Valve: Let players fund videogame development

Some would say that the games industry would be better for everybody if publishers weren’t around. Similar to how record labels helped kill music and become an unnecessary middle-man between musicians and music fans, so too can publishers feel like they get in the way. Valve’s Gabe Newell, may have found a way around it, but you’ll need to dig deep into your own pocket if you agree.

“One of the areas that I am super interested in right now is how we can do financing from the community,” explains Gabe Newell. “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.”

That’s actually a really interesting idea, and could be useful for smaller projects (I can’t imagine something like BioShock 2 being entirely fan-funded). Of course, it’s getting gamers, who aren’t always flushed with cash, to invest in the first place. Still, if any studio has the loyalty and community to pull it off, it’d be Valve. Anything that reduces publisher influence is worth pursuing.

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James Stephanie Sterling
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