>This is a pipe dream, there are so many things that would prevent it from happening that it will never get off the ground. Valve is acting very strange lately.
Except it has already worked for Mount and Blade; they got to a 1.0 release, made possible largely by community contributions - and they weren't even promising a return on investment.
What were they offering? A unique game, not being done by anyone else.
Just because people can't see themselves investing makes them think no one else will either.
Scammers> Obviously some upfront credentials would be needed, and then proof of progress along the way. And given Valve is talking about doing this through Steam, you could expect some kind of auditing system might exist.
Giving money to Valve> A lot of people (already accused of illiteracy) seem to think Valve wants the community to give them money upfront.
Valve already have the money to develop whatever they want to.
They are talking about indie studios getting funding for their projects, which they are unable to get from publishers because they are too niche, too obscure, too risky, whatever.
Given that the goals of publishers are totally different from the goals of gamers, it seems reasonable to get money from the people who want you game to be good.
>Owning a piece of the game being 'nebulous'.
It is not nebulous. You have invested in the game project. If it breaks even and goes on to make a profit, you can expect to see your money back and more (perhaps $100 back on the $50 you put in). If it does not go beyond breaking even, you will get nothing back.