“We are going to play the game again.”
In March 2018, Gabe Newell, the founder of Valve G Fat, announced that they would return to the game development field. As the creators of the series “Counter-Strike”, “Portal”, “Survival Road”, “Fortress of the Legion” and other series, we have some expectations of its return.
Prior to this, V has temporarily dropped the status of game developer for many years. The last V agency we can think of was “Dota 2”, which was launched in 2013.
After that, the company, which was often blamed for its slow efficiency, began to launch new works year after year.
At the end of 2018, V company first launched the card game “Artifact” based on the “Dota” world view. After more than 6 months, they quickly presented the first version of “Dota Domination”; immediately after the beginning of 2020, V The long-awaited VR shooting game “Half-Life: Alyx” is confirmed to be released on the 23rd of this month; and an AVG “Valley of the Gods” that has appeared as early as 2017, I believe it is not far from the world .
Unexpectedly, the V agency that “layed down to make money” stood up sharply after standing up. But for this company that has resumed its old business, the important question may be whether it can adapt to the current market environment. And given the performance of several games after launch, one wonders: “Does V company still have the ability to make explosive models?“
Successive defeats after comeback
The old rivers and lakes came out of the mountain again, or because of long battles, they lost again and again. This is why the outside world is questioning its capabilities.
The A card (“Artifact”) at the end of 2018 has been highly anticipated by the V agency. This project has gone through four years of hard work, with “Dota” IP blessing, and gameplay is deeply integrated with the Steam platform. V even invited Garfield, the creator of Magic, to participate in the development. All this investment seems to indicate that the game is not too far away from success.
But after the A card was listed, it encountered a startling “violence”. The number of its online players has dropped from a peak of 60,000 at the time of their debut to a few hundred. Later, the two main designers left, the game stopped updating, and the V Million Dollar Championship planned by V Company was gone.
What exactly happened? “The revenue model is not accepted by players; lack of rich player community tools, and short-term goals like achievements and missions; the game is bombarded with bad reviews,” producer Garfield attributed the problem of the A card to three points.
In any case, the V agency failed to make its first shot. But it quickly turned over. At the end of June last year, V announced that “Dota Domination” would conduct a multi-platform public test. Against the background of the self-gosement craze at that time, “Dower Tower Industry” public beta for three days, once reached 200,000 simultaneous online people-this number does not include mobile users.
But good times don’t last long. In just one month, the average daily online population of the game hovered between 60,000 and 70,000. The situation of opening high and walking low makes it easy to leave a look and feel to peripheral players: it may also be cold.
It was too early to say that. After all, the game is still in Early Access. The V agency also continues to improve this product with the rhythm of a small iteration in two days and a major update in five days.
As of February 25 this year, “Dota Domination” announced the end of the eight-month EA, and finally revealed its official appearance. It has undergone 67 updates throughout the Beta status.
Domination after several iterations is more like another self-checker. V has enriched its battle mode and added some PVE content; adjusted the rules of building fetters, and introduced a participating unit named “overlord”; at the same time, the sword was used to cut away monster rounds, thereby speeding up the pace of the game.
However, the efforts of V Company failed to reverse the decline. “Ship New” and “Dota Dominance” have attracted some old users to return, but they are still downhill. Take a look at the data: the game ’s online peak on Steam in the past week was only in its early 30,000; V ’s “Fortress 2” launched 13 years ago, and the number of online users approached 70,000 during the same period.
The game’s performance on the mobile side is also less optimistic. The official version of Apple ’s free list in Europe and the United States is basically in the top 500.
Dota Domination itself carries a lot of value-the first self-developed mobile game of V agency, the first mobile game developed by the Origin 2 engine, but unfortunately, it is limited by product design and self-propelled The heat of chess itself dissipated, and it finally failed to become the next explosion of V agency.
The company V, which was frustrated in card games, chose to focus its efforts on the areas where it excels. As a VR FPS, can Half-Life: Alyx become a masterpiece with sustained influence? V has established its status through “Half-Life” and FPS, but if you judge based on the VR market, you may not expect too much from it due to the sluggish market status and limited user plate.
But compared to this question that remains to be seen, people are more curious whether the V company itself is already less sensitive to game production. Some people questioned how difficult it was for V to produce explosive models, and some thought that V had lost its ability to develop masterpieces of games.
According to Grape King, this once-front-line game developer still lacks complete conditions, experience and self-drive in game production. In other words, V may not be as senior and focused as we think.
1. The development environment is not ideal
Let’s talk about the conditions first. Although V has a strong family base, it is relatively a “small” company. According to information, this company had only 325 employees in 2017. Running Steam and “Dota2” and “CS: GO” both require a lot of manpower. In addition to the investment in hardware and VR, I think that the V agency with more than 300 people cannot allocate more manpower for game development.
In comparison, Activision Blizzard had 9,800 employees in 2018, compared with 2,500 employees in the same period. There are many judgments and disparities in strength.
In addition, the development of games also requires organizational support. The flat V to the extreme, if it is to rely on the interests of employees to promote large projects, it is obviously not very efficient. This was reflected in Steam Machine, which was once in trouble, and the A card that had been in the market for four years.
In fact, not all developers can realize value in a flat environment. G Fat also said frankly at a media conference: “Everyone thinks they need a high degree of autonomy that can independently allocate time independently, but it turns out that many people don’t like this.” (Valve) is a bad working environment. “
2, rusty like a novice
Look at accumulation. V has a considerable accumulation of technology, with self-developed engines, self-developed systems, and its own industrial design, as G Fat said: “We are confident to challenge any hardware field”; but return to the field of game development, The former veteran is a bit new.
Looking back at V’s product line, it is not difficult to find that it has been neglected for completely independent production for ten years. Before the release of “Artifact”, the two games produced by V agency were “Dota2” and “CS: GO”-the former is a product made by the Mod developer and then given its technical support; the latter is a work by ancient fans Upgraded version.
These two games have some common characteristics: inspired by players, mature IP, and strong fan base. You see, V has almost no experience in successfully running an independent new work in this generation. It has always been in the user circle of the service, and rarely deals with new players outside the circle. Therefore, it is difficult to say how deep the company V is in terms of game operation.
Regardless of whether it is the A card or the operation of Dota Dominion, the response of V agency seems to be a little behind the change of the user group. First, the A-card payment model touched public outrage, and later the frequent updates of Dota Dominion were off-guard.
These decisions that are separate from the needs of players may illustrate the sway and blindness of developers when facing new environments and new markets. When a new manufacturer first faces the market, it is difficult to avoid the situation. What’s more, the V agency that redone the game didn’t actually bet on the category that they were best at.
3.Aiming at game development
Finally, let’s talk about how much the V agency has the motivation to play games. Maybe not too much. If you have the heart, this time the developers who have been on the front line will not be dormant for many years. More realistically, V’s current main business is PC game distribution; from the current market structure, Steam’s leading position is still difficult to be shaken.
When you can make a lot of money by collecting rents, why bother to open a shop yourself? When this choice was put in front of V agency again, it chose to try again. Although not very successful. But I think that the value of making one or two explosive models may not be significant to the development of the entire platform business. Possibly, it also affects the exposure of cooperative games.
From the perspective of V’s resource allocation, what this company wants to do may be a host platform integrating software and hardware. After launching “Dota 2” in 2013, V Company has put aside game development for the time being. At the same time, it first launched the Steam OS system, then released the Steam Machine host, and later cooperated with HTC to develop the Vive virtual reality headset, and then launched the self-developed VR device Valve Index.
This series of operations shows that V is to create its own ecological closed loop. G Fat also stated publicly, “We are a bit envious of Nintendo.” He envied Nintendo to always control everything, and envied the company to always combine hardware and software to design new game experiences. He believes that this is the future focused on by V agency.
Therefore, in the short term, V’s main interest does not seem to be in game development.
Lessons learned by V agency
As a long-established company, V is not weak in game development. However, it is not easy to return to the development field, which may well reflect one thing: In this era of user voice, partial prejudice and superstitious experience will run into walls, even if you have a high status, masterpieces like clouds, and IP is loud .
No one is always young, but there are always young people in the market. If you want to analyze the reasons for the two losses of V agency, I think the main reason is that it has not tried to collide with emerging consumers as a developer for more than a decade. Some people understand this as the arrogance of the V agency, but I think it is a manifestation of its ungroundedness.
The reality is that for the operators of a game, if you have no regard for the user, users may vote with their feet.
This is V’s own lesson, and it is also a place where incumbent developers easily step on the pit.
Author: Mew Fez
Source: Game Grape
Original address: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/mOkMqOFfTRTxgYUS4wWfHQ