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Old 04-13-2011, 10:36 AM   #1
Chimpbot
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Has Steam's Success Helped to Create "Valve Time"?

There's no questioning Valve's dominance in the PC gaming digital distribution space; Steam reigns supreme. Does this success come at the cost of slowing down Valve's game development? Brad Wardell, head honcho over at Stardock, certainly feels this may be the case.

Nearly two weeks ago, it was announced that Stardock was selling off Impulse to retail giant Gamestop; one of the primary reasons Wardell cited was the shift of focus from game development to storefront management.

Quote:
Yeah, we could have become a retailer and tried to compete in that space long-term, but there were two possibilities. One is that we'd lose out and become a permanent minor player – Impulse relative to Steam today I would argue is a minor player. Or two, we'd be successful and we're basically just a 600-person retail digital distribution company where three-quarters of the staff are sales people and account managers. And when the winning scenario is not what your objective in life is, then it's time to re-evaluate what you want to do.
Despite their difference in size, Wardell feels Stardock and Valve are ultimately quite similar...and speculates Valve may be running into a similar problem.

Quote:
Even though Valve is in Seattle, where you can get developers everywhere, [Steam's] had an effect on their own development schedule. There's not been a new Half-Life in a long time; a lot of people have complained about that. They've had their own challenges getting new titles out the door, and a big part of that I'm sure is the same problems we've had. When one of your groups is so ridiculously profitable, every business instinct you have is to throw all your best people at it, because that's what's making the money. That's just sound business. At the end of the day, again you have decide if that's what you want to do.
Ultimately, Wardell's assertion is simple; running Steam as the powerhouse storefront it's become is taxing all other areas of Valve...which may not be entirely true.

Steam launched in 2002, primarily as a updater/patching platform for Valve's games. It wasn't until three years later that third-party titles began finding their way into Steam. Prior to Steam as an online store, Valve had four major releases: Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Team Fortress Classic and Counter-strike, the latter two being mods. Along with those were a slew of expansion packs. Post-2005, however, has brought us Half Life 2: Episodes 1 & 2, Left 4 Dead 1 & 2, Portal 1 & 2, Team Fortress 2 and the free release Alien Swarm. In addition to those, Valve has cranked out massive amounts of free extra content for the Left 4 Dead games and Team Fortress 2. They also currently have DotA2 in development, as well.

Has Valve slowed down? Is Steam one of the primary reasons for "Valve Time"? Based off of a cursory glance at Valve's release schedule over the past decade...I, for one, would have to respectfully disagree.

Source: Industry Gamers.

Wardell does bring up an interesting point, though; most developers don't enter the business with designs to become an online retailer as well. I doubt it was part of Valve's initial plans...but it certainly appears like they've grasped the concept better than Stardock could.
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:42 AM   #2
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:45 AM   #3
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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Valve has produced a superior product from day one, regardless of what that product was. I seriously doubt that they can't figure out how to hire new people to run the storefront while keeping the development moving forward.


Oh my god... I think I'm a valve fanboy.
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:55 AM   #5
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ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:59 AM   #6
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I think people don't look at their development cycle correctly. After "The Orange Box" it became obvious that their "product" was Portal 2, not Half-Life 2: Episode 3 and they put all their development muscle behind that franchise instead of Counter-Strike or Half-Life.

I'm sure they will return to those other products eventually, but I don't think it is Steam that is keeping those products from getting updated... it is Portal 2.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:01 AM   #7
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And when the winning scenario is not what your objective in life is, then it's time to re-evaluate what you want to do.
An incredibly accurate statement. Some companies can morph their mission statement midstream and succeed, most can not.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:02 AM   #8
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I think it's worth noting how many of those post-2005 titles were largely purchased. That is, "Valve" didn't really churn those out. They saw some great things from great people, hired them and grew so they could churn those out.

Again, I don't know how much of pre-existing Valve was involved on any of those titles. I just don't think that data is clear-cut evidence against Wardell's assertion that Steam is siphoning time and energy away from other development projects. It's, at the least, grey enough that only Valve can really know.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:06 AM   #9
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Nah Valve is still amazing! Look at all those amazing hats and Portal 2 videos they have been producing over the years as well as various marketing tools for other games! Oh and don't forget the amazing L4D campaigns they have added, not to mention L4D2 which was not a let down at all! I HEART VALVE!!!!!

/sarcasm

Wait, no... Fuck you Valve. Sure you have the greatest digital distribution platform of all time but we only ever cared about you because of THE GAMES THAT YOU STOPPED MAKING.

Now release Episode 3 so I can refuse to buy it.


The saddest part of this all is that Portal was not even their own god damn concept yet everyone tosses Gabes salad at the mention of it.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:10 AM   #10
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Valve is slowly transitioning into a digital hat design company.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:15 AM   #11
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The saddest part of this all is that Portal was not even their own god damn concept yet everyone tosses Gabes salad at the mention of it.
You are a PC only gamer and you don't like Gabe? Whoa!
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:16 AM   #12
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Also...

lol why a salad? Are you making another fat joke?
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:21 AM   #13
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This sounds exactly like what I hear every time a company diversifies and fails.

"We want to focus on our core business."

Or as Cisco put it yesterday when they dropped the Flip video cameras:
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Originally Posted by John Chambers, Cisco chairman and CEO
We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy...
It doesn't mean game development and digital distribution can't be done simultaneously, it just means Impulse can't compete with Steam.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agnostic Pope View Post
Also...

lol why a salad? Are you making another fat joke?
He wasn't exactly talking about salad...

Go ask your mother. Daddy's busy right now.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:35 AM   #15
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I think it's worth noting how many of those post-2005 titles were largely purchased. That is, "Valve" didn't really churn those out. They saw some great things from great people, hired them and grew so they could churn those out.

Again, I don't know how much of pre-existing Valve was involved on any of those titles. I just don't think that data is clear-cut evidence against Wardell's assertion that Steam is siphoning time and energy away from other development projects. It's, at the least, grey enough that only Valve can really know.
While the "original" Valve teams may not have "churned those out", they effectively did what Stardock failed to do; they expanded their teams appropriately in order to both continue developing games and their digital storefront.

They needed more hands to make games, so they hired more hands to make those games. It doesn't discount the fact that their release schedules haven't actually slowed down in the least since Steam became a success. If anything, it's a shining example of how Valve is able to succeed where Stardock apparently failed.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:49 AM   #16
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I just recently (2010) stepped over to the use of Steam over store-bought games... I must say that Valve did something right with it. Most online game stores use credit cards and such. These things are not as common in Europe as one might think....

Steam implemented IDeal, which allows me to safely and simpely use my bank account to buy games. This I found a very good point.... also, my bank account is nearly empty for some reason, (har har)

I've been playing the Orange box once again for the last couple of days. I want to be ready when Portal 2 comes out. I was surprised to discover that HL2,ep1,ep2 still have value. There is excellent storytelling and such. I still feel suspense even though I've played the game a dozen times.

I also own L4D1&2 and play them frequently....

So... after portal 2 I have only one request...

Please,please,please,please! Release Episode 3 so I can buy it on day one.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:27 PM   #17
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This comes across as petty, and adds fuel to my decision to not use Stardock where possible. Plus, now that they've sold out to Gamestop, I am not allowed enough sodium in my diet to make these kind of statements palatable.

Valve hasn't lost anything, I don't think that anyone gets the sense that they've lost their direction, and if you ask me, they have done more to validate the PC platform more than any other company out there today (certainly, as Nvidia focuses more on the mobile world, they could probably care less about the PC market). I'm curious to see how that will all play out now that they've breached the console world with their Steam product.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:37 PM   #18
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so they hired more hands to make those games... it's a shining example of how Valve is able to succeed where Stardock apparently failed.
What I took issue with, was the editorial comment that suggested Valve's resources weren't going more and more toward the storefront in the way Wardell claimed Stardock's were. All I was saying is: "that's not entirely clear from their release list".

Whether Valve is handling a hypothetical growth of resource/focus on the storefront better that Stardock, is beside my point.
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Old 04-13-2011, 01:29 PM   #19
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he's right, i personally haven't bought a valve game since the retail episode 1 of half life 2.

they haven't developed anything of merit (well, anything that i would buy anyway) since then.
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Old 04-13-2011, 01:31 PM   #20
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Unfortunately Stardock has not made a good game since Galactic Civilizations II.

Wardell needs to shut the fuck up and get his own house in order. The guy can't even stick to his own Gamer's Bill of Rights with their ultra buggy releases. Shame on you I say, shame!
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