Gabe Newell: Valve Would "Disintegrate" Under New Ownership

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Gabe Newell: Valve Would "Disintegrate" Under New Ownership

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Gabe Newell believes that Valve is too independently-minded to survive being owned by another publisher.

Valve is a bit of an oddity within the mainstream games industry. Where most developers require publisher support to make Valve-quality games, likely losing their IP rights in the process, Valve's private ownership and resources allowed it to sidestep the usual publishing chain entirely through Steam, its own content delivery system. That's not to say the prospect hasn't come up; rumors of prospective buyers have always circled the company, including, according to a source for the New York Times, publishing giant Electronic Arts. Valve President Gabe Newell responded definitively to such rumors by stating that a publisher-owned Valve is not only incredibly unlikely, but that staff would rather quit than remain employed with a restructured organization.

In an interview, Newell stated that Valve employees are so independently-minded that the company would probably "disintegrate" if the ownership changed. "It's way more likely we would head in that direction than say, 'Let's find some giant company that wants to cash us out and wait two or three years to have our employment agreements terminate," Newell said.

The comment is relatively minor within the context of the interview, but it's a strong statement about the way Valve operates. The company has already been recognized for its bossless culture that operates outside of formal or rigid corporate structures. Newell's comments imply that Valve doesn't just consider its corporate freedoms to be a perk or a privilege, but an ideal that staff would risk unemployment to preserve. Newell may not be directly speaking for all of Valve's employees to be fair, but given the enthusiastic support other staff members have shared about the company, he may not be far from the mark.

Source: New York Times

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I don't think he even really needed to say it. We all know how an EA buyout would go down... D:

Good thing they stand by their convictions.

Valve? Owned by EA?
*Shudders*

Holy crap I haven't seen a modern picture of Gabe. He looks like a lumber jack.

This was the only pic I've ever seen of him

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A god among men. Alpha male rating 9001

'Valve quality' games? *raises eyebrow*
Not the most impartial article I've ever read.

Regardless, it would remain to be seen just how idealistic they are if and when the time actually comes. Talk is cheap, etc.

Another gaming journalist website not quite getting what the article says.

Mr. Newell said that there was a better chance that Valve would "disintegrate," its independent-minded workers scattering, than that it would ever be sold.

Gabe is not saying that the company would crumble if it was under new ownership, he's saying that it's unlikely, and it's more likely everyone would leave to do their own things before that happens.

Still the Escapist is at least more right than r/gaming was originally.

Honestly, I see the real news here as this bit.

A few years ago, a Valve hire who had worked in special effects in Hollywood balked at wheeling his desk. The news reached Mr. Newell, who promptly picked up the desk himself and carried it to the new location, to the new employee's embarrassment.

The man, whom Valve declined to name, is no longer with the company.

Confirmed that Gabe is awesome.

Calumon: He didn't want to push something on wheels? :S

Mr Cwtchy:
'Valve quality' games? *raises eyebrow*
Not the most impartial article I've ever read.

Well, to be fair, it has to be pretty much universally admitted that Valve is a unique workplace environment. Plus, the article doesn't say the games are better, just "valve" quality. Unique traits and all that.

If Valve gets bought out there is little hope for a reNewell of creativity in gaming.

After this announcement, Gabe made his feelings about a possible EA merger known by eating the EA delegate that was sent.
I'm sorry, I had to, I'm a terrible person. And remember kids, a fat joke a day keeps Half Life 3 away.

it would either disintergrate, or annoy the everliving fuck out of the new owner.

actually, I'd like to see that. ^^

The Rookie Gamer:
After this announcement, Gabe made his feelings about a possible EA merger known by eating the EA delegate that was sent.
I'm sorry, I had to, I'm a terrible person. And remember kids, a fat joke a day keeps Half Life 3 away.

I'm sure GabeN will make exceptions if the fat joke takes a shot at EA.

Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world game.

Out of curiosity, who is slated to take over Valve when Newell retires? It is possible that whoever takes over could negatively affect the company causing dissension and many employees leaving if the person in question isn't that popular regardless of qualifications.

Some day I want to hi-five this man.
He has principals that go beyond the logic of a man out for himself.
This is what draws people towards him and that's why he will end up on top.

Ed130:
Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world game.

Props for a great paraphrase.

Though it sounds to be Gabe is more interested in having an environment he likes then money, there is no-way he is short of coin of course, but he could be very very very wealthy if we so chose, we're talking private trips to space wealthy.

The world needs more Gabes.

kiri2tsubasa:
Out of curiosity, who is slated to take over Valve when Newell retires? It is possible that whoever takes over could negatively affect the company causing dissension and many employees leaving if the person in question isn't that popular regardless of qualifications.

Since the company is privately held, I imagine it's whoever is in his will, and absent him making that information public there is no-way to know.

Is there a comparison in another industry where there's this kind of difference in corporate structure?

Is it like John Lewis vs. British Home Stores?

Seems like Valve is basically a co-op video game company, while EA is more traditionally structured.

EA does seem to kick out an awful lot more games than valve, but I don't know how much bigger it is.

PRODUCTIVITY ANALYSIS REQUIRED

Games/Employee//Year!

GO!

EA Employees: 7,645

Valve Employees: 293

EA games/year = 984/30 = 32.8
Valve games/year = 29/16 = 1.8125

(Games were simply counted off the wikipedia lists, so include expansion packs and yearly released games and such)

7,645/32.8 = ~233
2.93/1.8125 = ~2

Sorry Valve, you're just renowned for being really, really unproductive.

Danny Ocean:
Is there a comparison in another industry where there's this kind of difference in corporate structure?

Is it like John Lewis vs. British Home Stores?

Seems like Valve is basically a co-op video game company, while EA is more traditionally structured.

EA does seem to kick out an awful lot more games than valve, but I don't know how much bigger it is.

PRODUCTIVITY ANALYSIS REQUIRED

Games/Employee//Year!

GO!

EA Employees: 7,645

Valve Employees: 293

EA games/year = 984/30 = 32.8
Valve games/year = 29/16 = 1.8125

(Games were simply counted off the wikipedia lists, so include expansion packs and yearly released games and such)

7,645/32.8 = ~233
2.93/1.8125 = ~2

Sorry Valve, you're just renowned for being really, really unproductive.

Percentage of EA games that were shit or Madden: 54.78%
Percentage of Valve games that were shit: 0.00%

Danny Ocean:
Is there a comparison in another industry where there's this kind of difference in corporate structure?

Is it like John Lewis vs. British Home Stores?

Seems like Valve is basically a co-op video game company, while EA is more traditionally structured.

EA does seem to kick out an awful lot more games than valve, but I don't know how much bigger it is.

PRODUCTIVITY ANALYSIS REQUIRED

Games/Employee//Year!

GO!

EA Employees: 7,645

Valve Employees: 293

EA games/year = 984/30 = 32.8
Valve games/year = 29/16 = 1.8125

(Games were simply counted off the wikipedia lists, so include expansion packs and yearly released games and such)

7,645/32.8 = ~233
2.93/1.8125 = ~2

Sorry Valve, you're just renowned for being really, really unproductive.

You have a bit of a numbers error there,sir. If you had done that correctly, you would have gotten 161.65, which is MUCH more respectable.

Also I believe your ratios are messed up. What you calculated here is employees/games/year if I'm looking at it right. To correct this, invert that ratio there. Divide the games/year by the number of employees. So you'd get something like:

For EA: 32.8/7645= 0.00429 games/employee/year
For Valve: 1.8125/293= 0.006186 games/employee/year

Which I think you'll notice that this makes Valve about 30% MORE efficient than EA, by your logic anyway. And you know what? This kind of makes sense. EA has MUCH more overhead of people that don't actually make any games than Valve does.

You're also implicitely making assumptions which I don't think are valid. For instance you're assuming that the rate of game release is a constant over their lifespan and also that their employee numbers are a constant. For EA especially I don't think that this holds. If you REALLY wanted to be accurate with this, you'd have to get more data and do some like integration and shit lol.

lotr rocks 0:

You have a bit of a numbers error there,sir. If you had done that correctly, you would have gotten 161.65, which is MUCH more respectable.

Also I believe your ratios are messed up. What you calculated here is employees/games/year if I'm looking at it right, and you're also implicitely making assumptions which I don't think are valid. For instance you're assuming that the rate of game release is a constant over their lifespan and also that their employee numbers are a constant. For EA especially I don't think that this holds. If you REALLY wanted to be accurate with this, you'd have to get more data and do some like integration and shit lol.

Valve really have only made 29 games. Here's the list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_developed_by_Valve

Yeah I know it's not terribly accurate and really I should put in metacritic scores for each game and weigh games etc.. etc.. by that but that's terribly time consuming and I've got to get ready for Fresher's week.. If someone else wants to feel free. I'm sure it'd be a very interesting industry analysis.

Point is: There's some truth in Valve Time. =P

Danny Ocean:

PRODUCTIVITY ANALYSIS REQUIRED

Games/Employee//Year!

GO!

EA Employees: 7,645

Valve Employees: 293

EA games/year = 984/30 = 32.8
Valve games/year = 29/16 = 1.8125

(Games were simply counted off the wikipedia lists, so include expansion packs and yearly released games and such)

7,645/32.8 = ~233
2.93/1.8125 = ~2

Sorry Valve, you're just renowned for being really, really unproductive.

I think your analysis is simplistic.

Not counting for quality (I mean like...really), are you counting published EA games versus created games?

You also need account for fixed overhead such as HR, finance, etc.

Then I'd suggest you contemplate coming up with a way to account for resources devoted to game development versus resources devoted to other areas...for example Steam (and Origin). Those services don't code and support themselves.

Finally, I'd suggest you come up with a method to scale your numbers based on games per year/development population.

Just my 2 cents.

I think the net/net would be EA produces more games than Valve, but I would be the numbers would be closer.

Danny Ocean:

lotr rocks 0:

You have a bit of a numbers error there,sir. If you had done that correctly, you would have gotten 161.65, which is MUCH more respectable.

Also I believe your ratios are messed up. What you calculated here is employees/games/year if I'm looking at it right, and you're also implicitely making assumptions which I don't think are valid. For instance you're assuming that the rate of game release is a constant over their lifespan and also that their employee numbers are a constant. For EA especially I don't think that this holds. If you REALLY wanted to be accurate with this, you'd have to get more data and do some like integration and shit lol.

Yeah I know but that's terribly boring.

I just wanted to allude to Valve Time.

Deliberately (or not) using incorrect math to prove a point is a dangerous game, sir. Especially if the correct math actually refutes your hypothesis completely, which I believe this does, see my edit above.

lotr rocks 0:

Deliberately (or not) using incorrect math to prove a point is a dangerous game, sir.

Only if anyone actually cares. I'm surprised so many do. Cheers for fixing it though. I'm going to get back to packing.

Oh my gods, how have we not seen the signs?

The end times are upon us, ladies and gentlemen.

Any analysis of Valve's productivity should account for the fact they now do their own marketing in-house. Also, Steam is their golden goose that needs tending as well. (Yeah, EA has Origin but they only have to worry about one publisher's games on that thing.)

Danny Ocean:

lotr rocks 0:

Deliberately (or not) using incorrect math to prove a point is a dangerous game, sir.

Only if anyone actually cares. I'm surprised so many do. Cheers for fixing it though. I'm going to get back to packing.

I'm sorry if I'm being too anal about this, but being a scientist/ engineer (in training), in my field, using incorrect math means your chemical plant explodes, which is never good for anyone. So we have to make sure what we're calculating is actually what we want it to be :P

Valve: entirely staffed by hipsters who would rather quit then work for 'the man'.

Of wait, I'm supposed to mindless drone on about how great they are because I'm on the escapist and they're the golden child um, ugh... nope, I got nothing.

What I still don't understand is what a "bossless culture" actually is. Does the company really not have a management structure, or is the idea just that managers don't try to boss around the people they manage?

I dont even see Valve as a game company, they are just a company that run Steam. They have done fuck all in the last few years and live off that one game series Half Life, and even then that only lasted 2 games. I dont count the episodes as they canned ep3....talk about screwing over fans who bought ep 1 and ep2 - thanks for that Valve for not finishing that story.

So EA buys them? Who cares. If these companies were producing good games then EA would never close those companies. People blame EA, but those companies didn't have to accept the buyout and could have remained independent. But they didn't.

Fuckin' hooray for Gaben Claus. Truly, we are gifted with his holy presence.
Now where the fuck is Source 2.0?

Valve haters can say all they want about them.
But they never released a game that wasn't, in my opinion, atleast great.
While EA spends his time killing the industry slowly.

You might call me a mindless drone, but out of all videogame companies around, Valve is the most respectable and innofensive one.

MetalMagpie:
What I still don't understand is what a "bossless culture" actually is. Does the company really not have a management structure, or is the idea just that managers don't try to boss around the people they manage?

According to the Valve Employee Handbook (pdf) and what people who worked/works there said, it really is bossless. Not even Gabe Newell says what people should do. Of course they're aware that this is quite unique and not everyone is well equipped to work in such an environment, but it seems to work for them.

SonOfVoorhees:
They have done fuck all in the last few years and live off that one game series Half Life, and even then that only lasted 2 games.

I'm not sure what your definition of "the last few years" is, but let's say you mean 2008 for the sake of having a number to work with. Here's what they've released in that time.

  • A million TF2 updates
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Alien Swarm
  • Portal 2
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Source Filmmaker

That's five new games and a machinima tool in four years (soon to be six games, with the coming release of Dota 2). Not to mention, most of those games received quite a few free updates, and many of them are still getting 'em. That's not bad, considering how much smaller they are than the EAs and the Activisions, considering the consistant quality of their output (pretty much all better than the annual CoD and Madden updates), and considering that they DON'T HAVE CRUNCH TIME AND ONLY HAVE VERY LIMITED OVERTIME.

But if you want, you can keep pretending they aren't doing anything.

P.S. Thanks

Dear gabe, please take better care of yourself. I wake up each day afraid I'll read a story like this. "Game messiah Gabe Newell was found dead today a top his money pile."

Their 'bossless' way of doing things kind of reminds me of catalonia during the spanish civil war from what I hear.

They should do great unless they get killed by marxists.

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