Sep 28, 2017 | By Tess

Video game developer Valve Corporation has teamed up with 3D printing service Shapeways to offer makers the chance to customize, 3D print, and even sell 3D models based on its merchandise. The announcement is sure to excite fans of Half-Life, Portal, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike.

Essentially, the new agreement gives makers a license to create 3D models of props or characters from Valve’s various gaming franchises and hardware platforms, such as Steam Controller and Steam Link. The best part? Makers can actually upload these models to Shapeways and sell them as merch.

"Sniper" 3D model by MINIATURE DEN

The initiative is sure to generate some pretty amazing 3D models—after all, we know how much talent there is out there in the maker world. Shapeways seems to agree.

“Shapeways is excited to enable our design community to fully explore their passion for the Valve universe," said Tom Finn, interim CEO of Shapeways. "Never before has it been so easy for designers and fans to make physical objects based on their favorite games. 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.”

Through the partnership, Valve will see some profit, as makers who upload their Valve-inspired models to Shapeways will be prompted to apply a licensing agreement. In short, if makers opt to license their models under Valve, 10 per cent of sales made off the 3D printed model will be sent as royalties to the video game developer.

"Portal Companion Cube" by Andrew Bougie

Of course, this still gives makers a broad creative range and a fair amount of control. That is, users can create their own designs and can choose the retail price for their model. Furthermore, the license allows them to advertise the 3D prints elsewhere on the internet—thought sales must be made via Shapeways

Makers who do not wish to apply the license do also have that option. Valve has also retained the right to remove their license from any 3D models that are either irrelevant or, likely, offensive. Shapeways, for its part, will take care of sending royalty payments to Valve, streamlining the process considerably.

If you look on the Shapeways + Valve page, you can already see that some pretty great models have been uploaded, including a colorful Sniper model (from Dota 2), a Half-Life inspired bottle opener, and a number of Portal Companion accessories.

Looking at the bigger picture, Valve’s decision to offer makers licensing rights to its characters and props is in line with a few other initiatives that are geared towards a open 3D printing economy.

"Half-Life black mesa bottle opener" by Andrew Bougie

Last year, for instance, Skylander developer Activision announced that makers were free to design and create (though not sell) their own 3D printable Skylander characters.

On the other hand, many companies have taken steps to make their merchandise harder to recreate and 3D print. Disney, for example, has even filed patents for an “anti-scanning” material that would inhibit makers from digitally copying its products and reproducing them through 3D printing.

Still, Valve’s move towards a more open and creative market for its merchandise is an interesting model, and we’re excited to see whether other forward-thinking companies take similar steps with their products.



Posted in 3D Printing Service



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