Poll Question 095 – Is it time to merge amateur and professional game development?

19th August 2008

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Former Sony CEO Chris Deering recently said “currently only 3 in 10 games recoup their development budgets. … So developers will have to turn to new revenue sources to cover their losses.”
There is little doubt that developing games is becoming harder and harder for so many reasons. It seems to me that the amateur game development community produces incredible work. Therefore I would like to pose a question that should generate much discussion, if few votes…

Is it time to merge amateur and professional game development?

Allow Me To Explain

It goes without saying that a LOT of the amateur mods released are total crap but that may be less to do the the skill of the modders than with mod-management and other administration-type skills. There is also a lot more to releasing a game than just making maps, models and other artistic assets.

But I can’t help thinking that the amateur gaming community is a vast resource just waiting to be exploited. I use the word exploited in a positive way.

The ramifications of somehow using the amateur community to provide content for retail games could be both good and bad. Games could be cheaper and more numerous. But on the other hand managing the financial aspects, putting full-time workers out of work and replacing them with many part-time workers are just two issues off the top of my head.

I certainly don’t think it would be easy but that shouldn’t stop somebody from trying and who comes to mind? Valve, of course. The HL community is probably the most suited for this type of project.

Valve could set up a section that designs and manages the major aspects of a modest game and then offers the detailed work out to the community. Strict rules and controls would need to be set but it would definitely be an interesting project.

You could sight Gmod as an example but that was different because that was made and then sold, same as Counterstrike etc.

I have said before that Steam should be used to “sell” maps, models, skins etc. I would pay for some of the maps I’ve played and I am sure others would too.

The point I am trying to make is that the community is giving to the community but perhaps the developers could try and get involved in a way that benefits everybody: the developers, the modders and the players.

The Poll


  1. Mman

    Yes, but Valve already are merging them with hiring Adam Foster (Minerva).

  2. Yes, but Valve already are merging them with hiring Adam Foster (Minerva).

    That’s completely different. He now works for Valve so he is no longer an amateur. I’m talking about something completely different.

  3. I think Valve could be the publisher, when we make a good mod ( like paranoia or AOM:DC ) Valve just publish it, do some advertisement, etc. But hold 5-6 part-time workers on a project is too hard, this would be chaos.

  4. Memobot

    Paying for maps would be interesting, but isn’t the fact that maps made at an amateur level are free because they’re made at an amateur level. Putting prices on such developments could be seen as making them professional. Adam Foster is a good example of this. What’s the difference between his amateur mapping and his current (and so far, unseen) work with Valve? He was at a good level with Minerva, the main difference that he is now employed with Valve. With other maps on sale, wouldn’t they be technically employed by Valve, or with whatever company their creation is affiliated with.
    It would be interesting to see how the companies” copyright contracts would change to allow such a thing to take place anyway.

  5. I voted 3. all decide is ‘valve’s will’

    Not must or able.

    and, I’m(or will) not trust the Steam.

  6. Oopla

    I am betting the sony guy was talking about in game advertising.

    There is some potential for a developers working closer with the fans and allowing fan content to be sold, making everyone more money all around.

    But there is a down side of this. For every Minerva, there is a “Lynch Spore”

    This is EA’s biggest nightmare. This content could make it to the media, under the lie that it is official content, and be a PR disaster. Bigger than Hot Coffee. This is a “Story” that would sell tons of advertising. About how Spore “Allows and condones racism.” No one ever stopped to point out that the whole hot coffee story was BS, that users had to illegally modify their games to get access to the racey stuff in a game that was rated so that anyone who was playing already should have had an idea of what a penis and a vagina are.

    Nope, defend that game and you are defending giving pornography to children.

    I think that any game developer who wants to work with fan content has to get over the entirely possible fear of this kind of situation.


  7. Werner Spahl

    I think this is a bad idea because sooner or later free good content would vanish, because modders would try to sell out before releasing something for free. Also Valve is more or less doing it already. Just look at their games! Besides Half-Life their whole portfolio consists out of former mods which are not free anymore. Among these are Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, Gmod and The Ship, at least with TF2 they completely changed the style. Portal is based on a free demo as well and as far as I know the former free mods They Hunger and Natural Selection are going the commercial Valve-way too.

  8. Hoyy

    I think it’s about time this happens. All the loses a dev team goes thru is incredibly annoying, and to know how bad it feels only being a dev youself. To let some of the questions that plunge in the development of a game or mod, wether in an entirely new engine, or simply a sequel like the episodic releases from Valve, if devs, amateurs and pros alike, were to reunite, the efforts into making a game would be decreased drastically. The only downside is the major difficulty it would be to administrate a bigger team, but the benefits are so great, like speeding up development, not overloaded mappers, sound makers, coders … (there will be more people to do the same work) .

  9. I think this is a bad idea because sooner or later free good content would vanish, because modders would try to sell out before releasing something for free.

    I don’t believe it would work that way. I believe there is a possibility of some middle ground. Perhaps Valve could create the team I mentioned in the post and run a project every year. More like a stepping stone than a replacement.

    There will be many teams and individuals that will want complete creative control and these people would continue to release maps and mods.

  10. zellock

    Wow… I’m gonna have to agree with Oopla here. He basically said everything I was gonna.

  11. We kind of are already merging amateur and professional development. Just look at how Cavestory is being developed for Wiiware. It started out with just one guy, but he got picked up by a team and now his work is getting a total upgrade under his supervision.

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