It is my belief that no one be immune to criticism and mockery. Not even Shigeru Miyamoto.
Our hardcore friends, who dwell for hours each day in places called ‘Gaming Message Forums’, tend to act like a school of fish. When some go one way, they ALL go. There is very little critical opinion or analysis within the Gaming Message Forums. Hardcore gamers love the behavior of the school of fish. They love to hype together, and they love to hate together. Saying anything contrary to this school of thought is hazardous if you are a game journalist whether it is right or wrong.
Despite that, I’ve always been mystified by the Hardcore’s love affair with the Valve Corporation (and that is its name. It has corporation in its name. It is not Valve but Valve Corporation). When it comes to the Valve Corporation, I feel as if I am presented with a pinata. Everything about Valve Corporation would be so easy to rip to shreds and to mock. But I haven’t done so yet because I don’t think the audience of this site or gamers, in general, would be mature enough to handle it. I got so much grief from mocking Miyamoto (who was long due to be mocked after being presented as a saint or gaming’s prometheus for so long). Everyone deserves to be mocked. Everyone. No sacred cows.
Let me give you a taste at where the entire apple pie would go. The Valve Corporation is one of the most unethical companies in the Game Industry. Why? Valve Corporation is not interested in making games but in leveraging gamers to create games and content for the Valve Corporation to exploit.
When was the last game the Valve Corporation made? They made ‘episodes’ which didn’t really sell that much considering the acclaim Half-Life 2 had. And there still is no Episode 3. The “games” the Valve Corporation has made consists of hiring gamers with budding game development talent. What’s wrong with that? These gamers are getting the short end of the stick. Instead of making their own company and becoming fabulously wealthy like Notch and Minecraft, these unfortunate gamers-turned-developers are being leveraged to bring their dreams to fruition for the Valve Corporation. In other words, the Valve Corporation is preying on these gamers/developers’ lack of financial education.
You might think that sounds crazy. But listen to what Gabe says:
“Everything we are doing is not going to matter in the future. … We think about knitting together a platform for productivity, which sounds kind of weird, but what we are interested in is bringing together a platform where people’s actions create value for other people when they play. That’s the reason we hired an economist.”
In other words, he wants to leverage gamers’ actions to create value for other gamers. But that’s not the job for the consumer to create value for other consumers. It is the job of the business to do that. This is User Generated Content run amok. But Gabe is careful to call User Generated Content anything but User Generated Content.
“We think the future is very different [from] successes we’ve had in the past. When you are playing a game, you are trying to think about creating value for other players, so the line between content player and creator is really fuzzy. We have a kid in Kansas making $150,000 a year making [virtual] hats. But that’s just a starting point.
It is debatable to argue whether or not a game company’s content is good or bad. But it is crossing an ethical line for a game company to focus on exploiting gamers to make the content for them. We’re the fucking customer. You make content for us, not the other way around. The Valve Corporation is more interested in making platforms where they profit from leveraging gamers to create content from other gamers. Why not teach these gamers how to form their own game company where they can control their financial destiny? But financial education will never come from Gabe because that ruins the leverage.
“That causes us to have conversations with Adobe, and we say the next version of Photoshop should look like a free-to-play game, and they say, ‘We have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, but it sounds really bad.’ And, then we say, ‘No, no, no. We think you are going to increase the value being created to your users, and you will create a market for their goods on a worldwide basis.’ But that takes a longer sell.
“This isn’t about videogames; it’s about thinking about goods and services in a digital world.”
But it IS about video games. Everything about video games revolves around… the games. This has not changed in forty years and will not change in the next forty.
Gabe is admitting the Valve Corporation is not interested in being a video game company. Why is he even talking to Adobe? He wants Adobe to give their product away for free! “Why?” you ask. It is to grease the skids on his User Generated Content scam. People having to pay for Adobe photoshop is an obstacle in the Valve Corporation’s plans of exploiting gamers.
“We are looking at the platform and saying, ‘We’ve been a free rider, and we’ve been able to benefit from everything that went into PCs and the Internet, and we have to continue to figure out how there will be open platforms.’”
Game companies don’t care about this. Platform companies do. Gabe is admitting that Valve Corporation is not a video game company but interested in making platforms.
And why isn’t the Valve Corporation a public company? Gabe doesn’t want to be accountable to shareholders or to have information public about the company. Why not? Bringing a company public can make you a TON of money. Why is he not interested in this?
Valve Corporation is like an overripe melon ready to be ripped by the snarling jaws of the mockery monster. Maybe one day, I’ll get to this.
Thank god Notch is showing everyone that you don’t need to be on Steam to be successful in indie PC gaming. Notch increased his financial knowledge, created his own company structure, and has reaped the rewards of his game. Why would anyone allow the Valve Corporation to take 30% off your product when it is purchased? It makes sense on something like an Apple or Nintendo platform because they have considerable risk and investment in the hardware. But the Valve Corporation is taking off 30% from titles on an OPEN PLATFORM. Not sure how anyone can defend the Valve Corporation with this. Hell, the Valve Corporation can’t even be called a game company as they don’t make games anymore. Gabe, himself, says the Valve Corporation is interested in customers making content for other customers, not the company making content for customers.
I’m very curious about Valve Corporation’s marketing practices. Only gushing praise is emitted whenever the subject concerning Valve Corporation appears on the Gaming Message Forum. It reminds me of the viral marketers that Microsoft uses.