The final few months of 2020 will offer gamers a tough question: Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5? Both Microsoft and Sony are releasing their next-generation consoles before the holiday shopping season. Gabe Newell, co-founder of Half-Life developer Valve, has already made his choice: Microsoft’s Xbox Series X.
Appearing on New Zealand talk show The Project, Newell was asked by a host which console would be better. “The Xbox,” he said emphatically, to a jeer from an audience member. When pressed on whether this preference stems from his years working at Microsoft, he added: “I don’t have a stake in that race. We do most of our development on personal computers, but of the two I would definitely go with an Xbox.”
Newell was a developer at Microsoft for over a decade, during which time he worked on the very first Windows operating system. He was one of the famed “Microsoft Millionaires” — in the ’80s and early ’90s, people making millions of dollars in consumer tech was novel enough for such people to earn a moniker — and used this money to co-found Valve. In addition to creating the vaunted Half-Life franchise, which saw a rare new release in Alyx back in March, Valve also created Steam, which made Newell a billionaire.
Newell has spoken frequently about his distaste for developing games for consoles (rather than PCs), but has previously been particularly hostile towards Sony’s consoles. Criticizing the PlayStation 3’s design architecture in 2007, he called developing for the platform “a waste of time.”
Newell was on The Project to promote a festival he’s bankrolling in New Zealand. He explained that he was vacationing with family in the country when the coronavirus lockdowns started taking effect in March, and they decided back then to stay in the country rather return to the US. “Lets put on a big party, a way of saying thank you for the hospitality and the generosity that we’ve been receiving.”