Valve Software disrupted the traditional retail model with Steam. Now they plan to disrupt the traditional funding model for game development… thanks to you.
Traditionally, most developers secure funding for their projects via publishing deals. And when a publisher controls the finances, they can also control the content.
Speaking to ABC TV’s Good Game, Valve boss Gabe Newell says Valve wants to let the Steam community fund future game development.
“One of the areas that I am super interested in right now is how we can do financing from the community. So right now, what typically happens is you have this budget – it needs to be huge, it has to be $10m – $30m, and it has to be all available at the beginning of the project. There’s a huge amount of risk associated with those dollars and decisions have to be incredibly conservative.
What I think would be much better would be if the community could finance the games. In other words, ‘Hey, I really like this idea you have. I’ll be an early investor in that and, as a result, at a later point I may make a return on that product, but I’ll also get a copy of that game.’
So move financing from something that occurs between a publisher and a developer… Instead have it be something where funding is coming out of community for games and game concepts they really like.”
Crowd-sourcing isn’t new to game development. But typically it’s been confined to input at the design stage.
Newell’s proposal to have fans pay an amount up-front for a game’s development, while also having a say in that development, is something else entirely. Yet it remains very much in line with their policy of dealing directly with the consumer.
What do you think of Newell’s idea? Would you pay money to Valve right now for Half-Life 3 if it meant you were able to give feedback on the concept or design? Or would you rather leave game development to the professionals and keep vocal fans away from design decisions?