Campo Santo Valve-o


My first thought was this is being posted 3 weeks late.

My next thought is how the scrappy upstart (indie darling) advertising & mentality (for this team of 12) and the current turn on Valve (company who does not care to remove the neo-Nazi groups on their sales platform’s community pages or pay for actual moderation to ensure the safety of their users or even developers) from the critical crowd will reconcile. Obviously with the caveat here of rule 10 (especially due to Idle Thumbs networks links to staff here).


My lazy dunk is that Valve is putting itself on the road to making games again by absorbing other studios already making games. It’s a method…


RIP the possibility of any more games being made by Campo Santo

Or any new games that aren’t phone apps.


A AAA company buying a small studio is always bad news, but it’s especially sad with Campo Santo. I love Firewatch and I have a lot of respect for them given their principled stance with regards to PewDiePie. Naturally I hope this will turn out well for everyone, but considering what the OP wrote about Valve, I’m preparing for this to go the way of Westwood. And yes, I know Westwood was EA.


Perhaps this is an unimportant technicality, but I’m not clear on to what degree, if any, Campo Santo will continue to exist. Is Campo Santo becoming a Valve studio? Are the members of Campo Santo becoming a part of Valve proper, without any sort of delineation between them and the rest of the company? Will the Campo Santo name be retired after In the Valley of Gods? Or will that be released as a Valve game? Valve has traditionally presented everything as simply “Valve”, right? For example, the name Turtle Rock didn’t appear anywhere on Left 4 Dead, did it?

There are obviously more serious concerns about Valve these days, as alluded to by @Shivoa, but for whatever reason I’m really distracted by those specific details.


My first reading of “They asked us if we’d all be interested in coming up to Bellevue and doing that there and we said yes.” was that they’re going to get 12 new desks with wheels on, going to camp out in a corner of the current Valve office, and try to get a few more Valve engineers to move their desks over to help out. I’d expect Valve branding on the box, Valve as developer title, end of current name beyond their blog (maybe even that moves to Valve servers with Valve branding - they could even resurrect the inactive Valve blog page).


That sounds pretty plausible.


To be honest, I’m not all that surprised. Albeit it’s been a while, but Valve has a history of doing this. A big chunk of their series began as either mods (Counter-Strike, Team Fortress) or classroom/amateur projects (Portal), the developers of which they then hired or absorbed. Now they’re upgrading that strategy to taking in an indie studio that did good work.


I guess to err on the positive side, being bought by Valve means they’re probably not going to run out of funding as easily, on the other hand Valve has proved themselves to poorly manage games and their storefront, and seem to spend more time looking to gambling and trading cards than supporting new ideas.
I hope for the best for Campo Santo, if it doesn’t work out I hope they can cut their losses like IOI did and keep owning their games.


Anything to get out of San Fransisco I guess


That was my first thought on seeing the announcement. My second was “they probably need the funding”. And yeah, Valve buying smaller studios, stripping their identity, and letting them fall apart is a whole thing.


FWIW I believe Tom Francis of Heat Signature and Gunpoint started working under Valve midway through Heat Signature’s development. I think he even moved to Washington and everything. I don’t know if he still works there, but he completed Heat Signature (and a little XCOM-like) and is already working on a new game. I don’t think this is definitely a “death knell” for Campo Santo games.

EDIT: here’s a link to Tom Francis’ blog from 2016, in which he announced this. I follow him on Twitter, so I only saw him alluding to it there, but he’s only ever been vague about it, hence my not knowing if he still works there or not.


Oh No (please don’t mess up one of the few shining lights in this helldump hellfire of an industry, Valve)


I agree. Anyone skeptical of this because it’s Valve have more than ample reason to retain that skepticism, but I’m thinking Campo Santo know what they’re doing.

To be absolutely clear, though: Valve sucks.


I don’t see this having any repercussions in the short term, though their next project will likely ship out faster with the extra legwork.

Valve’s current problem is less the EA/Activision/etc one of “absorbing studios to squeeze them dry of all potential profits and throw them away right afterwards” and more “their libertarian chaos zone team structure prevents people from being on the same page and keeps most projects from getting off the ground nowadays”.

The long-term concern is if the Campo Santo employees start dissolving into the confused Valve behemoth after their current project is done. At least they’ll be financially stable for the foreseeable future.


This doesn’t really concern me that much. Firewatch seemed like a big enough success that Campo Santo wouldn’t be desperate enough to enter into some really bad deal with Valve (I’ve heard a rumor that games kinda sorta cost a lot to make so who knows the details on that), and I doubt Valve wants the bad PR that would come with shutting down or stifling production of a studio people were excited to see more from (given how they handle a lot of their business though it’s v possible they don’t give a shit about what people think of them and their messy-ass store).

I’m more curious what their bigger play is. Gather a large group of devs from different studios to band together and work on a larger project, or just buy up studios and let them do their thing for now. I mean Valve openly said they were interested in shipping games again just last month so a move like this isn’t shocking but still leaves a lot of questions about their strategy.


Current response: this Rob Zacny clip


I haven’t had enough experience with Valve in the long-term to get the full weight of this but honestly this just seemed like a way for Campo Santo to continue making games with additional resources. And getting out of San Franscisco which seems extremely hostile for anyone living there unless you’re Google.


This is a very versatile clip


Has Rob ever narrated an audiobook? I can never seem to get into reading history but I would listen the hell out of a Zacny rendition of pretty much anything.