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Newell: Valve would likely "disintegrate" before a sale

Newell: Valve would likely "disintegrate" before a sale

Mon 10 Sep 2012 8:19am GMT / 4:19am EDT / 1:19am PDT
Business

Independently minded staff would leave before any acquisition, says co-founder

Valve's Gabe Newell has said that the company would more likely "disintegrate" than be acquired by a larger business.

Speaking to the NY Times, the co-founder of the Half-Life studio and Steam business said it was much more likely that talent at the 300-strong business would prefer to leave rather than ride out the years following an acquisition.

"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,'" he offered.

According to the report, Battlefield and Madden publisher Electronic Arts has made enquiries about buying Valve in the past, with an unnamed source suggesting EA would have valued the company at well over $1 billion. Prolific industry commentator Michael Pachter estimated Valve could be worth around $2.5 billion.

The company famously has a flat management structure that favours self starters, and hires individuals for their overall talents rather than specific skills.

25 Comments

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,339 0.9
Not surprising, given how progressive Valve's ethos is compared to mostly every other company out there. And a turn-about from 4 years ago, where Doug Lombardi said he'd be happy to have a conversation about a buyout. Goes to show how much the company has grown (in both financial and development terms).

and manufacture.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
If only Valve would give up-front credit to the core creators, I would apply there in a heartbeat.

I can't understand why any self-starter would settle for having their name be absorbed into an alphabetical list in the credits. Your name is your most lasting piece of IP ownership. It's one thing you can never be parted from (sorry, you can be parted even from a company that you founded). So if you aren't getting upfront credit for core creative that you do, you are losing your most important piece of branding.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 4:40pm

Posted:2 years ago

#2
Popular Comment
i believe their policy to list names in alphabetical order is specifically in place to weed out people like you.

Posted:2 years ago

#3
Could you explain more what you mean? I don't understand how any one person's work can be more important.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Hugo Trepanier
Senior UI Designer

156 144 0.9
Valve's alphabetical credit list is actually quite democratic. Compare that with today's trend of ignoring credits completely as is the case with many titles on Facebook and iOS. You always have your own portfolio and CV to showcase your personal accomplishments.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
The mob wants it blood.

Always has, always will.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 10:22pm

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
The mob wants it blood.

Always has, always will.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 10:43pm

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
@Brian:

I will explain simply like this: go to any major art museum. The names of the creators are up front and centre. The names of the owners (of those pieces) are secondary.

This is one of the bedrocks of Western Art Tradition. If you take issue with this, go take it up with museum curators why the contributions of individual artists are important. Even in a medium as collaborative as film (which, by the way, is more collaborative than games), the individuals matter.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 6:42pm

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
The mob wants its blood.

Always has, always will.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 10:17pm

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
Popular Comment
The idea, here, Tim, is that in an environment like Valve they don't believe in having a "Lead developer" or "lead artist" or "Lead writer" who can claim on their resume that they were responsible for the lion's share of any one part of the game. The point is that it's wholly collaborative. That all of those dozens of programmers who end up lost in a blob of credits in most games are just as important as you, as a writer, to that final product. It's not that everyone is marginalized, to their minds, but that everyone is SPECIAL. Valve only hires extraordinary people, and if you want to be part of that, you have to accept that you are just one of a bunch of extraordinary people, no more extraordinary than the rest.

I would say what you want, and what you're talking about, is more about hubris than recognition. A game isn't a painting. You didn't make it on your own, and everyone involved helped realize that art. If you want your name to stand out in the credits, learn to code and make it yourself. If you want to be part of something bigger, and more incredible than the works of just one man... well apply to Valve and pray you meet their incredibly high standards.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
The mob wants its blood.

Always has, always will.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 10:17pm

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
The difference between the choir and the development studio is the choir sang someone else's work, while the development studio created that work. ;-)

I'm sure there are lots of instances of lead developers, producers, writers, etc. who have created something so special that they really did deserve far more recognition than others on their teams, but that's obviously not the case all the time, especially at Valve. If you do ever get around to reading their employee handbook you'll see that every coder is expected to be a writer as well and every writer is expected to have input into the gameplay, and you literally have no job title or manager.

A great example of this is Portal. Everyone gave Kim Swift TONS of credit for Portal, and when she left to go make her own thing, she made Quantum Conundrum. Meanwhile, the remainder of her team and the guys at Valve made Portal 2. Which of those two games will be remembered?

Some things, like music, require someone to stand out. Some things, like games, require everyone to work together so well that when you're really doing it right, people will recognize you forever for the company you keep, and not for your name plastered on the top of some game credits.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 10th September 2012 7:25pm

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Hugo Trepanier
Senior UI Designer

156 144 0.9
I wholly understand the need for recognition, and I think Valve provides that by including all participating members in the credits (assuming they don't neglect anyone who contributed significantly).

In my experience, a game has rarely been the effort of just one person. It's always been team work. I've seen cases where some people get too much credit for what they've actually done, sometimes simply because they yap louder than the rest, and others become almost ignored despite the extra efforts they've put in.

I've been a lead on many of my projects and I can guarantee you most of the time I wouldn't have shipped them by myself if I didn't have a competent and dedicated team to help me. Also some of the best projects I've worked on were those where everyone was welcome to make improvement suggestions that were seriously considered. Team work is just as important as having good leaders. The idea here is to recognize that good leaders also need good team members to complete the picture and turn ideas into real projects.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
The mob wants its blood.

Always has, always will.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 10:18pm

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Darren Adams
Managing Director

242 441 1.8
Jesus Christ Tim, you are so far up your own 'art' hole that I think you would be better suited in the film industry, they love folks like you there. Get your name up in lights n shit....blah blah blah

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
Jesus Christ Tim...

How ironic.

(Man, how come I'm the only one standing up for this shit? I never wanted this.)

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 10:21pm

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Darren Adams
Managing Director

242 441 1.8
Tim Carter: (Man, how come I'm the only one standing up for this shit. I'm so fucking sick of this. These assholes blindly ripping things apart. Why fucking me?)

Perhaps because I couldn't believe what I was reading.

Great games are not made by one man or woman but a team of talented 'men and women'. Of course you will say "what about great directors of films or music artists and all their lackeys?". Well my answer is that those industries are old fashioned and clinging onto the 'old ways' when it was fine for one to take the credit of many.

But these days we enlightened folk like to share things; credit being one of them and the notion of one person being any more important than anyone else on the team is just infantile. Work together, win together or fail together. I applaud Valve for their alphabetical listing of credits, kudos to them.



A bit of humility goes a long way to keeping your team happy and producing great products with no friction whatsoever.

That is why I 100% disagree with your views.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th September 2012 10:54pm

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

563 311 0.6
Darren, I spoke blasphemy.

How dare I believe that an individual creator should have their contibution recognized?

As we all know, individuals have never been marginalized or crushed by the group. No. Never.

Blasphemy. Pure and simple.

The mob will not tolerate this.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th September 2012 11:35pm

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Darren Adams
Managing Director

242 441 1.8
[sarcasm]No one person has ever oppressed millions of people, used chemical weapons on the population or tortured and carried out mass genocide. No, no no. That of course was the mob every time, not the twisted views of one individual. Never would that happen....[/sarcasm]

Oh btw you missed your sarcasm tags, aren't you down with the culture? Geez, kids these days.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
How dare I believe that an individual creator should have their contibution recognized?

But Tim, you don't. You clearly believe that others' contributions should receive less recognition than yours.

If you're wondering about the reaction to that, it's because you're showing a lot of disrespect to your co-workers and potential co-workers.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Darren Adams
Managing Director

242 441 1.8
Oh, good edit of your posts Tim, you really are a douchebag.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Hugo Trepanier
Senior UI Designer

156 144 0.9
Not having a credits list is not recognizing people's individual contributions. Listing everyone is recognizing that this is a team effort where each nut and bolt is as important as the rest to tie everything together nicely. That said, I'm not against crediting people with their more direct contributions - only I don't see a reason to make a fuss when it is done differently. If you would refuse to work at Valve for that reason alone, I can't imagine the size of your ego!

Posted:2 years ago

#22
What the hell? What's with the same posts over and over again, Tim?

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

282 1,066 3.8
Fran, I'm guessing he's edited out earlier(possibly even more inflammatory) comments and replaced them with ~melodrama~

Valve's method of crediting people is perfectly fair and democratic, recognising that a game is not made by its leads and managers first but by the combined and equal efforts of every single person who worked on it. They should be lauded for that, rather than reviled - especially when so many other developers decline to include credits in their games at all.

Also, it bears pointing out that people at Valve don't really have formal job titles and many are multidisciplinary contributors, so a traditional credits list would just be confusing with people being listed multiple times for each discipline they worked in.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 14th September 2012 3:39pm

Posted:2 years ago

#24

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