You can buy Portal, Left 4 Dead and Half-Life on the Xbox and PS3. Compare that to Forza, Halo: Reach or Uncharted: it’s far to say that Valve’s attitude to platform exclusives is extremely different to what you’d get from Microsoft or Sony. We had the chance to ask Jason Holtman at the Develop Conference why Valve choose not to pursue Steam exclusives like their console competitors.
His answers says a lot about why Steam is so well regarded within the games industry; and it makes sense given Valve's interest in putting Steam on your television.
“Often times,” says Jason, “when people come to see us, they’ll say, ‘well, what’s the deal? Is there an exclusive arrangement?’ And we’re like, ‘no’. And they’re like, ‘where else should we go’.”
Jason’s response: “Where has has value. Where else has customers. Where else are good partners.”
Valve want to see other platforms succeed believing that success within the games industry will breed more success. “When people are building other stuff, we love it. We, at our core, we love the PC, and we love what we do. We have our own business, but at the end of the day, we see ourselves as an entertainment company, a company that partners with other entertainers and we’re all part of this bigger, broader business. If we encourage that, I think it’s actually a generalised benefit as opposed to ‘gosh’, we have to have everybody and lock them up.”
And if the competition offer is particularly good? If the competition is building a better platform and business than Valve?
“You should go to the other thing, if they’re building something better than us. You should go to the other thing. But while you go there, you should stay here too. There doesn’t have to be a choice.”
But Jason has some words of warning on what opportunities could be lost for a platform exclusive. “Places to put your content shouldn’t be limited by exclusives, unless you’re awfully good at it. The problem is that you’re making a prediction about whoever you’re going exclusive with - they have to be buying you out of the other opportunities.”
“Maybe it makes perfect sense, if somebody over indexes it, and pays you too much? But maybe the risk is too real. Like, how do I know that delaying this a month, or not being on this other platform, or not being in this place....how do I know that when you gave me extra marketing, and some odd hundreds and thousands of pounds, that I wasn’t giving up hundreds and thousands of customers, and millions of pounds? I don’t know, it’s just too risky.”