Valve Corporation, also known as Valve Software, is an American video game developer, publisher, and digital distribution company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. It is the developer of the software distribution platform Steam and the franchises Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, and Dota.
Valve was founded in 1996 by former Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington. Its debut product, the first-person shooter (FPS) Half-Life (1998), was a critical and commercial success; with its realism, scripted sequences and seamless narrative, it had a lasting influence on the FPS genre. Harrington left in 2000. In 2003, Valve launched Steam, followed by Half-Life 2 in 2004. With advanced physics systems and an increased focus on story and characters, Half-Life 2 received critical acclaim and sold 12 million copies by 2011. In 2006, Valve released Half-Life 2: Episode One, the first of two episodic sequels; Episode Two followed in 2007, alongside the multiplayer game Team Fortress 2 and the puzzle game Portal. Portal 2 was released in 2011. In 2013, Valve released the multiplayer online battle arena game Dota 2.
Valve released fewer games in 2010s, and experimented with hardware and virtual reality (VR). They entered the hardware market in 2015 with the Steam Machine, a line of gaming computers, which sold poorly, and released the HTC Vive and Valve Index VR headsets. They returned to the Half-Life series in 2020 with Half-Life: Alyx, their flagship VR game. In 2021, Valve announced the Steam Deck portable gaming PC.
Valve uses a flat structure, whereby employees decide what to work on themselves. They develop games through playtesting and iteration, describing game design as a kind of "experimental psychology". Most of Valve's revenue comes from Steam, which controlled 50 to 70% of the market for downloaded PC games in 2011 and generated an estimated $3.4 billion in 2017. By 2012, Valve employed around 250 people and was reportedly worth over US$3 billion, making it the most profitable company per employee in the United States.
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March 2, 2020
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