So it turns out Valve is one of the few actual "Anarchies" in the world.

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So, were you wondering why Half-Life 3 has been delayed? Well wonder no longer! 'Cause it seems we may have an explanation for Valve's very... Unique approach to video games, timing, etcetera.

Valve is essentially an Anarchy.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/whos-boss-isnt-one-040100888.html

So, I'm not sure about everyone else but this definitely came as a surprise to me. I always just assumed Gabe Newell ran things, yet it looks like the development of Videogames is left entirely up to the devs, with people switching from one project to the next and getting paid solely on how much the rest of the employees feel they contribute to the company.

I have to admit it's fascinating, mostly because... Well... This is one of the few examples of a self-imposed Anarchy and it looks like it's working like a charm... Granted it may also explain why we haven't heard any news of Half-Life 3 in a while.

So what do you think Escapist, do you think more game companies should follow Valve's example, by the looks of it, it bypasses the terrible "RELEASE A NEW GAME EVERY YEAR!" Rut that EA and Activision like to throw onto successful series.

Witty Name Here:
So what do you think Escapist, do you think more game companies should follow Valve's example

Hell no.

This may sound crazy but I don't like waiting years and years for a game to come out.

Whoa... suddenly the spy-cicle makes sense!

Gorilla Gunk:

Hell no.

This may sound crazy but I don't like waiting years and years for a game to come out.

Well technically the release date schedule would most likely be a bit... Schizophrenic rather than long. Plus it avoids the issue of saturation by allowing the devs to try out new IPs and work collectively to make them great.

So far the system's worked for almost every other valve game. I honestly don't think they've released a genuinely "bad" game yet.

Witty Name Here:
So what do you think Escapist, do you think more game companies should follow Valve's example.

It's not a matter of 'should they', but one of 'can they'.

Valve is in a unique position in the industry because of Steam. They can afford to do what they do, because Steam grants them financial security and independence from a publisher (they are in fact a publisher themselves).

Other devs? Not so much. CD Projekt is the only other in a similar situation that I can think of right now.

chimpzy:
It's not a matter of 'should they', but one of 'can they'.

Valve is in a unique position in the industry because of Steam. They can afford to do what they do, because Steam grants them financial security and independence from a publisher (they are in fact a publisher themselves).

This

I feel like it wasn't this unorganized from the get go, despite what they say.
Most developers can't take the same risk that they do, they need to put out games constantly or their company will shut down. Valve has the luxury of Steam providing them a constant source of revenue.
So should other companies function like this? Not all of them, it would be cool if more companies let their developers have more freedom and the games would certainly come out better, but "Valve Time" is annoying to say the least.

Witty Name Here:

Gorilla Gunk:

Hell no.

This may sound crazy but I don't like waiting years and years for a game to come out.

Well technically the release date schedule would most likely be a bit... Schizophrenic rather than long. Plus it avoids the issue of saturation by allowing the devs to try out new IPs and work collectively to make them great.

So far the system's worked for almost every other valve game. I honestly don't think they've released a genuinely "bad" game yet.

I wouldn't call 5 years "schizophrenic."

Probably their best game as of late has been Left 4 Dead 2, which was made in under a year. It may not be a popular opinion around here but I believe short development cycles can breed more creativity then a development cycle lasting 3-6+ years. You don't have time to get each aspect perfect or play-test the fun out of every little thing. You really have to think on your feet, think creatively. When Valve started making L4D2 they just had a bunch of ideas and a deadline and created a game that was not only a vast improvement over it's predecessor but in my opinion was more fun than Valves subsequent release, Portal 2.

Joseph Harrison:
"Valve Time" is annoying to say the least.

Ah yes, Valve Time.

Where your average second has a value between one and infinity.

Having companies adopt "Valve time," much to my pleasure that games would be perfected and polished to a shine before they were published, would be horrible unless all the developers and publishers can coordinate releases with each other so that there will always be a continuous stream of new games being published (only when hell freezes over thanks to EA and Activision).

The only thing that many companies should take away from Valve is that developers know what is best for the games they are working on, and publishing companies should general leave the developers alone.

chimpzy:

Witty Name Here:
So what do you think Escapist, do you think more game companies should follow Valve's example.

It's not a matter of 'should they', but one of 'can they'.

Valve is in a unique position in the industry because of Steam. They can afford to do what they do, because Steam grants them financial security and independence from a publisher (they are in fact a publisher themselves).

Other devs? Not so much. CD Projekt is the only other in a similar situation that I can think of right now.

Bungie is "kinda sorta" in the same scenario. Free from publishers and with a population to form a new country.

Also, trying to get step #7 down....

Valve is privately-owned
Valve takes great care to hire people that can function in their work environment
Valve has a constant source of revenue

You need these things for it to work and I don't think many other places can pull it off

I think the only reason Valve hasn't crashed and burned due to huge stints of just not releasing things is because they have Steam which is an utter force in PC gaming. I admire them for the style of doing business but I would hardly choose it myself. From what I've seen of Bungie I'd say they do it best. They have a very lax environment but everyone still knows what they are working for.

There's a fine line between anarchy and democracy.

Dryk:
Valve is privately-owned
Valve takes great care to hire people that can function in their work environment
Valve has a constant source of revenue

You need these things for it to work and I don't think many other places can pull it off

Basically this.
It takes a very specific type of person to work in this environment, and it's not something anyone can do. Hell, I don't know if I would be able to work in a structure like that.

Valve has better profit per employee than Google I think I read somewhere.

Escapist commented a while back on the leaked Valve employee handbook which covered all this. Seems like an ace way to work tbh and Im very jelly that I dont work their myeslf! :)

The other thing, is that the only people in the industry capable of doing this, Valve employs. They already admitted that they have to miss out on good people, because of the way things work, if multiple people did it, the quality of the people they hire would go down quite a bit.

Also, I really want to know how this works. There are just nitty gritty things that can't work the way they say. I can imagine this for game development, but who do they make sure pays peoples wages, fills in all the tax forms? You can't leave that to luck. And if you want to move building, who makes that call? Who decides its right? Who makes sure all the details are covered? Who hires these people? Who fires them? Who decides when they need more of them?

And since they've got no hiring strategy, they're reliant on constantly being able to afford to support more people. And they can't consolidate resources or focus on long term goals.

Valve can do it, and Valve should do it and continue to produce awesome games, but there's almost no other company out there that can afford to do it.

Gorilla Gunk:
When Valve started making L4D2 they just had a bunch of ideas and a deadline

Assuming they had a deadline is a bit of a stretch given they never really have deadlines. I'd say it's far more likely that they were playing L4D long before it was released, had a solid idea of what was going to make it into L4D, and a long list of things they wanted to add for a sequel. It just so happened that it progressed quickly enough to be released a year later. Make no mistake, if Valve thought it needed to be delayed 6-12 months to do it right that's what would have happened.

And I disagree with the idea of yearly releases resulting in more creativity when the reality is that yearly releases don't allow for playing around with vastly different and new IP's, and really only make room for some minor iteration at best. L4D2 definitely fell into the realm of minor iterations, it just so happened that those minor iterations resulted in a vastly different and more enjoyable experience since the small changes were to the fundamental gameplay. It's nice when that happens, but I could probably list a half dozen series with yearly releases which fail at making a game different enough to be worth buying every year, and I'm not sure I'd need to name any sports titles to do it. The fact is, companies are proving every year that year long dev cycles aren't fostering much in the way of creativity.

Personally, while I know most developers can't use Valve's management style, not just because most don't have the financial freedom to take the risk but because it takes a tremendous amount of trust for the owners of a company to let go of the reigns like that and if you don't hire great people you're boned, I wish more could follow their management style. The reality is that there are almost no companies who are as consistently creative and successful as Valve, even when they're making somewhat iterative sequels. And to be honest, while I'm sure the skeleton of their management style was probably forming from early on, I'd bet it was largely in response to HL2 that they made that shift. HL2 took years to develop, was a massive undertaking, and they said themselves that it was hard to keep people interested and prevent burn out while they working on it. They had basically already said they wouldn't spend so many years working straight through on one project again after it came out, and I'd imagine that was around the time the last pieces of their strategy began to fall into place.

Witty Name Here:
Valve is essentially an Anarchy.

Wait, why is this even news to people? I thought it was a rather well known thing.

Anyway, no the model should not be adopted. And it should. What I'm saying is that I think Google has a better approach - give your employees some time to mess with whatever they want but still work regularly the rest of the time. It's rather successful approach - several of the Google products emerged from there. This allows the Valve creativity, with the stricter model people are used to. Sure, deadlines suck hard, but this gives flexibility and some nifty project management can utilise the flexibility to great benefit.

So if they all get a chance to launch new ideas and stuff why arent we seeing more original IPs from them it seems they buy a lot of talent from outside the company when they see someone has a good idea but whats happening to all the new good ideas within the company? are there any?

Have they even released a non FPS yet I suppose you could count portal but didnt they buy that up and help develop it rather than think it up inside and its just an interesting twist on the FPS model. Surely with such an environment they should be producing more original and diverse projects.

Aaaand now I'm seeing gabe in fallout style bandit armour.

Honestly, this makes me if anything, more confused about the lack of a half life 3. These are probably people who really care about half life, I would've thought they'd really want to finish the saga.

I wouldn't call it anarchy, it seems to be more of an adhocracy - people group together to do things that the company needs as a whole, and tend to arrive at conclusions on what the company needs to do by some form of vote/meeting.

It'd be great if more companies could do this, but unfortunately Valve is a relatively unique case, as they get all the income from Steam & have no shareholders to appease. It's interesting seeing a large company emulate how a smaller company works, and it seems to have done Valve very well so far.

Even though this method of business increases the time it takes for Valve to release things it creates a higher quality of games in the long run. Instead of a small number of people deciding on the final product it becomes a huge collaboration of effort an perfectionism towards the individual components. We need Valve quality games among the large volume of shovelware yearly releases that some developers have the nerve of calling good games.

Not anarchy. Communism.

I like the idea of a more fluid development structure, and the pay system, but they'd still need someone directing the flow. The problem with EA and Activision isn't the set-up so much as it's the fact that they are run by people who simply don't care about games.

Witty Name Here:

So what do you think Escapist, do you think more game companies should follow Valve's example, by the looks of it, it bypasses the terrible "RELEASE A NEW GAME EVERY YEAR!" Rut that EA and Activision like to throw onto successful series.

true, but valve releases games relatively rare, and they are not really better for it.

Half Life is a very straight FPS with a good story and bad implementation of a silent protagonist.

Counter Strike is a Half Life mod so it's strictly speaking not from valve.

Team fortress the same as with half life

Portal is a funny physics based puzzle game this time only the mechanics were from another team and as with Counter Strike they hired the team (the game was a graduate work for university) http://www.nuclearmonkeysoftware.com/narbaculardrop.html

DOTA 2 is also not valves idea it's a "mod"/map for Warcraft 3

Left4Dead I do not know much about, I played it but found it to be nothing for me (my brother loves it XD). It's a unique zombie survival game highly focused on multiplayer.

so no, I don't think most companies should work like Valve.

EDIT: yeah they are popular, but so is JUSTIN BIEBER!

Valve is like the good crazy uncle of video games. Always eccentric, always doing what other people don't dare to and always make you smile because of how bizarre they are.

I don't think many other devs could pull it off because a lot of them have publishers behind them who only want the money, Valve clearly are just working on games that they want to make, which turns out to make good, but very delayed games.

Gorilla Gunk:

Witty Name Here:
So what do you think Escapist, do you think more game companies should follow Valve's example

Hell no.

This may sound crazy but I don't like waiting years and years for a game to come out.

but you wouldn't, you would release one game and then sell hats for that game, both in real life and for in-game.

oh fuck, I just thought of something.

What if there was a real life Mann Co. Store..... and we could buy REAL hats.....

Jesus, we would never see another Valve game, ever.

Or maybe they haven't announced or maybe even not been working on HL3 because it's just another shooter.

Valve are a bunch of cool guys it seems, they relate to their customers better than any company I have seen, and their customers for the most part seem to be getting sick of shooters.

Maybe (and this might seem a bit crazy), but they're waiting to bring us HL3 when they think they can make it a good game, I don't have a problem with that.

This; "We're entitled to HL3" attitude is bullshit.

Anyone here that works in retail knows what it's like to have customers badgering you for stuff, it's infuriating. So I think we should cut them some slack.

Don't you guys remember that new employee handbook for Valve that got leaked?

It's all in there. How is this news? XD

http://newcdn.flamehaus.com/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf

Valve's employee handbook was released several months ago and their structure was revealed. Essentially every person gets to do whatever they want. Unfortunately, this translates to making more hats for TF2.

I personally don't care for the company. I try to limit how much I use steam as much as possible and I am always amused by how people keep falling for their seasonal scam sales. In addition, the only thing they released recently was Portal 2, which would have died quietly were it not for the "Made by Valve" stamp.

CrossLOPER:
http://newcdn.flamehaus.com/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf

Valve's employee handbook was released several months ago and their structure was revealed. Essentially every person gets to do whatever they want. Unfortunately, this translates to making more hats for TF2.

I personally don't care for the company. I try to limit how much I use steam as much as possible and I am always amused by how people keep falling for their seasonal scam sales. In addition, the only thing they released recently was Portal 2, which would have died quietly were it not for the "Made by Valve" stamp.

how are the sales scams?

serious question...

Darkmantle:

how are the sales scams?

serious question...

Well, there is a less than a fair chance that you are going to win anything in those contests. Not any different from any other such contests, but I am shocked to the extent people love and praise this company as if they are above such tactics.

CrossLOPER:

Darkmantle:

how are the sales scams?

serious question...

Well, there is a less than a fair chance that you are going to win anything in those contests. Not any different from any other such contests, but I am shocked to the extent people love and praise this company as if they are above such tactics.

which is a fair enough point, but 75% off something is a bonus, to hell with the contest :p.

it would be good without the contest is what I'm saying.

Vivi22:

Gorilla Gunk:
When Valve started making L4D2 they just had a bunch of ideas and a deadline

Assuming they had a deadline is a bit of a stretch given they never really have deadlines. I'd say it's far more likely that they were playing L4D long before it was released, had a solid idea of what was going to make it into L4D, and a long list of things they wanted to add for a sequel. It just so happened that it progressed quickly enough to be released a year later. Make no mistake, if Valve thought it needed to be delayed 6-12 months to do it right that's what would have happened.

They mentioned prerelease that it wasn't meant to be a sequel, it was DLC/patches that got very out of hand and resulted in a lot of deep changes to the engine and the AI. Which funnily enough barely get used in the final product.

paid solely on how much the rest of the employees feel they contribute to the company.

This disturbs me a little. It seems like a great set up for a round of bullying.

Otherwise, if it works for valve it works. Total anarchy seems a little too far for me and I don't think it would work in anything but a company that focuses on entertainment. But it would be cool to see more cooperatives rather than top down power structures that exists to reward the biggest player not the company as a whole.

(Not saying entertainment isn't a legitimate biz, but there is a difference between a game not meeting its deadline and your water damaged bathroom taking ten years to repair.)

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