Valve is Paying Developers to Stop VR Exclusivity

/ 5 years ago


Valve has established a great deal of consumer loyalty through the notion that they care about PC gaming and want to ensure each user has an enjoyable experience. The latest big innovation is unquestionably virtual reality which has the potential to offer a level of immersion never thought possible. Of course, it’s still in its infancy and there’s a huge premium for early adopters. Not only that, hardware companies are trying to win the VR battle and become the one device which everyone wants to own. This can be a major problem for consumers especially if games end up being exclusive to a particular device. This goes against the open principle of PC gaming and needs to be addressed in the interest of fairness. Thankfully, Valve is being extremely pro-consumer and paying developers to launch VR games on multiple devices. Recently, a member of the HTC Vive subreddit contacted Gabe Newell and asked him to clarify Valve’s position on exclusivity deals. Mr Newell responded to the e-mail with the following reply:

“We don’t think exclusives are a good idea for consumers or developers,”

There’s a separate issue which is risk. On any given project, you need to think about how much risk to take on. There are a lot of different forms of risk—financial risk, design risk, schedule risk, organizational risk, IP risk, etc… A lot of the interesting VR work is being done by new developers. That is a triple-risk whammy—a new developer creating new game mechanics on a new platform. We’re in a much better position to absorb financial risk than a new VR developer, so we are happy to offset that giving developers development funds (essentially pre-paid Steam revenue). However there are no strings attached to those funds—they can develop for the Rift or PlayStation VR or whatever the developer thinks are the right target VR systems. Our hope is that by providing that funding that developers will be less likely to take on deals that require them to be exclusive.”

This is a great initiative because it means consumers can enjoy a huge range of VR titles without being concerned that they’re being punished for selecting a particular VR device. Clearly, indie developers with a limited budget could be encouraged to focus on one platform especially if there is a financial incentive. Hopefully, Valve has helped to reduce this concept and bring greater freedom to VR. In turn, having a greater library on all devices should result in more people buying VR equipment.

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