Gabe Newell has come forward with a surprising admission about the way Valve does business: they operate largely without budgets.
This revelation comes from Gamasutra, who were at a press briefing held by Valve last week.
"At Valve, we don’t have a budgeting process." Said Newell "There’s not like some group of people who go off and say this is how much money we think we’re going to make on this title, so that’s how many people we’re going to assign to work on that project," said Newell. "That’s an economy based on that budgetary process. Our economy is based on people’s time. That’s the scarce commodity."
"The scarce commodity here is not money — it’s how many hours there are in a day," Newell continued. "So everybody is expected to essentially vote on what is most important to our customers by the projects that they work on. So none of the people you saw today [Gamasutrafolks who worked on Steam Support, VR, CS:GO, Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2] are working on those projects because somebody else told them to work on them. Everybody’s working on those projects because they thought they could make the largest contributions to our customers by working on them. People move around all the time."
Then he explained that this approach is how Valve started to put together MOBA Dota 2, a project that most people thought was a weird project at first, before Adrian Finol joined Dota 2 production and got the camera working, which inspired more engineers to try the project out in the hope of finding exciting problems to solve.
This explains why we’re still waiting on Portal 3, Half Life 3, and even Left 4 Dead 3 but Newell said that this is down to the fact people want to work on interesting projects rather than another sequel.
This is a bold idea, but not one that could work if Valve weren’t behind the monolithic presence that is Steam. You can read more insights from Newell on all things Valve-esque.