With a long history of connecting with its fans simply by bringing a high quality product, Valve is looking to improve by opening the lines of communication with consumers.
In a living industry such as the gaming culture has become, Valve is looking to adapt and expand on its policies by changing the way it communicates with consumers. Previously build on a closed-doors approach where they would produce content and release it with relatively no outside influence, Valve says that they will be changing the way they operate, according to Valve’s Erik Johnson.
“For a long time, the way we’ve operated – especially with games like Counter-Strike, DOTA, and Team Fortress – is by writing software for our customers. Our plan on that has been, ‘Let’s be as efficient as possible in building features and content.’ We want all of our customers to be as close to the people who are actually building content as possible. That influences things like us not having a marketing department. The teams themselves do all of that. We try to be transparent because they’re no point in being otherwise. Customers will always find out what’s going on. You can’t lie to the internet.”
Also looking to become more efficient, an apparent expansion in Community Managers may help Valve produce content in shorter development cycles as well.
“[Time spent communicating] isn’t free. It’s not coming from a marketing department. That’s the programmer who’s gonna be doing that instead of writing code. In our model, we always thought customers would think they’d get the most value out of that person delivering new features to them. But there definitely does seem to be something where we need to be doing a better job of walking people through what we’re doing. There is something we’re missing where we need to spend more time explaining things to users.
While Valve does have an extensive and strong development history, the jury is out as to if this will help development or hurt it in the company. Sometimes getting too many opinions early can hurt a game – remember when Need for Speed was going to allow you to duct tape on a bumper? Oh, that’s right, Focus groups ruined that. Let’s hope that sort of thing doesn’t hurt Half-Life 3.