Valve Software was founded in 1996 by former Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington. Once they secured a license to use the Quake
engine, Valve set about to create their first game... Half-Life
was released in 1998 and ever since, Valve has been known for their revolutionary and amazing First-Person action games. In 2004, they launched one of the first digital distribution platforms, along with the sequel to Half-Life
which used it exclusively — and thus was born Steam
, which went on to become the biggest digital distribution platform for Windows and a license to print money for Valve.
And, because Valve is such a small company, they have developed something of a reputation for having literally more money than they know what to do with. A fair bit of it seems to go into flying fans out to visit their headquarters. Just don't get presumptuous.
Valve's in-house game engine (Source, the successor to their Quake
-based GoldSrc engine) is publicly available for other commercial developers to license, but for those interested in creating free mods
, the level editor and several other modding tools are available for free with the purchase of any game. (And most of the other handy tools have been developed by third parties as freeware.) To this end, the engine has become the basis for a legendary number of mods, including several that function as standalone games in their own right.
In fact, roughly half of Valve's own oeuvre — Counter-Strike
, Day of Defeat
, Team Fortress
and the free Alien Swarm
— were originally the product of mod teams, who were then recruited to work for Valve and whose games were re-released as commercial titles. Of its flagship titles, only the Half-Life
series was actually created by Valve directly; Portal
was adapted from a concept game made by a bunch of college students, and Left 4 Dead
was started by another company that Valve later bought out. Make of that what you will.
In March 2010, they announced that they would be porting Steam, the Source Engine, and their entire back catalog to Mac OS
X. Mac users everywhere rejoiced, while some PC gamers complained about Valve dumbing down their games
. At the time of writing, all their games from 2004 have been ported, in some form
. In June 2010, at E3, Gabe Newell made a surprise announcement that Portal 2 and Steam would be coming to the Playstation 3 to thunderous applause. They later gained the love of 99% of Linux users when they released the public beta of a Linux port in late December 2012, with an official release appearing in February 2013. At present, this is only officially supported on Debian-based distros, but other users have had some success at running it on Fedora- and Arch-based systems.
Their games are popularly well regarded
, at the expense of punctuality
. They are also a frequent source of memes
They also have fairly active blogs for their big games. Using a hilarious blend of Self-Deprecation
and Blatant Lies
, they deliver news about their games and their inevitable delays
They now have a level one Sentry Gun in their lobby
as well as an Aperture Science Turret
. They also have the absolute best
snack bar in the whole gaming industry. note
In April 2012, their employee handbook
was leaked to the Internet. A very informative piece, that somehow manages to make them even more
In June 2012, they publicly released the Source Filmmaker
beta for free, a tool allowing anyone to create professional standard animated movies within the Source engine. While initially set up for films using Team Fortress 2
assets, they have been expanding compatibility to other games. Although, by the looks of the community, several of these "films" are incredibly well-done.
Later, in 2013, they announced the creation of a Steam Operating System that is based on Debian Linux, and a "Steam Box
", which seems to be analogous a console, but for PC games. They also announced customized controllers that will be sold alongside the console.
Games developed by Valve:
Third-party games and mods that use Valve's Source engine:
Tropes exhibited by Valve include:
- Arc Number: For some bizarre reason, Valve is continually stuck on 2. None of their series ever seem to reach a 3rd game. (Thus spawning the meme "Valve can't count to three!") Half-Life 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal 2, Manchester United 0. Now they're even making a second game for a series they didn't start.
- Gets even more funny when they decided to skip three and go straight to four.
- Not to mention they're on their second engine; the increasingly dated Source engine.
- Finally broken by the release of the third and final segment of the Portal 2 soundtrack, and there being a total of four videos before Portal 2's release showing the various new features. However, Valve has made two Portal 2 comics, and two pieces DLC so far, so it's unknown if they shall get beyond three again.
- It should be noted that one of the four Portal 2 concepts was never implemented, making it only three in total that were worth anything.
- Technically there's no game with the number 3 in it. Counter-Strike is actually on its fourth full official release note
- Ascended Fanboy: Several people who work for Valve were people who were once modders on the Source games. MINERVA: Metastasis, for example, was a one-man project whose creator was later hired by Valve to work on...erm, Episode 3.
- Ascended Game Mod: Every game, save for the Half-Life series, once started off as a mod, or was inspired by another game.
- Badass Bookworm: Gordon Freeman, The Engineer, and The Medic.
- Big Fun: Gabe Newell, the face of Valve. As well as Heavy Weapons Guy!
- Body Horror: The logos used, what with valves coming out of the human body.
- Digital Distribution: The Steam service.
- Everything's Better with Plushies: The Tank, Hunter, and Boomer!
- Eye Scream: The original logo, pictured above. What it is
- Feathered Fiend: In Portal 2, they attack robots. In Left 4 Dead, they dickishly awaken hordes of zombies with very sensitive hearing. In Team Fortress 2, they enjoy flying into open wounds.
: "Archimedes! No! [shoos the dove away from Heavy's open chest cavity] It's filthy in zhere! Eugh! [turns to Heavy] Birds.
- Game Mod: Part of the reason why their games are so popular is because their games are very mod-friendly. So much that full games themselves were created from mods (and Valve seems to specialize in making mods into full games).
- As time goes on, Valve seems to be making their games even more mod-friendly. With the introduction of the Steam Workshop, Valve has given modders a central location to post their mods. This has made installation of mods as simple as the click of a button, making them accessible to the masses.
- Gas Cylinder Rocket: The Source engine includes a physics object for this.
- Gratuitous German: The Axis soldiers from Day of Defeat and The Medic from Team Fortress 2.
- Homage: Many of their promotions for the port of Steam to Mac were homages of famous ads in Apple's past, like the "1984" commercial (replacing the woman with the baton with Alyx Vance and a crowbar, naturally), Heavy Weapons Guy as one of the earbud-wearing silhouettes (If you bought or played Team Fortress 2 on a Mac in the days following the port, you received a pair), Francis proclaiming "I hate different.", and the "Hi, I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ad with a Portal turret representing Macs and the Team Fortress 2 RED Level 1 Sentry representing PC's.
- Hurricane of Puns: Valve loves these - just look at any game they've made!
- A fan once emailed Gabe asking what tea Gordon Freeman drinks with his "hipster glasses on", and he responded "MITea"◊.
- Knife Nut: Gabe has an impressive (100+) knife collection in his office.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Not exactly Latin (more "Ohhh" and/or unintelligible chanting), but composer Mike Morasky seems to like this a lot. See "TANK!" for the creepy boss variety, and "A Little Heart To Heart" and "MEDIC!" (because it ties in with Medic's God complex).
- Running Gag: Gabe Newell's weightnote , Robin Walker's obsession with hats, their delays, their apparent inability to count to three...
- Plague of Good Fortune: And Steam ballooning into pretty much the main PC gaming market did not help much, as large amounts of manpower have to be directed to managing it.
- Silent Protagonist/Heroic Mime: Gordon Freeman, Chell, Atlas and P-Body as well as Adrian Shepherd and Barney Calhoun in the Half-Life expansions (though Barney talks when he's an NPC in other games).
- Atlas and P-Body do chirp to each other to communicate, so they might fall under The Unintelligible, too.
- Take That: Valve has been known for not exactly holding their tongue, which has gotten them some flak over the things they have said about certain topics.
- The most well known was Gabe Newell's initial reaction to the Playstation 3, which he said that the system was a "total disaster on so many levels". This caused many of the early adopters that dared to adopt the then expensive platform to respond. Even though Gabe didn't see the Xbox as very good of a platform, either, Valve decided to develop in house for it. Gabe didn't help smooth over relations with the PS3 fanbase by outsourcing The Orange Box's PS3 port to Electronic Arts, in which was seen as a total disaster. Over the years that followed, Gabe tried to slowly mend the relationship while still holding to his convictions, with having a new criticism for the system when a previous one was either fixed or debunked. Gabe had even admitted that he had many requests for Valve to develop for the system.
- Finally, in 2010, Gabe Newell made things right with PS3 owners when he came on a Sony stage at E3 to announce that Portal 2 would be released on the Playstation 3, touting the system's open-ended nature that would allow them to provide automatic updates (a feature many of their other games on the PC enjoy), cross-platform multiplayer with the PC version, and Steamworks available through the game to seamlessly link the Steam achievements for the game with the Playstation 3 trophies for the same game. He even invoked some Self-deprecation, saying that he had been a little vocal about the current generation of game platforms, and that the Sony advertising mascot at the time, Kevin Butler, was introduced to him as the "VP of sharpening things"
- Despite his outspoken nature, he has at times been somewhat nervous on stage, being more comfortable with one-on-one interviews. He was also nervous (as he was during the Sony megaton) during a presentation in which he touted EA's involvement in Team Fortress 2, perhaps because he wasn't happy with how EA handled the PS3 Orange Box port (he had said during the interim between his infamous quote to the Portal 2 reveal that he regretted his words and wanted to make things right with PS3 owners).