Valve Corporation

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Valve Corporation is an American video game and digital distribution developer based in Bellevue, Washington.[2] Their first game, Half-Life, was highly acclaimed and since they have gone on to develop more franchises, including Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress, as well as Portal, all of which are first-person shooters.

Valve also developed the popular Steam content delivery client, which is now the market leader with, as of December 2012, over 2000 games available, 54 milion active user accounts, and with 70% of the market share.[3] Valve releases all of their games via Steam.

Contents

[edit] History

The Mr. Valve logo used from 1998 (Half-Life) to 2005 (Xbox version of Half-Life 2).

Valve was founded on August 24, 1996[4][5] by two former Microsoft employees, Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington. They originally started out as an L.L.C. company based in Kirkland, Washington, however, after incorporation in 2003, Valve moved from Kirkland to Bellevue.

Following the success of Half-Life, the Valve team expanded their portfolio, creating mods, spin-offs, and sequels. Valve has accumulated rights to at least six different series which include Half-Life, Team Fortress, Portal, Counter-Strike, Left 4 Dead and Day of Defeat. Valve is most noted for its support of the modding community. In fact, its games Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, and Day of Defeat, all started out as third-party mods before becoming full-fledged games. Valve distributes some community mods on their content delivery system, Steam.

[edit] Products and franchises

[edit] Half-Life series

Picture of the Half-Life team around 1998, from the Sierra Studios E3 1998 Press Kit. (Other versions: 1, 2)
Half-Life box art.
Possible blueprint from offices at Valve featured in the background images of the Half-Life instruction manual, presented like a BMRF blueprint.

Valve began working on the first game of the Half-Life series soon after the company's formation, and settled on a concept for a horror-themed 3D action game, using the Quake engine as licensed by id Software. Half-Life was a hit at the 1997 E3 convention, where its animation system and artificial intelligence were demonstrated. The game's success led to its first expansion pack, Half-Life: Opposing Force, which was developed by Gearbox Software, a company based in Plano, Texas. Randy Pitchford, founder of Gearbox, said in an interview that he believed Valve gave them the opportunity to produce a sequel to Half-Life to allow Valve to focus on future titles. The game was demonstrated at the 1999 E3 convention, where new locations, characters, and the storyline were revealed.

On November 16, 2004,[6] Half-Life 2, the sequel to the original game, was released. Following its release, the series was continued using a trilogy of episodic games. Half-Life 2: Episode One was the first of these, set around City 17 after the events of the original game, in which Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance must attempt to escape the city after a dark energy reactor core they damaged at the end of Half-Life 2 threatens to destroy the city. It was released on June 1, 2006,[7] and introduced several new graphical effects including new lighting features and facial animation.

The second episodic game, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, was released on October 10, 2007,[8] and continues the story soon after where Episode One ended. This episode focuses on expansive environments, travel, and less linear play. It was released in The Orange Box along with Half-Life 2, Episode One, Portal, and Team Fortress 2.

Half-Life 2: Episode Three is slated to be the third and final installment of the episodic expansions.[9] The game has, presumably, been in development since some time in 2008, since concept art surfaced in July of that year.[10] However, besides passing comments when pressed in interviews, very little is known about the game.

[edit] Portal series

Portal is Valve's professionally-developed spiritual successor to the freeware game project Narbacular Drop, the 2005 independent game released by students of DigiPen, who are now all employed at Valve.[11][12] Released on October 10, 2007,[13] the game was only available as part of The Orange Box, however after its success it is now available separately on Steam. The game follows Chell, a test subject in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, who must use the Handheld Portal Device to navigate through nineteen Test Chambers, all the while being guided by a sinister AI who offers "consoling" advice.

On March 1, 2010, Portal was updated to tie in with an alternate reality game, which was eventually revealed to be promoting a full sequel, Portal 2. Portal 2 was officially announced on March 5, 2010[14] and was confirmed to be a full-priced standalone game, taking place in an unknown area of Aperture Science Enrichment Center.

[edit] Steam

The Steam logo.
The Steam store view.

Valve 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 dated framework of WON and Half-Life multiplayer and also as a distribution system for entire games since 2005. It was released on September 12, 2003.[15]

As part of Steam, Valve developed the Valve Anti-Cheat system, an anti-cheat solution that prevented players from changing the game code to gain an advantage over other players. It is now implemented as a part of Steamworks, a publishing suite that gives developers access to every component of Steam.[16]

[edit] Lawsuits

The Mr. Valve logo used since 2007 (Episode Two).

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 counter-sued, 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 the U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle, WA ruled in favor of Valve. Specifically, the ruling stated that Vivendi Universal and its affiliates (including Sierra) were not authorized to distribute Valve games, either directly or indirectly, through Internet 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.[17]

On April 29, 2005, Valve posted on the Steam website that the two companies had come to a settlement in court.[18]

On July 18, 2005, Electronic Arts announced that they would be teaming up with Valve in a multi-year deal to distribute their games, replacing Vivendi Universal from 2005 onwards.[19]

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 v. 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.[20]

[edit] Gallery

[edit] References

  1. Valve Studio Tour. Gameinformer.com. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
  2. About Valve on ValveSoftware.com
  3. Stardock Reveals Impulse, Steam Market Share Estimates
  4. Steam Message. "[...] it was exactly eleven years ago that Valve was born."
  5. Valve Corporation v. ValveNET, Inc., ValveNET, Inc., Charles Morrin Case No. D2005-0038. WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center.
  6. Half-Life 2 on Steam
  7. Half-Life 2: Episode One on Steam
  8. Half-Life 2: Episode Two on Steam
  9. Half-Life 2: Episode One gold, Two dated, Three announced on GameSpot
  10. First Half-Life 2: Episode Three Concept Art Revealed on Shacknews.
  11. Things are heating up!. Narbacular Drop official site (2006-07-17). Retrieved on 2006-07-21.
  12. Valve’s Doug Lombardi Talks Half-Life 2 Happenings on GameInformer.com
  13. [1]
  14. Portal 2 Announced
  15. Steam Client Released
  16. Steamworks partner site
  17. Valve v. Vivendi Universal dogfight heats up in US District Court on GameSpot
  18. Valve and Vivendi Universal Games Settle Lawsuit on Steam News
  19. EA and Valve Team Up to Deliver Half Life to Gamers Worldwide on EA News
  20. It's Ugly: Valve Sues Activision, Activision Threatens to Sue Valve on GamePolitics.com. "Against that backdrop, Activision cut Valve a check last week for $1,967,796 - the amount handed down by the arbitrator less the disputed $424K. According to Valve's suit, Activision said that it wouldn't pay the rest and if Valve went to court Activision would counter-sue. Valve has apparently called Activision's bluff and the parties are now once again at odds."

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