Games publishing and distribution giant Valve has announced a partnership with 3D printing service Shapeways to allow fans to create and sell 3D-printed merchandise and accessories based on the company's games and hardware franchises.
The 3D printing revolution is, slowly, underway. Today it's possible to buy a fully-functional 3D printer for under £200, and for those who would prefer not to own one themselves services like Shapeways let you upload designs and have them printed for you. The service also, however, allows you to list designs for sale - and it's this aspect of Shapeways which appears to have attracted Valve.
'We’re incredibly excited to announce that, thanks to a first-of-its kind program, Valve and Shapeways are partnering up to empower our communities of creators to make and sell 3D printed, gamer-created merchandise and accessories based on Valve’s games and hardware,' Shapeways Angela Linneman explains in the announcement. 'Starting today, you can take advantage of a new Valve licensing agreement on Shapeways. This will not only allow you to create merch around any of Valve’s games and game assets, but also mods and accessories for hardware like the Steam Controller and Steam Link.
'For Shapeways designers, this means that the Valve and Steam game communities will now have access to your products, and you can advertise and promote your Valve-related products anywhere you like. For Valve games’ fans and Steam hardware users, we’re here to help you take your fan art into the physical world, whether you’re just learning to design for 3D printing, or have a whole set of heroes ready to bring to life.'
The business model naturally sees revenue stream flowing towards Valve: For every design relating to a Valve franchise which is uploaded and sold on the service, the company will take a 10 percent royalty off the top - calculated and collected automatically by Shapeways. For accessories designed to work with Valve's various hardware products, no royalty is payable - unless, of course, you build in something from a Valve franchise, such as a 3D bas-relief of Gordon Freeman built into the side of a Steam Link stand.
The partnership is live now, with a range of designs already available.