In an interview on the Good Game show (via Blue’s News), Valve’s managing director Gabe Newell talked about a really interesting concept: community-funded games. Big budget games, not small indie titles which, at a different scale, already use the community’s help for funding their projects.
Gabe Newell, however, thinks that rather than publisher’s funding, the community investment could be a good idea for developing great titles and maybe on the riskier side. He said:
“One of the areas that I am personally super interested in right now is how we can do financing from the community. So right now, what typically happens is you have this budget, it needs to be huge, it has to be ten million to thirty million dollars; it has to be all available at the beginning of the project. And then there’s a huge amount of risk associated with those dollars so all the game decisions have to be incredibly conservative.”
And we all know that already: the indie developers are those taking risks and bringing innovations, while the big companies only tend to deliver “safe” games which, in the end, follow the same recipe. However, Gabe Newell thinks that community funded games could really happen.
“What I think would be much better would be if the community could finance the games,”he said. “In other words, ‘Hey, I really like this idea that you have and I’ll be an early investor in that.’ In venture capital there’s a concept that your best investors are your customers, because they have ‘secondary gain.’ If you are successful they not only want a return on their money, but they’re incredibly happy if you actually make a great game that they get to play. It would be really great if we could evolve Steam in a way that made it possible so that a developer could say, you know, ‘if you want this game to start moving forward, here’s the sort of ‘seed round’,’ were people can sort of opt-in and say ‘I’ll pay thirty dollars and I own a piece of this game going forward.’”
Sounds interesting, but there’s a big question arising: what does the “piece of this game” actually means? Because the difference is huge if we’re talking about a copy of the game or a share of the profits…