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Valve Corporation is an Americanmarker video game development and digital distribution company based in Bellevue, Washingtonmarker, USA that was founded in 1996, and made famous by its first product, Half-Life, which was released in November 1998.


Valve was founded as an L.L.C. based in Kirkland, Washingtonmarker. After incorporation in 2003, it moved from its original location to Bellevue, Washingtonmarker, 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-off, 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.

On January 10, 2008, Valve Corporation announced the acquisition of Turtle Rock Studios.

On October 5, 2009, Defense of the Ancients (DotA) developer IceFrog announced that he would be leading a team at Valve to further develop DotA.


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 commenced 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.


Gabe Newell (foreground) and Doug Lombardi (background), 2007
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 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. Valve's second most recent major update for Team Fortress 2 added four new maps, a new game mode, six additional weapons, 35 new achievements, and additional generic bug fixes. The newest added a new map, 2 new gameplay mechanics, a new taunt, 5 new achievements, and 4 new hats. This is the sixth such update in the game's two-year history., along with several minor updates. A recent update to Valve's newest game, Left 4 Dead, provided seven achievements, sixteen maps (fifteen "remixed" versions of older levels and one entirely new level), a new game mode, and VS support for two previously unsupported campaigns. All such updates are provided free of charge.

As of November 19, 2009, 986 games are available on Steam, and as of February 18, 2009, there are over 20 million user accounts.

Valve vs Vivendi case

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, Washingtonmarker 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 caf├ęs 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.

Activision lawsuit

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 agreement. Activision had paid Valve $1,967,796, refusing to pay the remaining $424,136, and claiming it had overpaid that sum in the past years.

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