Valve don’t have a marketing department. Never have. All of the complex ARGs, the calculated silences, they come straight from the coders working on Dota or Team Fortress.
But the company’s characteristic quietness has occasionally amplified community upset – for instance, when Dota 2’s Halloween Diretide event failed to arrive last year – and business boss Erik Johnson reckons they need to do better.
“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,” Johnson told Kotaku.
“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.”
Hence the missing marketing department. The dev teams do all the talking, and don’t engage in double-speak.
“We try to be transparent because [there’s] no point in being otherwise,” reasoned Johnson. “Customers will always find out what’s going on. You can’t lie to the internet.”
But time spent talking to fans is time a programmer isn’t writing code instead – and sometimes the conversation has been left untended as a result.
“There definitely does seem to be something where we need to be doing a better job of walking people through what we’re doing,” said Johnson. “There is something we’re missing where we need to spend more time explaining things to users.”