clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Remember when Gabe Newell 'invented' Kickstarter in 2009?

Kickstarter has changed how we think about video games in many ways, and it's certainly impacted how we pay for them. Even big names have taken to the crowdfunding platform to get their new ideas off the ground, and crowdfunding in general has seen some huge successes in the past few years.

After revolutionizing how we buy games with Steam, Gabe Newell actually talked about a service very much like Kickstarter, and he did so back in 2009. The stories about his comments are almost eerie in retrospect.

"What I think would be much better would be if the community could finance the games. In other words, ‘Hey, I really like this idea you have. I’ll be an early investor in that and, as a result, at a later point I may make a return on that product, but I’ll also get a copy of that game,'" Newell stated on ABC TV's Good Game.

"So move financing from something that occurs between a publisher and a developer … Instead have it be something where funding is coming out of community for games and game concepts they really like," he continued.

Sound familiar? Kickstarter had already launched by the time Newell was talking up the idea of having fans fund games, but very few people were aware of the company back in 2009. If they had moved quickly, it's very possible Valve could have stolen the market.

"Valve Software disrupted the traditional retail model with Steam. Now they plan to disrupt the traditional funding model for game development … thanks to you," Kotaku wrote in its story about the quote.

Valve got into the crowdfunding business in a small way with the early access program, but it's interesting that Newell was able to see the possibilities of crowdfunded development before Kickstarter became a known entity. The outlet linked to the definition of the word "crowdfunding" just in case readers didn't recognize the term.

The RockPaperShotgun article about the quote is even more fun.

"This doesn’t mean this is exactly what Valve are going to do, but rather it’s Newell throwing an idea out there. But it’s an interesting one," John Walker wrote. "First of all, it means gamers would be picking games they thought worthy (who wouldn’t back a new 2D BOY project, or want to support a Tim Schafer game? (if he sodding released it on PC)). And secondly, and indeed relatedly, it does away with the need for publishers – something some developers might rather enjoy."

Tim Schafer and Double Fine, of course, enjoyed one of the first major successes on Kickstarter, raising $3.3 million in 2012.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon