Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Use a Machine to further release the Valve
Valve are an odd company, there is no other way to put it. Yesterday they announced that they were going to add an entirely new game mode to their free to play shooter, Team Fortress 2. A new game mode that seems to change the way people play together significantly. There are many many sites covering this update, however essentially it is a co-operative defence mode against AI enemies. This got me pretty excited and it is a clever change for TF2, but it is the way, or more accurately the timing of the announcement that struck me.
The put out a cool new video (also cleverly made in the source film maker) on the 14th, and it will be released today, the 15th. No no no, this is not how you do it. If other companies are to go by, you talk to the press months in advance, put out teaser trailers and release screen shots. You do not, under any circumstance, just release stuff. Though maybe if you are Valve you can. If you go to pretty much any gaming website, and they will have a feature on it. That's a lot of attention in one big burst. Hell my other half is reinstalling TF2 to play it.
That is another reason why it is a clever update. TF2's continual development is reliant on people buying things. For people to buy stuff they have to play it. My wife doesn't play it because she has little to no interest in "pvp" (she is still very much in a mmo mindset). However a game mode were you have to play as team against a computers is far appealing, I guess this is a lesson learnt from Left 4 Dead. After all there is nothing more annoying than loading up a multi-player shooter and just dieing because you don't know what your doing. And perhaps for a game you paid for, you would persevere, however a free game you are likely to just give up. This new mode seems to provide a nice gateway into the game, and in turn the possiblity of a player buying something. Though even if Valve attract new player who never buy anything, they are still increasing the foot traffic through the digital store.
I sometimes get the feeling that valve are just making stuff up as they go, and other times they seem like the shrewdest company in the world. As while this Mann vs Machine update seems very much like they are launching it when it was finish, a clever people have gone through and picked out hints from there videos going back a couple of year. Also rumours are abound that Half-Life 3 will be announced at Gamescom, just when everyone is looking in Valves direction anyway. Nope, decided, anyone who thinks Valve aren't working to a grand scheme are nuts.