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Valve's community content is bigger business than you might think

March 15, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

"How do you give an award for best game design when it's, you know, a community of 10 million people who are building the experience?"
- Valve co-founder Gabe Newell ponders the state of the industry five years from now in a post-ceremony interview at the BAFTA awards (video embedded above).

Newell doesn't speak publicly very often these days, though when he does, he is more often than not espousing a trend that his company is embracing fully: the democratization of the video game industry. We've spoken previously about his vision for turning the company's game distribution platform Steam into a truly open ecosystem curated by its users, though there's another side to this too, one that is already working well for Valve: the democratization of in-game content.

Don't miss: Let's talk about Steam opening up

According to Newell, community members creating and selling content on its Steam Workshop platform are making as much as 300,000 Euros (nearly $400,000) each, and that's assumedly after Valve has taken its 75 percent cut of the adjusted gross revenue. Even by the most conservative estimate, this would mean that at least one user has put well over a million dollars into Valve's coffers alone. Talk about whales!

This is big, big business for Valve. In fact, Newell attributes open platforms like Workshop as being the main driver behind an estimated 50 percent growth in Valve's business in the last year. And he doesn't see the demand waning anytime soon.

"I think we are going to continue to see tremendous innovation coming out of that potential. Out of the unusual, crazy, weird, disgusting, but ultimately wonderful experiences that people are creating for each other," Newell says.

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