Interview series explores all things Valve

Curious what goes on behind the scenes at Valve? Develop has conducted five interviews with various company staffers covering subjects like art, Steam, Portal 2, and the unique corporate culture that separates Valve from the rest of the industry. Everyone's desks are on wheels, allowing employees to move into different teams as they choose their own projects.

According to studio head Gabe Newell, Valve's general approach can be summarized as "what can we do for our customers today?" (Other than finish Episode 3, of course.) Newell describes the accelerated development cycle associated with Team Fortress 2, which seems to get an update every few weeks, as the "best model" for what the company is trying to achieve in its post-episodic era. That doesn't mean we won't see Valve tackle huge projects in the future, but they may be the exception rather than the rule.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation in the interviews is Newell's assertion that the one-price-for-all model is broken. Valve already offers frequent discounts to entice folks who might balk at a game's full asking price, but there's much more to it than that. Newell wants to charge gamers "based on how much fun they are to play with." Players who are good for the community should be rewarded, he says, while griefers should pay full price, if not more. Charging customers based on their value to the community is a logical extension of Valve's tendency to view games as entertainment platforms rather than isolated releases, and it'll be interesting to see how the company chooses to move in that direction.

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