Develop Conference: Making devs think about the business side makes content better, says Holtman

Valve: Our motto is ‘anyone can ship anything’

Valve aims to hire employees that are capable of making almost any major decision about a product, Jason Holtman has said.

Speaking at Develop in Brighton, Valve’s director of business development said the studio’s motto was "anyone can ship anything", and its famed flat hierarchy structure meant that everyone at the studio could play a part in all areas of a games development and marketing.

"What’s interesting about business in this context is it’s about getting the content you make into the world," said Holtman.

"It can be marketing, monetising, customer support, all of those pieces.

"The other piece we actually think about is the creation of content, that all has elements of business to it. This is the way I think about business, just getting that content into the world.

"Business to me is not a set of skills. There are people that are really good at business. It is really hard for a computer science engineer or animator to be good at that.

"There are business skills, but these are none what make up business."

Holtman went on to say that it was important for developers to be thinking throughout the whole chain about what can be achieved with a project and how it will ship to make a game more fun and successful.

He added that doing so meant Valve could make better content, and would help both connecting the various professions in a company and bring developers closer to their customers.

"Thinking about things this way actually makes better content as well," he said.

"If they’re thinking business wise, such as "I need more people to play this and like this", they’re going to make better and more fun things.

"It teaches listening and responding to customers. You really do have to constantly be thinking about what the customer wants. If you do that it brings you very closely in contact.

"It is incredibly rewarding for the developers and the group, and makes it fun. All of a sudden you don’t have things like ‘I’m the person making the game and there’s the marketing department which I hate’.

"This happens because there are all these barriers between them."

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