22 December 2009

Valve Is Not Interested In Machinima

Here is a direct quote from Valve:

"We are not interested in licensing our technology or IP for machinima. This includes providing copyright approvals."

Well, that about says it all. Valve has no interest in machinima. It is really unfortunate because the Source Engine is so amazing and they offer such great tools for creating machinima.

What does this mean for Source Engine machinima? Probably nothing. Most people will continue to do what they do until they are told directly not to do it. But this does change things for those of us who look beyond YouTube popularity as what we want to achieve.

Source Engine can make amazing machinima. However, you cannot do much with it other than put it on YouTube, hope for a lot of views and then maybe hope that those views lead to somebody taking interest in you.

And what if they do take interest in you, then what? You can't actually use the Source Engine to make anything for anybody to use. Even joining some festivals will prove risky because some ask for extensive copyright permissions. This means YouTube Partner and Revenue Sharing is out of the question as well. I still have no idea how machinima.com does it and Valve would not comment on the subject.

I don't want to give the wrong idea and make it sound like we are giving up Source Engine machinima after our first try or anything. We still love the engine and the machinima that comes out of it and of course still have Shelf Life chapters to work on, we just feel very disappointed in Valve and the lack of interest they have in machinima. There is clearly no real future with Valve or Source Engine machinima other than personal projects free to the community.

This may lead to people moving away from Source Engine machinima and toward alternatives with licensing options. We were just given the iClone software that looked great already but sounds even better now that we know where Valve stands on machinima. Who knows what else we will look into, Source Engine is all we have known up until now.

Well, that's the news from the Valve vs. Machinima front. Thought it might be interesting to some of you.


  1. Sorry for your disappointment. It's not surprising though to older members of the machinima community who have seen Valve turn away many times from developing a real possibility for licensing their engine and growing a community. You aren't the only one that's gotten the cold shoulder. I know that doesn't make you feel better, but for some reason known only to themselves, Valve just doesn't want to deal with filmmakers who want to make money using the Source engine.

    It's part of the reason many people have moved away from game related machinima towards Moviestorm and Iclone.

    Perhaps someone will break through their wall some day, but I don't think it will be very soon.

    Good luck!

  2. This is the first time I have heard this so definitely stated. You are right, some really wonderful machinima produced with this engine. It must feel like a real kick in the pants and I'm sorry. However, I am excited to see what you may be able to achieve in Iclone _Kate Fosk

  3. Wait hold on doesn't Valve love to and enjoy working with it's community e.g. mods. Well Machinima has a major community using valves game's and software. I tihnk Valve needs to have a look before they say no.

  4. "for some reason known only to themselves"

    We can guess pretty easily, though.

    Individual negotiations/contracts with a large number of small film-makers most of whose productions will not have significant commercial success are a poor return on investment for Valve, which is hardly short of avenues to make money.

    If a game/engine software company does want to make money from licensing to machinima makers, I think they probably have to do it generically like Microsoft and Blizzard have tried to do. It's still not a sure bet, or a cheap or hassle-free process for them, though. Do we know / can we guess what the numbers are on Blizzard or Microsoft's efforts so far?

  5. The Source machinima makers should collectively sue Valve for all of the eyeballs they have already acquired that helped someone purchase a Valve Source product.

    I estimate that at a 1:1 ratio, so that's millions of new customers.

  6. Honestly we are not that surprised. But as Kate said this was the first contact we finally had with them and their answer was simply a short "no" more or less and that was a bummer.

    It won't matter to them much but I am not sure why they are so anti-community on this one. It is not like they are going to be hurt or loose money on it. I just think they figure it is not worth their time and money to spend the effort to come up with a license and/or contracts.

    So this is just the most updated stance from Valve that apparently has not changed as Ricky stated. Also, these statements came from Source licensing department and their attorney so it is pretty much the final answer.

    Who knows what it means for us or for the Source Engine community in general. I pointed them to our movie and told them everything we were doing and they did not tell us specifically to stop. I think they are just reserving the right to stop us at any time and say "we never said you can do that". But in the meantime they don't mind the free advertising as long as we are not getting much out of it.

    Oh well, I guess Valve is just a corporation not interested in the machinima community around them, unless of course we can make some good money for them but machinima has not proven that possible yet.

  7. All the big game companies have this same stance, not just Valve.

    You're making them out to be a bad guy because they don't want you profiting from their IP, which I think is understandable.

    If your reason for making machinima is to generate revenue, then I think you're in the wrong field.

  8. No I don't really think they are bad guys. I just think it is unfortunate they are not interested.

    And we definitely are not in machinima to make money. We spent 2 years on and off of hard work to make Shelf Life before we knew we could even enter festivals and win awards so obviously we did not expect much of anything out of it.

    That does not change the fact that we are disappointed in their response to us. Not surprised, just disappointed.

    But yes, we always look to achieving greater things because it gives you motivation and hope, so there is a tiny bit of motivation kill actually knowing for sure where Valve stands.

  9. Like the way this sounds:

    "You may generate, sell and redistribute your movies created with iClone and/or
    CrazyTalk with full ownership and use-rights to the output media in Image or Video
    format within the output guidelines of this agreement."

    Yeah iClone! :)

  10. Mabye one day Valve will finaly have a look and work with it's machinima community but until then its up to the Machinima Community to let these Companys know were here, and wanting to work with them and use there software.

  11. The Source engine is excellent for machinima, but its excellence isn't only because of the engine. It is also the assets, textures and so forth. For a machinima filmmaker to grow and submit their films to film festivals the important point to consider is copyright which all serious filmmakers must be aware of. IClone is an excellent option for filmmakers. The sad thing is that many games have gained popularity due to machinima films. I bought Half Life 2 not because I am a gamer but because I am a filmmaker. If many people like me decided not to buy games for the machinima potential, though that is a small percentage. The lack of machinima films also takes away sales marketing promotional potentials for specific games.

  12. This is Eddy from Smooth Few Films. We made a Counter-Strike: Source series known as Leet World as well as a well known Portal video called Day in the Life of a Turret using the Source engine.

    We stopped making Source machinima last year because of a response from Valve not too dissimilar to this one. For us, it became a fruitless exercise to sink so much time into something we knew that we could never own completely, particularly when Valve's position on it was so rigid. While I don't blame them for wanting to protect their IP, it does stink for filmmakers that are using their tools (some of the best available) to hone their craft.

    My recommendation to Source filmmakers is to do a side project in Source to practice on what you love, but don't sink all of your time into it. Work on something that you own and can sell, because in the end, that's what'll help you follow your dreams as a creative person. Just my two cents.

    Glad to see an official response posted. We've been telling our community this for about a year, and I think they just thought we were quitters, haha.

  13. Hey Eddy, thanks for the comment. Of course we know Leet World and Day in the Life of a Turret, great work! Day in the Life of a Turret is one of my favorite videos, I have watched it many times. :) I was also impressed by your Web Zeroes series!

    But yeah, Valve is a bit of a bummer. We are committed to finishing Shelf Life and still love what can be produced from the Source Engine but we definitely are discussing what we want to do after Shelf Life. We want to work in a world where there is a least the option of doing something with your hard work, heh.

    And I agree with you, Source Engine machinima needs to be a labor of love but not a commitment for all your spare time if you ever want to push your work to the next level.

    You guys made great Source Engine machinima, made huge contributions toward quality machinima...and moved on. That sounds like a pretty respectable history to me!

  14. Sadly not alone, nor the first.

    We basically got the same response from Valve back in the early 2000's, trying to get (Half-Life 1 based) Fake Science included on a televised Machinima documentary. Our entire segment was forced to be cut because of Valve's refusal.

    Even with the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences representing us, and the greater community, Valve was completely resolute in their decision, "No Thanks."

  15. im currently am learning the source engine tools so i can make awsome machinamas like the leet world i almost have the basic lip syncing down i still have to train my mike a little bit more though. as for profit i am not gonna make profit off of them if people wanna donate thats their own deal not mine cause i will not be markiting of of source machinamas.

    if you want to find me on youtube i have 2 accs kroutonjr which is my main yt acc and thelegiongmod which i made for my clan where i will upload most source vids that i havent made yet.

    ps dont make fun of me for making rs vids its actually one of the few games i get get fps while recording also another reason why i havent started making source vids lol

  16. i'm pissed as well, especally after seeing machinma making money off of source videos and even a few SMALL TIME channels! as in a few hundred views on a month old video kind of small?

    how the hell do they get revenue and not me?

  17. Isn't the copyright issue mostly with the textures and models rather than the use of the engine itself? It seems to me that if that was taken care of, Valve would have no grounds for objection. Of course, that would mean that your animations wouldn't be directly related to the half-life universe but I think that's a fair restriction on Valve's part.

    Of course, I don't recall what the restrictions on the licensing for the engine use are but that's a licensing issue, not a copyright issue.

  18. The door hasn't been closed. But rather left unlocked.

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  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  21. All the big game companies have this same stance, not just Valve.

    You're making them out to be a bad guy because they don't want you profiting from their IP, which I think is understandable.
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    If your reason for making machinima is to generate revenue, then I think you're in the wrong field.

  22. i'm pissed as well, especally after seeing machinma making money off of source videos and even a few SMALL TIME channels! as in a few hundred views on a month old video kind of small?

    how the hell do they get revenue and not me?



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