And This Week's Dumb Capitalism-Bashing Article Is...

This article reminds me of a section in Oleg Atbashian's book, Hotel USSR, in which he discusses how studying Marxism pervaded every area of life in the Soviet Union. What was true of the USSR is now true of modern academia which leads to nonsense like this.

How capitalism killed one of the best video game studios - Ryan Cooper/The Week

Was this one of the game studios that was bought up, merged or taken over by the big boys? That would make too much sense and it wouldn't be nearly stupid enough.

Fifteen years ago, the game studio Valve released Half Life 2, a first-person shooter about a physicist fighting an alien occupation of Earth. The game was a smash hit, selling over 10 million copies and winning dozens of "game of the year" awards. Naturally, Valve planned a sequel, only this time broken into three parts. Episode 1 and Episode 2 duly followed in 2006 and 2007 respectively, which were both enormous successes as well.

But, to the bitter disappointment of eager fans, the third installment never came. Indeed, Valve — once one of the most artistically creative game studios in the world — has all but stopped producing games altogether. What happened? In a word: capitalism. Valve has mutated from a game developer into a ruthless financial middleman through its platform Steam, which has become the largest platform for digital game distribution — allowing them to make huge amounts of money while creating virtually nothing original themselves.

What "destroyed" Valve was that it became even more successful and never bothered making a sequel to a game from 1998?

Yes, it's really this stupid.

That and Valve got into online gaming and made a lot of money that way.

Except the only reason Half Life 2 existed was because it made a lot of money, due to capitalism. Also the only reason that Valve existed at all was... capitalism.

It's like the free market is some sort of vehicle to connect supply with demand, rather than meeting Ryan Cooper's exclusive whims.

So what gives? One factor is that a capitalist business mindset is badly corrosive to an artistic temperament

Making a game about shooting aliens requires an artistic temperament, but making a game about shooting other people online, doesn't?

But then this already ridiculously stupid article gets even dumber...

Artists are often very anxious about how their creations will be received. A game studio which makes its money from selling games has no choice but to publish at some point. But one with a monopolist platform that essentially prints money can keep neurotically tweaking and polishing their work forever, until they either give up or their abilities rot away to nothing.

Wait... so the lack of financial pressure on Valve also gave it no reason to make the sequel to that game you liked.

You know that's capitalism? Right.

"This situation may not last forever though, as other game companies are attempting to horn in on Steam's market share. Epic Games, publisher of the massive hit Fortnite, recently launched an "Epic Store," and has aggressively scooped up exclusive rights to tons of upcoming third-party games with both direct payments and a generous revenue split. Steam's quasi-monopoly may soon end — and that is probably a good thing. Even after 12 years, the Half Life property is one of the most valuable in the gaming market. Maybe it's time for Newell and company to remember why they got in the business in the first place," Cooper concludes.

Capitalism is evil. But maybe the capitalist marketplace will force Valve to meet the demands of its customers.

Share