Valve’s strange history of talent acquisitions

For Engadget’s 20th anniversary, we’ve put together a roundup of stories about the most important pieces of technology from the past two decades, and mine was on steam. It’s hard to overstate how influential Steam has been for PC gaming, or how much the showcase has enriched Valve. As a private company with endless Steam cash, Valve has the freedom to ignore market pressure from consumers, creators, and competitors. It has a flat hierarchy with no strict management structure, and developers are encouraged to follow their hearts.

All this resulted in an incredibly rich studio that didn’t produce much. It might be a tired joke that Valve can’t count to three in their games, but we’re not talking about Half-Life today. We’re talking about Valve’s history of buying interesting franchises and talented developers, playing with them for a while, and then forgetting about their existence. Real fucking behavior – but that’s how Valve does it.

Let’s take a look at Valve’s talent acquisition history. It started as one of its oldest franchises, Team Fortress Earthquake The mod was created by a small team in Australia, and Valve bought its developers and game rights in 1998. Team Fortress 2 It came out in 2007 and has had several good years of updates and support. Today, the game has a loyal player base, but it’s full of bots, and it’s unclear if anyone at Valve is consistently working on it. TF2.

A student project named Portal began its life Narbacular Dropand Valve hired its developers in 2005 after seeing its demo. Portal officially released in 2007 Portal 2 It came out in 2011 and both were instant classics. Since then, there hasn’t been a whiff of another Portal game, although Eric Wolpaw, one of the writers of the series, really, really wants to Valve to prepare Portal 3.

Of all the Valve franchises that were left to wither and die, I miss Left 4 Dead the most. Turtle Rock began to build 4 were left dead In 2005 and when it came out in 2008, Valve bought the studio and its IP. Citing slow progress and poor communication, Turtle Rock left Valve before helping the company 4 survived, 2 changed their lives In 2009. Turtle Rock is released Thrive in 2015 and Black 4 blood in 2021 and is now owned by Tencent. Meanwhile, here I am, dreaming of the third 4 were left dead the game.

In 2010, Valve secured the rights Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancientsand hired its lead developer. Dota 2 It came out in 2013 and has become an incredibly successful esports title. Now, eleven years later, Dota 2 are players complains about the lack of support and communication from Valve compared to games like League of Legends.

Counter-Strike has received the most attention from Valve in recent memory with its release Counter-Strike 2 end of last year. Original Counter-attack was a Half life mod, and Valve acquired it and its developers in 2000. Counter-Strike 2 is the fifth part of the series, released 11 years after its predecessor, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. After this recent focus, it’s time for Valve to start ignoring the Counter-Strike community again.

Valve quietly continued the acquisitions. in 2018 Valve was hired at all 12 developers Firewatch studio Campo Santo was working on a new game that looked very cool at the time. In the Valley of the Gods. This could be another great, genre-defining franchise for the sequel to Valve’s acquired IP, but there hasn’t been an update from this team in nearly six years. As of April 2018, Campo Santo said they were still building In the Valley of the Gods At Valve and promised regularly blog posts and quarterly reviews. And then, nothing.

Matt Wood worked at Valve for 17 years, where he helped build Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2, CS:GO and both episodes Half-Life 2. It left in 2019 and is now preparing to release its first independent game, Little Kitty, Big City. Wood He told me in 2023 that Valve was “sitting on their laurels a little bit and it’s like they’re not really challenging themselves or taking risks or anything. Steam makes a lot of money so they don’t really need to.

of course Little Kitty, Big City does Coming to Steam.

Steam’s unwavering success has helped turn Valve into an upscale resort community for computer science enthusiasts, where game developers go to live out their final years in fantastical conditions, laziness and no supervision. It’s a beautiful scenario. At least no developers to be fired – and I mean it sincerely. Steam is a great service, and Valve seems committed to the Steam Deck hardware, which is pretty cool, at least temporarily. Still, I miss the games that Valve eats. I have to ask if the developers out there do this too.

Valve’s treatment of legendary franchises and developers raises questions about its commitment to everything, including Steam. What if Valve decides to pivot or sell, or Gabe Newell retires and blows things up? What happens if Steam closes? As a service with native DRM, all our games will be gone instantly. Like all these game developers.

This week’s news

Game history update

Playdate is one of mine favorite gaming gadgets over the past decade, not only because it has an incredibly cute crank, but also because its low-res screen pushes the boundaries of traditional gaming, hiding a buffet of weird and wonderful experiences. Rush held a showcase Headlining last week’s new Playdate games was Lucas Pope Mars after midnightIt will be released on March 12. Papa’s developer Documents, please and The Return of Obra Dinntwo incredible games and Mars after midnight set at the gates of a crowded alien colony. Papa’s games are literally made for Playdate this time.

Yuzu and Citra are gone

A week after Nintendo threatened to sue the creators of Yuzu, the popular Switch emulator has been pulled from the market. $2.4 million payout. To make matters worse for the emulation community, Yuzu’s lead developer has announced that they are also killing the 3DS emulator. Citra. Both emulators were open source, so we’ll at least see Citra being maintained by the wider community. It’s unclear whether anyone is willing to take Yuzu’s fork and risk a lawsuit.

Bonus content

  • Nightmare of Tsushima It will be released on May 16 for PC. It comes with all its DLC, and Sony says it will run on everything from high-end PCs to portable PC gaming devices.

  • Capcom’s Kunitsu-Gami: The Way of the Goddess probably coming out this year on PC, PlayStation and Xbox. It debuted at Summer Game Fest and looks pretty unique.

  • Hell On March 19, Netflix is ​​coming to iOS as a mobile exclusive. There are currently no plans for an Android version, which is bad for me.

Now playing

I found it This Bed We Made while doing research for a GLAAD Gaming report I covered a few weeks agoand I’m incredibly happy about it. This Bed We Made It’s an exploration and story-driven game set in a 1950s hotel that absolutely oozes drama and mystery. The writing is fantastic, the characters are complex, and there’s an exciting storyline running through it all. Available now on PC and consoles.

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