Valve has an inimitable reputation for building FPSes that sell in their millions. It also owns the Half-Life IP; one of the most lucrative brands in core gaming. Surely any company director, if the decision was down to them, would want the studio to play to these strengths. In fact if any of today's publisher CEOs took control of Valve, the group would have already built Half-Life 3, Half-Life Black Ops, Half-Life 3DS, Half-LifeVille. The developers would have had no choice in the matter.
But Newell lets his studio vote by enthusiasm. And instead of reaching into its reserves of lucrative IP, Valve has chosen to work on the obscure Dota brand. Instead of building another FPS, the group opted for the abstruse PvP/RPG/MMO/arena-strategy-action genre.
These are not safety shots, but it's not enforced ambition either. Valve is developing Dota 2, many miles away from its creative comfort zone, simply because it wants to.
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