los Angeles or lots of other places.”
Inevitably, the interview touches on future games for Valve’s Half-Life and Portal franchises. Although Newell declined to offer exact details (“I’ve successfully not spoken about those things for a long time and I hope to continue to not talk about them until they are moot questions.”), he did confirm that the company has games in development. “It’s fun to ship games,” he said.
It might not be much, but it’s reassuring that a studio with such an enviable back catalog of titles still has plans to release more games in the future — not least because Valve acquired Firewatch developer Campo Santo in 2018, after it teased its impressive-looking follow-up, In the Valley of Gods. Last year, Valve made its long-awaited return to single-player games with the excellent VR-exclusive Half-Life: Alyx, with some employees reporting that its development had got the studio’s “excitement and creative juices flowing” to release more games.