Valve Corporation is an American video game development and digital distribution company based in Bellevue, Washington, U.S. that was founded in 1996, and made famous by its first product, Half-Life, which was released in November 1998, and by its distribution software, Steam. They are known for their first-person shooters, and long development cycles.
Valve was founded as an L.L.C. based in Kirkland, Washington. After incorporation in April 2003, it moved from its original location to Bellevue, Washington, the same city in which their original publisher, Sierra On-Line, Inc., was based.
After the success of Half-Life, the team worked on mods, spin-offs, and sequels, including Half-Life 2. All current Valve games are built on its Source engine, which owes much of its success to mods and sequels. The company has produced six games series: Half-Life, Team Fortress, Portal, Counter-Strike, Left 4 Dead, and Day of Defeat. Valve is noted for its support of its games' modding community: most prominently, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, and Day of Defeat each began as a third-party mod that Valve purchased and developed into a full game. They also distribute community mods on Steam.
Main article: Half-Life (video game)Long-time Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington founded Valve on August 24, 1996. After securing a license to the Quake engine (through the help of friend Michael Abrash of id Software) in late 1996, they began working on Half-Life. Originally planned for release in late 1997, Half-Life launched on November 19, 1998. Valve acquired TF Software PTY Ltd, the makers of the Team Fortress mod for Quake, in May 1998 with the intent to create a standalone Team Fortress game. The Team Fortress Classic mod, essentially a port of the original Team Fortress mod for Quake, was released for Half-Life in 1999. Gearbox contributed much after the release of Half-Life. Gearbox Software is responsible for the Half-Life expansion packs, Half-Life: Opposing Force and Half-Life: Blue Shift, along with the home console versions of Half-Life for the Sega Dreamcast and Sony PlayStation 2 which included a third expansion pack called Half-Life: Decay, that enabled two-player split-screen co-op.
Main article: Steam (content delivery)Gabe Newell (foreground) and Doug Lombardi (background), 2007Valve announced its Steam content delivery system in 2002. At the time, it looked to be a method of streamlining the patch process common in online computer games. Steam was later revealed as a replacement for much of the framework of WON and Half-Life multiplayer and also as a distribution system for entire games.
Through Steam, Valve has shown substantial support for their games through regular updates. For example, Valve has offered considerable updates for Team Fortress 2; including adding new maps, new game modes, additional weapons, new achievements, and additional game play mechanics. There have been nine major updates in the game's two-year history, along with many bug-fixes and smaller additions. All such updates are provided free of charge.
There are over 1,000 games available on Steam, and in January 2010 Valve announced that it had surpassed 25 million active user accounts.
Lawsuits to ValveEdit
Valve vs Vivendi caseEdit
Between 2002 and 2005, Valve was involved in a complex legal showdown with its publisher, Vivendi Universal (under Vivendi's brand Sierra Entertainment). It officially began on August 14, 2002, when Valve sued Sierra for copyright infringement, alleging that the publisher illegally distributed copies of their games to Internet cafes. They later added claims of breach of contract, accusing their publisher of withholding royalties and delaying the release of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero until after the holiday season.
Vivendi fought back, saying that Gabe Newell and marketing director Doug Lombardi had misrepresented Valve's position in meetings with the publisher. Vivendi later countersued, claiming that Valve's Steam content distribution system attempted to circumvent their publishing agreement. Vivendi sought intellectual property rights to Half-Life and a ruling preventing Valve from using Steam to distribute Half-Life 2.
On November 29, 2004, Judge Thomas S. Zilly of U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle, Washington ruled in favor of Valve Corporation. Specifically, the ruling stated that Vivendi Universal and its affiliates (including Sierra) were not authorized to distribute Valve games, either directly or indirectly, through cyber cafés to end users for pay-to-play activities pursuant to the parties' current publishing agreement. In addition, Judge Zilly ruled that Valve could recover copyright damages for infringements without regard to the publishing agreement's limitation of liability clause. Valve posted on the Steam website that the two companies had come to a settlement in court on April 29, 2005. Electronic Arts announced on July 18, 2005 they would be teaming up with Valve in a multi-year deal to distribute their games, replacing Vivendi Universal from then onwards. As a result of the trial, the arbitrator also awarded Valve $2,391,932.
In April 2009, Valve sued Activision Blizzard, which acquired Sierra Entertainment after a merger with its parent company, Vivendi Universal Games. Activision had allegedly refused to honor the Valve vs Vivendi arbitration agreement. Activision had only paid Valve $1,967,796 of the $2,391,932 award, refusing to pay the remaining $424,136 claiming it had overpaid that sum in the past years
"Valve Time" has become an industry term used jokingly with game releases from Valve, used to acknowledge the difference between the promised time for released content stated by Valve and to the actual release time; "Valve Time" includes predominately delays but also includes some content that was released earlier than expected. Valve itself has fully acknowledged the term, including tracking known discrepancies between ideal and actual releases on their public development wiki and using it in announcements about such delays. Valve ascribes their delays to their mentality of team-driven initiatives over corporate deadlines to make sure they provide a high quality product to their customers. The company does try to avoid unintentional delays of their projects, and believes that the earlier occurrences of "Valve Time" delays, primarily from Half-Life development, has helped them improve their release schedules