25 years of Valve: Much more than just Steam and Half-Life

25 years of Valve: Much more than just Steam and Half-Life

25 years of Valve

It wasn't until July 2021 that Steam operator Valve announced the Steam Deck - a handheld PC in the style of the Nintendo Switch. However, the device is more powerful and, above all, offers the option of playing your own Steam library not only on your home computer, but also on the go. Granted, this isn't the first exotic piece of hardware Valve is bringing to market. The company already suffered shipwreck with the Steam Machines.

But such setbacks are no problem for the makers of Half-Life, Portal or Counter-Strike - Gabe Newell's 1996 have a clever business model and a very unique company philosophy and Mike Harrington have long since secured the tech company founded. On August 24, 2021 there is therefore two reasons to celebrate: Valve celebrates its 25th anniversary on this day, Gabe and his wife Lisa the silver wedding anniversary. We look back on 25 years of Valve and outline how the company has shaped the gaming industry in a quarter of a century.

Table of contents

Page 1 25 years of Valve: Much more than just Steam and Half-Life - Page 1 1.1 From nerd to millionaire 1.2 Rise thanks to Mods and Half-Life 1.3 The Steam Revolution 1.4 The shop is booming! Page 2 25 years of Valve: Much more than just Steam and Half-Life - Page 2 2.1 A special developer philosophy 2.2 Virtual Reality, E-Sports and more 2.3 A look into the future Page 3 Image gallery for "25 years of Valve: Much more than just Steam and Half-Life "

From nerd to millionaire

Curiously, Microsoft played a crucial role in the founding and success of Valve. After graduating from school, Gabe Newell moved to the renowned Harvard University. However, he never graduated there: after having spent three years at the university, Steve Ballmer, then business manager at Microsoft, brought him on board. A permanent job, good money and, above all, the opportunity for advancement in Redmond were more attractive to Newell than the local classroom at the time. During his 13 years at Microsoft, he acquired additional know-how and worked in a producer position on Windows 1.0 and the successor to the operating system. This is how it all started: At the beginning of Half-Life, researcher Gordon Freeman pushes a container with unknown matter into an energy beam. This opens a gate into the Xen dimension and destroys parts of the Black Mesa research station. Source: media agency plassma

In one of his rare interviews in 2011 with the British media magazine MCV / Develop, Newell stated somewhat amused: "When I started at Microsoft, it was the third largest software company on the east side of Lake Washington. When I left the company, I could have retired or just done what I liked, not because of what I created back then, but because I was in the right place at the right time with some other lucky lottery winners. " At the time, however, his wish was to work with other clever and socially interested people and to build something together that would change the lives of millions of others. One of those "lottery winners" was Mike Harrington, with whom Gabe Newell got along well at the time.

And then of course there was Newell's love for id Software's shooter pioneer Doom (1993). He even ported the game for id Software to Windows 95 free of charge, thus establishing an initial connection with John Carmack. He in turn needed reinforcements for the upcoming project called Quake and found them in Newell's Microsoft colleague Michael Abrash. Knowing about the skills of Mike Harrington and Gabe Newell, Abrash motivated the two to set up their own studio. id Software provided the Quake source code for this. Valve LLC was founded on August 24, 1996 in Kirkland, Washington, just six kilometers away from the Microsoft headquarters at the time.

Recommended editorial content Here you will find external content from [PLATFORM]. To protect your personal data, external integrations are only displayed if you confirm this by clicking on "Load all external content": Load all external content I consent to external content being displayed to me. This means that personal data is transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy . External content More on this in our data protection declaration.

Advancement thanks to mods and Half-Life

With the Quake engine in the luggage and a team of motivated employees on the computers, work began on the first Valve game: Half-Life. Today we know that the first person shooter would be a defining action experience of its time. However, the entire project was a risk for the two bosses: They initially financed the production and the company out of their own pocket. Half-Life was different than previously released shooters. As a result, Newell and Harrington struggled to sell their vision and find a distribution partner for the game. Finally, Sierra On-Line (from 1998 Sierra Entertainment) struck. In contrast to Doom, Half-Life relies on a subtle scary atmosphere and tension. Gordon Freeman finds the first firearm only after 20 minutes. Before that, he fought his way through with the iconic crowbar. Source: media agency plassma

After two years of development, postponements and a modernization of the engine code to GoldSrc technology, Half-Life finally came onto the market on November 19, 1998 - and hit like a bomb. The targeted 180,000 sold units were sold at lightning speed as a result of bombastic ratings. Half-Life became a mega-hit and sold millions of copies worldwide. The game convinced with its groundbreaking narrative style, the fresh gameplay mix and an exciting story. Add-ons like the Half-Life: Opposing Force and Half-Life: Blue Shift developed by Gearbox Software kept the interest of the single-player fans high Variety of mods and extensions. For this purpose Valve also released the Software Development Kit (SDK for short) for building your own maps, game modes and mods for free - greetings from id Software. A clever move, because the Americans fed the players with new modifications and used these opportunities to scout new employees and projects. The predecessor already used a rudimentary physics engine for today's requirements. In Half-Life 2, however, this played an increasingly important role in solving puzzles or presenting the game. Source: media agency plassma

In 1998 Valve also acquired TF Software PTY, the team behind Quake-Mod Team Fortress. A year later, this same Team Fortress appeared on the basis of the Half-Life engine and became a multiplayer hit. As a result, more and more fan projects were swallowed up by Valve and later marketed as their own programs - above all, of course, the Counter-Strike developed by Minh Lee and Jess Cliffe. The team shooter is considered to be one of the fathers of e-sports and sparked a real online gaming hype.

However, Counter-Strike Valve also faced a major challenge: How do you supply players worldwide as simultaneously as possible Patches and Updates? Manually adding new versions was complicated for many users, and updates repeatedly resulted in slumps in the number of players. For Doug Lombardi, who rose to Vice President of Marketing in 2000, this approach is "the origin of Steam".


Valve Index: The best VR headset in the test so far loadVideoPlayer ('81460', '& sAdSetCsategory = article_featured', 6, '16: 9 ', false, 1377712, false, 15833, 260, false, 0,' ',' ', false); Virtual Reality

The Steam Revolution

In 2000 Mike Harrington left the company. In 2005 he co-founded the photo service Picnik, which was bought by Google in 2010. Gabe Newell thus took on the role of sole owner of the company; Valve LLC became Valve Corporation. He also realized that game development alone would lead to a dead end for the company. Behind the scenes, work began on the source engine and on Steam. The mysterious G-Man is just as much a part of Half-Life as Gordon Freeman and the crowbar. Due to the postponement of the release of the second part, the winged word "Valve Time" was born. This expression stands for the fact that a Valve game only appears when it is really finished. Source: Valve

Steam should serve as a sales platform and facilitate aspects such as installing updates or preventing cheating. Gabe Newell presented the concept at the Game Developers Conference 2002 and praised the favorable conditions at which independent developers could sell their titles on Steam. Valve took a clear line against traditional retailers and large game publishers. While we have got used to online platforms like Steam and their restrictions, advantages and peculiarities these days, the concept was not only met with approval back then. Despite all obstacles and technical challenges, Steam went online in version 1.0 on September 12, 2003 and initially served as a test environment for Counter-Strike 1.4 November 2004 published Shooter Half-Life 2. The source engine used was to remain Valve's "house technology" for years and be used in many other projects. The game no longer only appeared in the boxed version distributed by publisher Vivendi Universal, but also on Steam. If you wanted to play Half-Life 2 over this, you needed an internet connection to register the version accordingly: normal today, a minor scandal at the time, which even called the consumer center on the scene. In addition, a hack that took place during development ensured that parts of the game and the source code landed on the Internet well before the release. followed by a new wave of modifications and extensions based on the source engine. The most popular "source games" include the sandbox game Garry's Mod, Dear Esther and of course Dota 2.

Valve hired a team from Washington's DigiPen Institute of Technology to develop the portal. Their puzzle game Narbacular Drop is considered the intellectual predecessor of the classic. Source: Valve

The store is booming!

Valve had long since established itself as a "big player". The company generated large sales with Steam and expanded the platform over the years to include new marketplace functions such as Steam Cloud and friend lists or a return function. In terms of new developments, Half-Life 2 moved into the background after the 2006 published Episode One and the 2007 published Episode Two. Unfortunately, the third expansion has never been launched to this day. After all, there was finally reason to be happy for console gamers: The Orange Box, consisting of Half-Life 2, Episode One, Episode Two, Portal and Team Fortress 2, came out not only for the PC, but also for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Physics effects also play a huge role in Portal and its successor Portal 2: From the portals themselves to gravity effects and other functions, Valve uses the full range of gameplay tricks. Source: Valve

Portal is also a good keyword at this point: In 2005 Valve hired a small group of developers from Washington's DigiPen Institute of Technology. Their puzzle game Narbacular Drop was positively received by Gabe Newell and his team. It is considered the spiritual predecessor of the cult game Portal, which brought a clever twist to the world of first-person games and presented GlaDOS, one of the best villains in video game history.

Portal is a classic, but was once again made by surpassed its 2011 successor - Portal 2 was even smarter, meaner, trickier. The mixture of challenging portal and physics puzzles in connection with the inspiring narrative made praise and top marks literally rain from the sky. On Metacritic, Portal 2 today has a press ranking of 95 and a user score of 9.1.

The co-op zombie shooter Left 4 Dead turned out to be a similar crowd puller. The first part came from Turtle Rock Studios and, in addition to its humorous co-op gameplay, scored above all with the dramatically staged levels and the split-screen mode integrated on the console. After the success of over eleven million copies sold, Valve took over large parts of the workforce and closed the Turtle Rock headquarters. The second part, which was developed internally in the following years, continued this route in 2009, but emphasized the role of the "AI Director" more strongly. This adapted certain conditions such as the emerging undead or the distributed extras and weapons again and again. That made for a fresh gaming experience to a certain extent. Left 4 Dead 2 sold around 19 million times, making it even more successful than its predecessor.

Advertisement: Order Valve Software now from Amazon

Powered by Blogger.