Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

valves big surprises

People keep mentioning the UK PC Gamer article on Valve, where they say they have 3 big surprises coming up in the next year or so which will really freak people out.

It amazes me how mediocre peoples guesses have been, as to what the surprises will be. Some suggested Left For Dead 3 or Half Life 3. That would surprise you? Really? You think that is radical thinking outside the box? c’mon.

Here are some things valve could do, that really are surprises.

1) They could convert steam to a subscription model. All current steam games free, to all subscribers. Subscription is $20 a month, a revenue split is worked out with the developers.

2) They could launch a TV or Movie based venture.  Maybe an online streamed TV station based on gaming. They aim to become the #1 global media source for games news.

3) They could strike a deal where steam is integrated into the service pack for windows 7. Steam becomes the new games explorer, installed on every windows PC.

If I was Gabe, I’d be considering all those options, and lots more. Decisions such as ‘what game to make next’ are pretty small fry in terms of the big strategic picture in which valve are now a big part. They took all their Half Life 1 money and spent it to make steam. I expect them to take all the steam money to do another big thing. I’d still like to be surprised though*

*although anything that reduces the open nature of the PC platform would not be a pleasant surprise, for small little indies like me.

It’s good to have big, long term, strategic goals. If positech ever makes £10 million, I’m going to build a BIG wind turbine somewhere.


13 thoughts on valves big surprises

  1. All excellent ideas. It could also be to do with Social Gaming. OR Console gaming, but they’d have to get in bed with M$, Sony and Nintendo for that, so not sure how it would work. Or a web-game portals, but there’s so many of them, and it’s hardly new. Or maybe they are going to sue every pirate of their games, or give all their money to Pakistan, or turn every American into a zombie via their new secret formula they’ve been manufacturing in their underground secure lab.

  2. Wow, in so many ways am I opposed to number one. You could definitely count on me not subscribing to a subscription model, and being more then a bit miffed about losing access to the games I already bought. Unless of course you are referring to running a subscription model in parallel with their existing business model? (you can buy the games you want to own and rent the rest?)

    Then again in the Steam Liscence Agreement theres probably a clause that says that Valve can change the way steam works like that and cut me out…

    Anyway I hope it’s not the first.

    A suprise I would appreciate would be if Vavle revisited their opinion on bringing steam to Linux, since tehy had announced that they were not going to do that.

    Or another suprise would be if they would improve the performance of the source engines again so that my laptop which used to be able to play TF2 could play it again. Because over time the updates have rendered it unplayable on my machine. <- seriously I cant play TF2 at all anymore and can barley play HL2 which used to be easy for my laptop… :(

  3. I like #1 but indeed I think it might be things like “which new game is coming out” because frankly as you said it seems that’s where people’s imagination lies so why try harder.

    Can’t remember the last time someone announced “they’d have something big to announce” that really turned out as something “big” …

  4. They could announce an MMOG of some kind! Not an MMORPG, more likely first-person or third-person shooter, maybe with real-time strategy elements. Think world-wide gaming arena resolved in lots of little one-off matches. Not really revolutionary but MMOGs are still struggling to get traction in the non-MMORPG genres.

  5. Face it, it’s gonna be half life 3…

    (Number 1 won’t work, there’s no way on earth that all the publishers would agree to some sort of revenue split)

    My 3 real surprises.

    1. They are changing their name from Valve to Stopcock
    2. Gabe is going on a diet
    3. Dr Freeman is really the Stig. (hence the muteness)

  6. I’m not sure #1 would be that pleasant, both for players and for Valve.
    I for one don’t spend 20€ a month in *new* games, and I know no people that do (MMO subscriptions are another matter entirely), I’m not sure Steam would generate more money than it does atm.

  7. #3 is not going to happen, microsoft will keep their games for windows live crap stuff going. they didn’t *invent* steam, so they won’t use it.

    but apple could.

  8. What about the steam powered browser, they integrate with or release a browser/app that will allow players to try games online, allowing micropaymenents, platform diversification, subscription arcade style (pay for your gameing time) and rental of games.

    Think of an onlive style technology platform agnostic, cloud based gaming.

  9. Well, you might be close with a couple of those ideas.

    I’ve seen it on several news sites that Gabe has mentioned wanting to do a Halflife movie “in house”. So doing at least an animated HL movie might be a possibility.

    I remember back several years ago reading that Gabe also looked at the player minutes that were played via steam’s stats and then did a comparison to a small TV channel in the states in terms of eyeballs. So one potential is that theyre going to release a free-to-play game(s) and use ad revenue to support it. But thats nothing particularly new or ground breaking.

    I do wonder if some sort of strategic partnership might be the thing though, thinking of Gabe’s MS background I wonder if maybe he’s wary of the potential to be screwed by your partnership though.

    Either way, I dont think its often we get anything really surprising, which is kind of sad.

    Ohhh! One thing that might be super-funky is that they make Steam totally open and go to a ranking system, reduce the %age they take to 10% say. That would be pretty interesting news.

  10. From those three surprises you mentionned only one sounds like Valve and that would be the steam integration into every windows machine, but that isn’t in accordance to Microsoft policy since they tend to keep all the money to themselves (XBLA, that GFWL crap etc).
    The other two (especially the 20$ subscription) are just plain irreal. Valve wouldn’t ever change to subscription based model for the entire steam unless it was an option, apart from that I seriously doubt they would do such thing. and as far as the games TV goes they might connect some already existent channels but nothing more.
    As for what I believe will happen is the anouncement of Episode 3. If you’ve been following valve news on it (no news at all for almost 3 years) then you realise it would be an enormous surprise to finally hear from them.
    Second one would be the announcement of a DOTA related title. Valve hired the DOTA crew some months ago and registered the DOTA name. It would be kind of a big announcement since it would be the first non FPS title they made (not counting Alien Swarm, that was non-commercial)
    Third one would be either Portal 2 related (like being able toplay coop with a Portal 1 owner) or Steam on PS3 release (I doubt they would release steam on linux since they said that they’re not really looking into it right now).

    That’s all I can think of, but probably they’ll think of something almost noone thought of (just like with the release of L4D2, that came out of nowhere while we’ve been still waiting for any Ep3 news).

  11. I think Spliter has it the closest.

    In a recent interview with Gametrailers, it was revealed that Steam is coming to
    the PS3 for one of their upcoming games. There was also details on Portal 2, which will have co-op play with some puzzles requiring 4 people to solve.

    As far as subscription goes, a potential excuse to implement one is that Steam is also in a great position to be able to offer game rentals. I don’t know if they’ll ever go this route, since Steam is already offering such wonderfully cheap sales prices on games and there is already the option of having demos through steam. They’d have a hard time coming up with a rate that appeals to the publishers while also being able to compete against the sale of games.

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