Gabe Newell is arguably one of the most important people in the games industry right now. He's the co-founder and managing director of Valve Corporation, a company which has created some amazing titles and is behind Steam — a popular digital distribution platform which many predict will become Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft's biggest rival in coming years.
The comment has clearly pleased someone at Nintendo of America, as it has been leapt on by the company's official Twitter account:
However, this isn't the first time that Newell has voiced this very same opinion. Speaking with Computer & Video Games back in 2011, he said that Mario 64 was:
Still my favourite game of all time. I still have vivid memories of all the different levels. The control is still pretty much unrivalled. It convinced me that games were art.
Newell's love of Mario hasn't thus far resulted in his company giving Nintendo any development love, but he did say back in 2011 that the Wii U was a "better fit" for Valve's "scalability model".