In a new partnership with the 3D Printing company Shapeways, Valve will now allow anyone to make and sell their own Valve merchandising, the company announced today.
The partnership gives individual creators a fair share of autonomy to make whatever they want. With free reign over all of Valve's software and hardware IP, participants can create personalized models for series such as Half Life, Portal and Team Fortress, as well as items for Valve's Steam Link and Steam Controller.
Additionally, Shapeways maintains a robust system for creators to create pretty intricate models. Shapeways handles all of the actual 3D printing for its users, offering over 60 different plastics, ceramics and metals to be used as materials. All a user has to do his upload their models and choose how many copies they want, or, if so inclined, they can choose to join Shapeways' marketplace to sell their creations in collaboration with the company.
When a user decides to participate in this new program, in exchange for access to the license and the ability to sell and advertise on and offline, Valve will be paid 10-percent in royalties based on the cost of the model, which is handled automatically by Shapeways. However, both Valve and Shapeways are giving creators the option to opt out of this program if they feel their product doesn't require licensing. Valve, of course, does reserve the right to revoke its license from any products it sees fit.
"We’re thrilled that Valve has decided to embrace and empower its fan community in this way, and we’re confident it will pave the way for a new movement in companies engaging with fandoms,” Shapeways CEO Tom Finn said in a press release.
While fans creating their own unique items based on their preferred fandoms is nothing new – there was a notorious bootleg Simpsons market in the '90s – it's pretty unprecedented to see a company give the keys to its castle out so freely and widespread. But, if there was a company to do it, it makes sense it's Valve. The developer-publisher-hardware-software creator is well-known for its flat work structure, allowing its employees to move freely between projects, as well as starting and abandoning their own as they see fit. While this approach to business seems perhaps oxymoronic, it's proved a massive success and has made the company's founder, Gabe Newell, a multi-billionaire.