Valve Software was founded in Bellevue, Washington in 1996. They quickly made their mark on PC gaming history with their debut title, Half-Life--a game which went on to receive numerous "Game of the Year" awards and is still widely regarded as one of the most influential FPS games ever made. Half-Life went on to spawn two official expansion packs (Opposing Force and Blue Shift, both developed by Gearbox, not Valve) and several multiplayer mods, including Counter-Strike, which for years after its release has consistently remained one of the most-played online shooters.
After the success of Half-Life, Valve stayed fairly quiet for a number of years, tending to the burgeoning mod communities to which Half-Life had given rise and doing R&D work on their next game engine. Finally, in 2004, Valve again shook the world of PC games with the critically acclaimed sequel to Half-Life, simply titled Half-Life 2. The game quickly became renowned for its atmospheric story-telling, polished gameplay, and robust physics system that could be easily and dramatically manipulated via the Gravity Gun. Released alongside Half-Life 2 was a full remake of their popular online shooter Counter-Strike, titled Counter-Strike: Source. Both Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source were Valve's first games to make use of their new, in-house-developed Source Engine.
Valve planned for episodic game releases to continue the Half-Life 2 storyline, and they released the first of these in 2006, titled Half-Life 2: Episode One. Following the release of Episode One, Valve began work on The Orange Box. The Orange Box became a five-game package for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3, which included HL2, HL2: Episode One, HL2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. Team Fortress 2, having been in fitful iterative development for nearly a decade, is the sequel to the popular multiplayer game Team Fortress: Classic, though it takes a much more stylized approach with visuals reminiscent of a Pixar film. Portal, inspired by a student project titled Narbacular Drop, is unusual among Valve's games and among first-person games in general in that it is not exactly a first-person shooter, but rather a first-person puzzler. The game saw the player navigating the Aperture Science Enrichment Center using a Portal Gun to teleport and maneuver through physics-based puzzles. The Orange Box was released in 2007, and garnered much critical acclaim for the variety, quality, and overall value of the games comprising it. Over the years since Team Fortress 2's release, Valve has set an industry-wide precedent for substantial and long-lasting post-release game support through their class updates and other TF2 DLC, all completely free to players.
Following in the wake of Counter-Strike: Source's and Team Fortress 2's success, Valve's next game was to be another online multiplayer shooter, but with a tighter cooperative emphasis, in Left 4 Dead, released at the end of 2008 for PC and Xbox 360. Inspired by the simple fun of fighting off hordes of knife-wielding bots in Counter-Strike, Left 4 Dead pits a lone band of four survivors against hordes of zombies in the aftermath of a full-blown zombie apocalypse. In a new speed record for Valve, they released a full sequel to Left 4 Dead just one year later to some fan backlash in Left 4 Dead 2. Left 4 Dead 2 added more content of almost every form to the Left 4 Dead formula, while also retaining much of the content from the first game.
In 2010, Valve released Alien Swarm, a Source-engine remake of the popular UT2004 mod developed by the original mod's developers who Valve hired several years earlier. Alien Swarm is available on Steam for free.
Portal 2 was announced on March 5, 2010 after a week-long alternate reality game which involved updates to the original game. Before the game was released, Valve released the Potato Sack, a second alternate reality game which involved 13 games and ultimately ended up in releasing the game several hours early on April 19, 2011. Portal 2 continues the story of Portal and adds a number of new game-play mechanics such as laser redirection, paint-like gels that can accelerate the players speed, place portals on any surface and jump higher.
On October 13, 2010 Dota 2 was officially announced on a Game Informer cover story after being hinted at in 2009. When Valve acquired the franchise, there was a trademark dispute between Valve and Blizzard with Blizzard claiming that the term Dota was an asset of their games community but it was later settled on May 11, 2012. The beta began in 2011 and officially released in July 2013 prior to Valves tournament The International 3.
Valve was set up on August 24th 1996 by two former Microsoft employees: Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington. They were based in Kirkland, WA and were a Limited Liable Company (L.L.C). While still at Microsoft both Newell and Harrington played key roles in the development and success of Microsoft's Window's operating system.
After acquiring the rights to the Quake Engine from id Software Valve began working on their first game Half-life. Set to become a company tradition, the game suffered several delays and restarts and was pushed back from it's intended release in 1997 to the end of 1998.
The game was eventually released on November 19th 1998 by Sierra Online. It received universal accolades for it's immersive environments, interactiveness and unique narrative all while still being a solid FPS. This was combined with commercial success and as of 2008 the game has sold in excess of 9.8 million copies.
Valve would continue the development philosophy on Half-life in their later games which is a partial reason to their success and loyal fanbase.
Mod and Indie Support
What Valve Corporation is best known for is their big support for user created content. When Half-Life was first released in 1998, mods were created to expand the multiplayer, the most prominent being Counter Strike. When Counter Strike was first released as a free mod, it quickly became a hit. Valve liked what they saw in the mod and on April 20, 2000, Valve hired the Counter Strike developers in order to make a full game out of the mod. Thus Half Life: Counter Strike was born.
Many other mods would be created for Half Life, including Team Fortress (which was released as a Quake mod before coming to Half Life) and Day of Defeat.
When Valve released the Steam client in 2003, there wasn't much support in their store. As they expanded within the next few years, Valve decided to bring some modders and indie developers to make games for the Steam service. Valve gives modders the proper tools to make mods. When Half Life 2 was released, it introduced the new Source engine. To better attract modders, Valve released the Source SDK. It became the standard tool to create new maps, new enemies, and whole new mods for Valve's titles.
The most famous of all of the new Source mods is Garry's Mod. Created in 2004 by Garry Newman, Garry's Mod was a simple construction tool used to play in maps with the ragdolls from many Source games, life Half Life 2, Counter Strike: Source, Team Fortress 2, and Left 4 Dead. It soon became one of the biggest mods for Half Life 2. Now the simple mod has expanded into an expansive tool used by many people, from modders to machinima makers. In fact, version 11 is available on Steam and is now considered a full game (but still requires the owner own another Source based game to run).
Indie games became an important part of Steam. With the introduction of Steamworks, Valve has been trying to get the community involved with the service. Games like Audiosurf and World of Goo became a big part of the Steam service, expanding its library of games from the regular publishers to the new indie developers getting a good start in gaming.
- August 24th, 1996 - Valve Software is set up by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington.
- November 19th, 1998 - Half-life is released.
- March 25th, 1999 - Counter Strike is released as a mod for Half-life.
- April 7th, 1999 - Team Fortress Classic is released, a remake of the original Quake mod based on the GoldSrc engine.
- January 15th 2000 - Mike Harrington dissolves his partnership with Valve, giving Gabe Newell full control.
- April 20th, 2000 - Valve hires the developers of Counter Strike.
- 2003 - Valve moves to Bellvue, WA after becoming a corporation.
- September 12th, 2003 - Valve releases its Steam client.
- November 16th, 2004 - Half-life 2 is finally released, after numerous delays and complications, to glowing reviews.
- June 1st 2006 - HL2: Episode 1 is released. The first of a planned trilogy that were supposed to be released in a short period.
- October 10th, 2007 - The Orange Box is released. It includes the following games: Team Fortress 2 (which spent 5 years in development), Portal and HL2: Episode 2.
- November 18th, 2008 - Valve releases Left 4 Dead.
- November 17th, 2009 - Valve releases Left 4 Dead 2, the sequel to the previous year's big hit. Months before, there was huge controversy about releasing L4D2 so soon after the first, even spurring a boycott on the game (Fans had become used to long, long development times from Valve so releasing a sequel so soon after the original raised questions of quality). However, the game still sold well.
- April 19th, 2011 - Valve releases Portal 2, a fully developed sequel to the experimental hit, Portal, appearing first in The Orange Box.
- July 9th, 2013 - Valve releases Dota 2, after a extended beta period and sequel to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos mod called Defense of the Ancients.
- April 21st, 2018 - Valve acquires Firewatch developer Campo Santo.
Valve have recently become fans of releasing short digital comics to explain plot points in their games. These mostly involve characters that do not appear in the actual game, or are merely mentioned.
- Team Fortress 2: WAR! (RED Demoman vs. BLU Soldier, first depiction of The Administrator's face, introduces Miss Pauling and Saxton Hale)
- Team Fortress 2: Apple Update (promo to tie-in with Steam coming to Mac OSX)
- Team Fortress 2: Loose Canon (Engineer update, explains more about the Redmond and Blutarch feud)
- Team Fortress 2: Meet The Director (Shows how the Meet The...shorts were "filmed", hints at Meet The Medic)
- Team Fortress 2: Bombinomicon (Shows a few of the RED Team members interacting with trick-or-treaters on Halloween, explains the story of how the Demoman lost his eye, and introduces Merasmus the magician- the same magician responsible for Medieval Mode)
- Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice (shows the canon route through the campaign, explains the survivors' backstories)
- Portal: Lab Rat (Fleshes out the story of Doug "The Rat Man" Rattman, bridges the gaps between games)
- Dota 2: Are We Heroes Yet?
All of these (except TF2: Bombinomicon and the Dota 2 comic) are available in print form from Dark Horse Comics under the title Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Tales.
List of games developed by Valve
|Half-Life||PC (1998), PS2 (2001)|
|Half-Life Deathmatch: Source||PC (2005)|
|Half-Life:Day One||PC (1998)|
|Half-Life 2||PC (2004), Xbox (2005), Xbox 360 (2007), PlayStation 3 (2007), Mac (2010)|
|Half-Life 2:Deathmatch||PC (2004), Mac (2010)|
|Half-Life 2:Lost Coast||PC (2005)|
|Half-Life 2:Episode One||PC (2006), Xbox 360 (2007), PlayStation 3 (2007), Mac (2010)|
|Half-Life 2: Episode Two||PC (2007), Xbox 360 (2007), PlayStation 3 (2007), Mac (2010)|
|Counter-Strike||PC (2000), Xbox (2004)|
|Counter-Strike: Condition Zero||PC (2004), Xbox (2004)|
|Counter-Strike: Source||PC (2004), Mac (2010)|
|Team Fortress Classic||PC (1999)|
|Team Fortress 2||PC (2007), Xbox 360 (2007), PlayStation 3 (2007), Mac (2010)|
|Day of Defeat||PC (2003)|
|Day of Defeat:Source||PC (2005), Mac (2010)|
|Portal||PC (2007), Mac (2010)|
|Portal 2||PC (2011)|
|Left 4 Dead||PC (2008), Xbox 360 (2008), Mac (2010)|
|Left 4 Dead 2||PC (2009), Xbox 360 (2009), Mac (2010)|
|Deathmatch Classic||PC (2000)|
|The Orange Box||PC (2007), Xbox 360 (2007), PlayStation 3 (2007), Mac (2010)|
|Alien Swarm||PC (2010)|
|Dota 2||PC (2013)|
|Counter Strike: Global Offensive||PC(2012), Xbox 360 (2012), PlayStation 3 (2012), Mac (2012)|